Mauro Diaz may be a man of few words, but there is no shortage of stories about the FC Dallas midfielder.
There was the time that FC Dallas teammate Ryan Hollingshead gave a postgame interview in which he was effusive about Diaz's performance. When the assembled press walked over to Diaz to get his reaction, the entirety of his reply was, "Thank you, Ryan."
There was also the time that an FC Dallas staffer arranged a meeting between Diaz and one of his sporting heroes, San Antonio Spurs guard...
The MLS conference championships conclude on Sunday, with both top seeds trailing by two goals heading home for the second legs.
Since MLS went to two-leg playoff series in 2003, 12 teams have lost the first leg by exactly two goals. Seven of those dozen teams were down two goals heading home, as New York and FC Dallas are this year.
Of those seven teams, two overcame the deficit to advance: 2004 Kansas City versus San Jose and 2003 San Jose versus Los Angeles. One caveat here, particularly for FC Dallas, is that 2014 was the first season in which MLS used away goals as a tiebreaker for playoff series.
So what chances do FC Dallas and New York have of overcoming their two-goal deficits? And what are factors to watch in the second legs? This edition of the MLS Forecaster explores those questions and more using ESPN's Soccer Power Index (SPI).
ESPN's Soccer Power Index gives Columbus Crew SC a better than 80 percent chance to advance past the New York Red Bulls in Sunday's decisive Eastern Conference championship match and to the MLS Cup -- stacked odds that should shock no one after the Crew's 2-0 series-opening win at home last week.
It must be said that the league's absurd decision two years ago to adopt the away-goals tiebreaker for playoffs that are tied to a 34-game regular season makes what already would be a difficult task...
At the conclusion of the 2014 MLS season, Portland Timbers coach Caleb Porter and general manager Gavin Wilkinson knew what the side needed most, and that was defensive help. The team conceded 52 goals over the course of the campaign, and while the midseason arrival of center back Liam Ridgewell helped solidify the back line, even more reinforcements were needed.
Wilkinson and Porter had a specific profile in mind in terms of what kind of defender...