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MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: A Viewers' Guide to Crew SC vs. Red Bulls and Portland vs. FC Dallas

The first leg of the Conference Finals touches off today! Here's everything you need to know about Crew-RBNY (5:00 p.m. ET) and Timbers-Cowpokes (7:30), including how to watch!

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Today marks the beginning of the two legs that will decide the conference champions of MLS.

In the Ohio capital, Crew SC will aim to wash the toxic taste of the Ohio State University's disastrous defeat last night to Sparty with a bare-bottom spanking of the Supporters' Shield winners from New Jersey.

On the left coast, the Rip City boys can keep the fire burning against the West's top seed.

Kick it with us, won't you?

Yes, ya can.

GAME 1: Columbus Crew SC vs. New York Red Bulls
5:00 p.m. ET, MAPFRE Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
Watch on ESPN & ESPN Deportes / Stream on WatchESPN & MLS Live

VEGAS SAYS: On the moneyline, Columbus +130, Red Bulls +195, draw +245.

WHY CREW SC WINS: They dump goals at home, at an average of 2.3 per game. In the second leg of the conference semifinals two weeks ago, Golden Boot co-recipient Kei Kamara found the net twice to extend his overall league tally to 24.

WHY NEW JERSEY WINS: Winners of four in a row, the Red Bulls currently sport twice as many league wins (20) as losses, including postseason play. Sacha Kljestan (8 goals, 14 assists) is like three Mix Diskeruds for one third of the price. Jesse Marsch's team has defended stunningly well on the road, allowing just 1.4 goals per game away from Harrison.

PHUN PHACT: New Jersey forward Mike Grella, a Long Island native, considered retiring from the game before team exec Ali Curtis rescued him from NASL's Carolina RailHawks. He has nine goals on the year, including the fastest goal in MLS history.

HRB'S PREDICTION: Crew 3, Red Bulls 1, Kljestan's Porn Stache 0.



GAME 2: Portland Timbers vs. FC Dallas
7:30 p.m. ET, Providence Park, Portland, Oregon
Watch on FS1 and FOX Deportes (U.S.) & TSN5 (Canada) / Stream on FOX Sports Go

VEGAS SAYS: On the moneyline, Timbers -105, FCD +290, draw +235.

WHY PORTLAND WINS: Home field is worth about two thirds of a goal, and Portland is arguably the hottest squad in the league on form: they haven't lost a single match since October 3rd, and have kept three clean sheets since then.

WHY DALLAS WINS: Oscar Pareja has stuck with young and home-grown talent, and it's paid off. With spring chickens like Fabian Castillo and Tesho Akindele laying it on thick, this team will be the very last to get tired. That bodes well against a Timbers side that entered the postseason ranked last in goal scoring among playoff teams.

PHUN PHACT: Caleb Porter hates tissues.

HRB'S PREDICTION: 2-2. On to Frisco!