MLS’ best-team ever is rolling into the MLS Eastern Conference Final thanks to an exuberant 3-0 win over Columbus Crew. That means New York Red Bulls fans will get at least more chance this year to gather at Red Bull Arena to cheer on the best team their club has ever put together - and that chance will fall on a Thursday evening in November because...reasons. We have no doubt MLS has reasons.
Conference final first leg TV air times, Nov. 25:— Jonathan Tannenwald (@thegoalkeeper) November 12, 2018
5 p.m., ESPN: Atlanta-RBNY
7:30 p.m., FS1: Portland-Kansas City
Second legs Nov. 29:
7 p.m., FS1: RBNY-Atlanta
9:30 p.m., ESPN: Kansas City-Portland
If you are surprised by the second leg schedule, you aren’t alone.
RBNY will play Atlanta United in what ought to be regarded as the 2018 playoffs’ true final: the regular-season’s best team against its second-best team. The team that appeared to be destined for a record-breaking year in MLS versus the one that actually did break the league’s single-season points record.
As the lower seed in the match-up, Atlanta will host the first leg of the series at 5:00 pm, Eastern on Sunday, November 25. And then RBNY will host the second leg four days later, at 7:00 pm, Eastern on Thursday, November 29 - because...reasons.
The scheduling is not ideal, not least because there is a whole weekend sitting idle on the other side of RBNY’s Thursday night date with Atlanta. But it is what it is: MLS wants to cram its Conference Finals into a four-day stretch in November. Players and fans of the teams involved will have to adapt their schedules accordingly.
The winner of the Atlanta-RBNY match-up will host this year’s MLS Cup final - against either Sporting Kansas City or Portland Timbers. That match is scheduled for Saturday, December 8 at 8:00 pm, Eastern.