Here we go. This is when the Major League Soccer Major League Soccer season gets real, when entire campaigns are put on the line and when legends are made. The 2019 MLS play-offs kick off this weekend and there are plot lines every which way you look. Atlanta United have their crown to defend, while the New York Red Bulls are looking to break their MLS Cup duck. Here are four tips for Round 1 of the 2019 MLS play-offs.
Atlanta United v New England Revolution
Mercedes Benz Stadium, Saturday October 19
It was around this time last year that Atlanta United got hot, going all the way to win their first ever MLS Cup. A lot has changed since then, though. Tata Martino and Miguel Almiron are no longer at the club, for starters. However, Atlanta remain a real force, especially at Mercedes Benz Stadium where they have won 12 of their last 14 league games. A lot will also depend on whether Josef Martinez, their top scorer and spiritual leader, is fully fit after a recent spell out.
That the New England Revolution are even in the play-offs should be considered a success. They suffered a dismal start to the season, but things were turned around after the appointment of Bruce Arena. He has made the Revs tougher to beat, but the omens are against his side here. New England have conceded at least two goals in their last four away matches, while there has been over 2.5 goals in eight of Atlanta’s last nine home games.
2u - Back Atlanta United Over 1.5 Goals @ -285
Toronto FC v DC United
BMO Field, Saturday October 19
There’s an argument to be made that Toronto FC are the in-form team coming into the play-offs. You have to go back to the start of August for the last defeat suffered by the 2017 MLS Cup winners, a run that goes back 10 matches. Things have still been rather tight for them at home, though. Indeed, they have won by a one-goal margin in each of their last three matches at BMO Field.
DC United are undefeated in their last five matches. This could be Wayne Rooney’s final match in MLS, with the former England international set to join Derby County once DC United’s season is over. Might that give the visitors some momentum? DC United have kept a clean sheet in their last five matches. All the signs point to this being a tight affair.
0.75u - Back Under 1.5 Goals @ +380
Philadelphia Union v New York Red Bulls
Talen Energy Stadium, Sunday October 20
This East coast clash offers one of the more compelling match-ups of the first round of the 2019 MLS play-offs. The Philadelphia Union have been one of the success stories of the season, surprising many to finish third in the Eastern Conference. There is a feeling, however, that Jim Curtin’s side have run out of steam in the final third of the year, coming into the post-season on the back of successive defeats.
The New York Red Bulls are used to these surroundings. They are arguably MLS’s most consistent regular season team, but they have a mental block when it comes to the play-offs. The Harrison club have still to get their hands on MLS Cup. They too come into this game in patchy form with over 2.5 goals scored in five of the Red Bulls’ last six away games.
1u - Back Philadelphia Union To Win @ +105
Minnesota United v LA Galaxy
Allianz Field, Sunday October 20
For the first time, Minnesota United are in the MLS play-offs. Their improvement over the course of this season has been significant, losing just one of their last five matches coming into the post-season. Indeed, the Loons are undefeated in their last 10 games at Allianz Field. Adrian Heath has succeeded in making them a tough team to break down.
The LA Galaxy might stand as a good a chance as any of breaking through Minnesota’s defensive wall. They have scored at least twice in nine of their last 10 league matches. There has also been over 2.5 goals in the Galaxy’s last nine games. However, they haven’t yet found a way to close the door at the back, conceding at least two in nine of their last 10 outings.
1u - Back Over 3.5 Goals @ +120