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Volume 24 No. 156
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Crew Fans Turn Out In Rowdy Fashion For Playoff Game Amid Franchise Uncertainty

The Crew on Tuesday night tied Toronto FC 0-0 before 21,289 "vocal and banner-waving fans in the first leg of the Eastern Conference final" at Mapfre Stadium amid the team's threat to move to Austin, according to a front-page piece by Rob Oller of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. The second and deciding leg "will be played" Nov. 29 at Toronto's BMO Field (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 11/22). In Columbus, Michael Arace notes Crew Chair Anthony Precourt "may or may not have been on the premises." But in any case, he was "not detectable, which was the best thing to happen to Crew fans in more than a month." Tuesday was "not about Precourt and the MLS mob that is backing him, it was about sport itself." TFC by playing to a draw "did the near-impossible in sapping the energy from what was, potentially, one of the most vociferous crowds in fairgrounds history." Tuesday night may have been the "last meaningful night in the old stadium’s history -- unless, of course, the Crew wins in Toronto." In that case, they will "host the MLS Cup final" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 11/22).

PLAYOFF PAYOFF: In Houston, Corey Roepken notes the Dynamo lost to the Sounders 2-0 in their conference finals opener, a "nightmarish performance in front of a record crowd of 22,661 at BBVA Compass Stadium." The "return leg is at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field on Nov. 30" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/22). Also in Houston, Maggie Gordon in a front-page piece notes the Dynamo have had "poor fan showings all season -- even as the team reached greater heights in playoffs than they have in several years." At the club's last home game, during the "final stretch of the Astros miracle season, one in three seats remained empty." But with the World Series over and the Dynamo in the playoffs, the club "easily filled BBVA Compass Stadium Tuesday night" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/22).

CALENDAR WOES: In DC, Steven Goff wrote, "Thought the 2017 season was already over? You’re not alone." TV scheduling demands, a stadium conflict in Seattle with CenturyLink Field and a FIFA fixture window "reduced the playoff storm to intermittent showers." Now in a league that "plays most regular season matches on weekends, only four of the 16 playoff games over 37 days leading to MLS Cup will fall on the weekends." MLS was "dark on the weekend of Nov. 10-12 because of the FIFA window, dark this past weekend and dark again this coming weekend." Weeknight matches after a long break "won’t dull the enthusiasm in the participating cities," but MLS is "aching to appeal to a broader audience, and sports fans look for, and stumble upon, televised sports on weekends, not weekdays." In soccer, a team "aims to establish rhythm," and MLS’s schedule-makers and TV partners "should want to do the same with these playoffs." Goff: "Right now, there is none" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 11/21).