MLS Cup Playoffs 2013: Key Conference Championship Storylines

The MLS Cup Playoffs Conference Championships are about to begin and will feature some teams that observers expected to make it to this round and some that have been completely unpredictable. Out West, the top-seeded Portland Timbers will take on second-seeded Real Salt Lake, while the fourth-seeded Houston Dynamo will clash with second-seeded Sporting Kansas City in the East. The Western Conference Championship will feature a battle between two of the conference’s most consistently dominant teams. Meanwhile, the Eastern Conference round will be a tight contest between two sides that few could’ve predicted coming into the year.   Relentless Portland Attack The Timbers got a big win over their rivals, the Seattle Sounders, in the Western Conference Semifinal and proved that their offense isn’t to be trifled with. Portland piled up five goals over the course of the series and, while Seattle put up an impressive effort on defense at times, the Timbers were often just too much for them. Players like Donovan Ricketts and Diego Valeri supplied some of the team’s offensive firepower, but it's midfielder Darlington Nagbe that powered the attack in the middle. Nagbe completed 40 of his 44 passes in the second leg of the team’s matchup with Seattle and made some key ...
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