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Crew SC get to Eastern Conference finals with aggregate victory

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Columbus Crew's Justin Meram (9) is defended by New York City FC's Ben Sweat (2) during the first half of an MLS Eastern Conference semifinal soccer match Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

NEW YORK (AP) — The Columbus Crew advanced to the Eastern Conference finals, beating New York City FC 4-3 in the two-leg series after falling 2-0 in the second game Sunday night.

The Crew will host the Supporters Shield winner Toronto FC in Game 1 of the conference finals Nov. 21. Toronto will be without stars Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco. Altidore and New York Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan were sent off after a tunnel melee at halftime in the other semifinal game earlier Sunday and Giovinco received his second yellow card in two games.

NYC's David Villa opened the scoring in the 16th minute on a penalty kick as Zack Steffen dove the wrong way. It came after Josh Williams tripped Rodney Wallace in a non-threatening position at the corner of the 18-yard box.

Andraz Struna made it 2-0 in the 53rd on a deflected shot off the head of Crew defender Jonathan Mensah.

NYC had two quality goal-scoring opportunities in the 66th minute but Maximiliano Moralez was just wide on a header and Jack Harrison was denied on a breakaway by Steffen. In the 70th, Wallace chested a cross, cut back his defender and hit the post with a shot.

Former AC Milan midfielder Andrea Pirlo, who announced his retirement in October, entered in the 90th minute for NYC.

In the first leg Tuesday night, Artur started a three-goal outburst for Columbus in the second half, shortly after NYC went down a man, and the Crew won 4-1.

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