The Major League Soccer play-offs have already exceeded expectations after the drama and excitement of the first round. From this point on, the tension will only be ramped up further as teams get closer to the showpiece event at the start of next month - the MLS Cup. Here are four tips for the conference semi finals.
New York City FC v Toronto FC
Yankee Stadium, Wednesday October 23
As the number one seeds in the Eastern Conference, this is perhaps New York City FC’s best chance of winning MLS Cup in their five-year existence until now. Indeed, Dome Torrent’s side are hot coming into this match. NYC FC have won seven of their last eight matches played at Yankee Stadium and have lost just one of their last six home and away. They have been gathering momentum for a play-off run for quite some time.
Toronto FC have some momentum of their own after their Round 1 extra time win over DC United at the weekend. Their recent record also makes for good reading and have drawn five of the last six matches they have played on the road. That toughness away from home could prove to be crucial on Wednesday night.
1u - Back Toronto FC To Win @ +260
Seattle Sounders v Real Salt Lake
CenturyLink Field, Wednesday October 23
The Seattle Sounders’ extra time win over FC Dallas was arguably the pick of the bunch in what was an exhilarating weekend of play-off soccer in MLS. The omens are good for the Sounders ahead of this Western Conference semi final. They are undefeated in their last six matches at CenturyLink Field and have won eight of their last nine home games against Real Salt Lake in all competitions.
However, Real Salt Lake are one a three-game winning streak. Those wins have been narrow, with the victories all earned by a one-goal margin, but they have momentum on their side. On the flip side of the above stats, RSL have won four of their last five games against the Sounders. Keeping that run going away from home will be the tricky part.
0.5u - Back Seattle Sounders Asian Handicap -0.5 @ -153
Atlanta United v Philadelphia Union
Mercedes Benz Stadium, Thursday October 24
The kings of 2018 are still in the mix to keep their crown. Atlanta United remain a force in MLS after their championship triumph last year, getting past the New England Revolution in the first round at the weekend. Frank de Boer’s side have been quite the force at home this season, winning seven of their last eight games at Mercedes Benz Stadium.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Union have failed to score in five of their last seven away matches. They have also conceded at least two goals in their last three games. That has to be a concern for Jim Curtin as he heads to the home of one of the most dangerous attacking teams in the league at this moment.
1u - Back Both Teams To Score @ -187
Los Angeles FC v LA Galaxy
Banc of California Stadium, Thursday October 24
This is the match most pinpointed as soon as the MLS play-off bracket came into sight as a potential game of the season. Los Angeles FC have been the predominant force in North American soccer this season, winning the Supporters’ Shield at a canter. Bob Bradley’s side are MLS’s top scorers, scoring at least three times in eight of their last 10 home matches.
But in two years of their existence LAFC have yet to beat their closest and fiercest rivals, the LA Galaxy, who seem to have their number. Zlatan Ibrahimovic in particular has scored eight times in five games against LAFC. Expect goals from this one, with over 2.5 goals scored in the Galaxy’s last 10 games and over 2.5 goals scored in eight of LAFC’s last 10 matches at home.
1.5u - Back Over 3.5 Total Goals @ -128