MLS Conference Semi-Final Predictions
Who Will Win MLS Conference Semi-Finals?
By Matt Pitt
Montreal Impact (+150) vs. New York Red Bulls (+170)
Montreal Impact’s reward for beating D.C. United 4-2 in the knockout round is home advantage in the first leg of their semi-final match with highly fancied New York Red Bulls.
Impact, fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, demolished the Red Bulls 3-0 in March at the Olympic Stadium, a result that is sure to fill the Canadian side with confidence. Something else boosting the Impact’s confidence levels will be the fact the Red Bulls do not travel well. During the regular season, Red Bulls only won three games, losing and drawing seven on the road (3-7-7), while Impact were 7-5-5 when on home soil.
Red Bulls beat Impact twice in the regular season, winning 3-1 in August and 1-0 in September. However, both of these games were at the Red Bull Arena where the New York team enjoyed an impressive 13-2-2 record.
This game has goals in it. That is for sure. Only NYCFC scored more goals in the regular season than the Red Bulls’ 61, while Red Bulls and Impact conceded a combined 97 goals between them during the regular season. This makes the Over 2.5 goals market at -125 an absolute bargain.
As for the outcome of the game, I don’t see this being as one-sided as the 3-0 Impact win in March, although Impact are capable of winning this game. Red Bulls will be happy to go back to New York with the game tied, so the draw at +235 would be my bet.
Due to the Red Bulls impressive home record, Impact will feel they have to win this game. This could leave Montreal open to Red Bull’s terrifying counter attack so expect Bradley Wright-Phillips to add to his Golden Boot winning tally of 24 goals by the time this game is completed.
I’m going for a draw in the first leg and a Red Bulls victory when they meet for the second leg on November 6.
LA Galaxy (-115) vs. Colorado Rapids (+315)
Galaxy beat Real Salt Lake 3-1 to set up an exciting clash with Colorado Rapids and will enjoy home advantage for the first leg. These teams met twice at the StubHub Centre during regular season, with both games finishing even; the first was 0-0, the second was 1-1.
The sides have met seven times in the playoffs and Galaxy hold a 6-1-0 advantage over the Rapids, and they have a 35-21-10 advantage in all other contests between the two.
The under 2.5 goals at -130 looks a great bet due to the previous meetings between the two sides, but Galaxy will most likely want to head to Colorado with at least a goal advantage because the Rapids, with a record of 11-0-6, were almost unbeatable in the Mile High City.
Rapids are miserly in defence having only conceded 32 goals in 34 games, but they also only scored 39 goals during the same period.
I particularly like the Draw-LA Galaxy half time/full time market at +300 and also the 2-0 Galaxy win at +650 for this clash at the StubHub, although the Rapids only conceded two or more goals seven times in the regular season.
As for the return leg, I can see Rapids sneaking a 1-0 victory, one of their favorite score lines. Will 1-0 be enough to see Rapids progress, or will it take the game into extra time and penalties?
Toronto FC (-130) vs. New York City FC (+310)
Toronto take on NYCFC at home in the first leg of their semi-final game and we should expect goals in this game if the previous meetings are anything to go by. The two teams have met five times in the past two seasons and a total of 18 goals have been scored making the -180 available on over 2.5 goals look a real steal.
Both meetings this season ended in draws: it was 2-2 in New York and 1-1 at the BMO Field in Toronto. Five of those six goals were scored in the first half, so perhaps consider betting on the over 1.5 goals in the first half at +125 with Bovada.
Toronto went 8-3-6 at home, while NYCFC were 7-7-3 on their travels. However, NYCFC went 1-4-2 in their previous seven away ties so a Toronto FC win at -130 is a good bet to employ.
With the likes of Frank Lampard and David Villa among their ranks, NYCFC have the experience to win from this game, but they’ll more than settle for a draw in Toronto with the prospect of a home encounter at Yankee Stadium in waiting.
Seattle Sounders (+135) vs. FC Dallas (+200)
The Seattle Sounders have a great all-time record, 10-5-5, against FC Dallas including a 5-0 win at the CenturyLink Field in July 2016. Don’t expect a similar score when the sides meet on October 30, however. Dallas have tightened up in defence, conceding only 10 goals in the last 12 matches.
Also, the Dallas side that was hammered 5-0 comprised of mostly reserve team players, while the Mauro Diaz pulled the strings when Dallas beat the Sounders 2-0 and 2-1 at home, but Diaz missed this game through injury.
Both teams are excellent at home (10-5-2 for Sounders and 12-1-4 for Dallas) but neither travel particularly well (4-9-4 for Sounders and 5-7-5 for Dallas) so this tie could end up level after both legs are completed.
It is worth noting Sounders beat Dallas at this stage in 2014, but needed the away goals rule to do so. Dallas then returned the favor in 2015 but needed penalties to eliminate Sounders at the semi-final stage.
This one is difficult to predict and I’d be betting on the Sounders to win at home at +135, subsequently wagering on Dallas to win the return leg as soon as those odds become available.
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