By Scott Adamson
Domestic soccer has reached the championship phase of the 2017 season, with the United States’ first division – Major League Soccer – down to its conference championships and the second division United Soccer League and North American Soccer League headed to the finals.
On Sunday in MLS, Houston beat Portland, 2-1 I (the first leg game finished 0-0), to set up a Western Conference showdown against Seattle. In the Eastern Conference the Columbus Crew held off New York City FC, 4-3 on aggregate, to advance to the finals against Toronto FC.
Leg One of the semis is set for Nov. 21 while Leg Two will be played on Nov. 29.
MLS Cup, a single game hosted by the finalist with the highest point total in the regular season, will be played Dec. 9.
This year’s USL championship will be settled between Louisville City FC and the Swope Park (Kansas City) Rangers on Nov. 13.
Louisville, the top seed in the Eastern Conference, advanced with a 1-1 (4-3) victory over defending USL champion New York Red Bulls II, while in the Western Conference Swope Park defeated OKC Energy FC 0-0 (7-6) in the longest penalty kick session in USL postseason history.
The shootout went 11 rounds before the Rangers were able to move on.
The NASL, possibly playing its final season, will complete its 2017 campaign on Nov. 12 with the San Francisco Deltas hosting the New York Cosmos for the championship.
The league has been denied Division 2 status for 2018 by the United States Soccer Federation and its injunction against the ruling was denied on Saturday.
On Sunday, NASL officials appealed the decision and asked the United States Court of Appeals to expedite the ruling “to eliminate the uncertainty facing all of our clubs, players, coaches, fans, and other stakeholders.”
Should the appeal be denied, the NASL’s only options would be to accept Division 3 designation, break off ties with the USSF and become an independent league, or fold.