Vancouver Whitecaps can build upon their hugely successful campaign

The Vancouver Whitecaps enjoyed a hugely successful year in MLS but Carl Robinson’s side unfortunately ran out of steam during the playoffs at the end of the season. It may seem baffling to label their failure to make the Conference Finals as a ‘success’ but the Caps were written off by many ahead of the campaign and their significant progress can be seen as an overachievement, which gives them plenty to build upon ahead of 2018.

The Caps were pipped to the Western Conference title by the Portland Timbers, leaving the Canadian outfit to negotiate their way through the knockout round of the MLS Playoffs. After a long season, this was far from ideal for Robinson’s side and fatigue began to set in. Fredy Montero missed the game against the Timbers on the final day of the regular season and his absence was evident throughout, as a lack of potency in the final third hindered the Caps.

Injuries also prevented them from making a fast start with key midfielder Yordy Reyna missing the first few games of the campaign. However, their consistency soon shone through and they ended the season having been defeated in back-to-back matches on just one occasion.

Vancouver Whitecaps cruised through the knockout stage but were undone by MLS Cup finalists and near-neighbours Seattle Sounders. They also progressed to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League. Despite an underwhelming couple of performances when it mattered, there were plenty of reasons to be positive and the men from BC Place can now look ahead to the 2018 campaign with optimism.

There is a lack of star quality in the Caps’ starting lineup but Robinson has stressed the importance of hard work, and the players also clearly enjoy one another’s company away from the pitch. There is a team spirit within the camp that appears hard to break and, with a few savvy additions during the off-season, they should exceed expectations once again in 2018.

Robinson’s side must continue their upward momentum and anyone who is thinking of backing them to bounce back and finish top of the Western Conference next season can use one of the many free bets detailed by Oddschecker, including a free £30 from William Hill, who price up over 150 different markets on each MLS game throughout the campaign.

Robinson has told reporters that he expects plenty of changes at the club throughout the off-season, suggesting the team “need to evolve”. David Ousted has already departed the club with the hierarchy deciding not to take up the option to re-sign the 32-year-old goalkeeper. However, Russell Teibert has agreed a new three-year deal to stay on the west coast of Canada until 2020, with the 24-year-old now the Caps’ longest-serving player.

The team will travel to Nevada, California, and Hawaii during the off-season as they prepare for another potentially energy-sapping campaign. Robinson wants to make pre-season as competitive as possible, which should help avoid another sluggish start in March. The Whitecaps are not amongst the favourites for the 2018 MLS Cup but they are a team who relish the chance to over-perform and exceed all expectations. They will once again go into the new campaign amongst the outsiders but there is plenty to build upon and it’ll be tough to write them off.

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MLS Playoffs Preview and Prediction: Seattle Sounders vs Houston Dynamo

2017 MLS Cup Playoffs – Western Conference Final (2nd Leg): Seattle Sounders vs Houston Dynamo

CenturyLink Field – Thursday, November 30 – 22:30 ET (03:30 GMT)

Match Odds: Seattle 3/4 – Draw 5/2 – Houston 7/2

Seattle Sounders vs Houston Dynamo: Preview

The Seattle Sounders welcome Houston Dynamo to CenturyLink Field on Thursday night for the second-leg of the 2017 Western Conference Final.

Many felt the Dynamo had nothing to lose heading into last week’s first-leg. But it seems whatever they did have to lose was lost on the night as the Sounders ran out 2-0 winners against a Houston side that had 10 men for more than an hour.

Jalil Anibaba’s 28th-minute red card left the Dynamo with a mountain to climb. Joe Willis may have saved the resulting penalty kick from Nicolas Lodeiro but they were already 1-0 down and that lead was doubled when Will Bruin fired in before halftime.

The Sounders had plenty more chances to put the game – and probably the tie – to bed but the Dynamo held on to somehow retain some form of optimistic hope ahead of Thursday’s second leg.

But make no mistake about it, Seattle have taken one giant stride into the MLS Cup Final. They have two crucial away goal and are well on track to have a chance at retaining their championship on December 9.

The Dynamo have to score at least two goals to have any chance at turning the tie around on Thursday night. But the Sounders have only conceded more than one goal at home on two occasions this season. And didn’t lose either of those games.

Seattle are unbeaten in 15 at home. They don’t need to attack Houston and should be able to wait for opportunities to attack on the counter. The odds of Houston advancing are slim but it should set up an exciting game as they have no choice but to go for it.

Seattle Sounders vs Houston Dynamo: Team News

The Seattle Sounders won’t be able to call on the services of powerful defender Roman Torres. The Panamanian is suspended as a result of yellow card accumulation but will be back for the MLS Cup Final, should Seattle advance. Stefan Frei missed the first leg with a hamstring strain and could return here, although his status isn’t yet confirmed. Brad Evans and Jordan Morris are ruled out with ongoing injury problems. Osvaldo Alonso is listed as questionable but could be in line to return.

The Dynamo will be without Jalil Anibaba, following his red card in last week’s first leg. Alberth Elis is also suspended as a result of yellow card accumulation. Tyler Deric is suspended as a result of off-field conduct. George Malki, AJ DeLaGarza and Memo Rodriguez remain their only injury absentees.

Seattle Sounders vs Houston Dynamo: Key Points

Seattle Sounders’ last five: W/W/D/W/W

Houston Dynamo’s last five: W/W/D/W/L

Key Stat: Fortress – Seattle Sounders have won their last four home games (including playoffs) by a combined score of 12-0. It’s been almost seven months since they lost at CenturyLink Field.

Key Player: Clint Dempsey – The veteran attacker scored twice in the Western Conference Semifinal win over Vancouver at home and will be looking to help the hosts through here. He is playing with extra hunger after missing last season’s run to the title and will be looking to exploit a Houston defence that will undoubtedly leave gaps as they chase a comeback.

Seattle Sounders vs Houston Dynamo: Prediction

Seattle Sounders 2-1 Houston Dynamo – The Dynamo have to go for it. They have enough attacking options to hurt the Sounders backline, particularly given the absence of Roman Torres. But the problem is, the more they attack, the more open they will be to the Sounders’ ruthless attack. The likes of Lodeiro and Dempsey will be looking to be clinical and put the tie to bed. Expect both sides to score, but the Sounders are surely sailing through to the final.

MLS Playoffs Preview and Prediction: Seattle Sounders vs Vancouver Whitecaps

2017 MLS Cup Playoffs – Western Conference Semifinal (2nd Leg): Seattle Sounders vs Vancouver Whitecaps

CenturyLink Field – Thursday, November 2 – 22:30 ET (02:30 GMT)

Match Odds: Seattle 8/15 – Draw 3/1 – Vancouver 9/2

Seattle Sounders vs Vancouver Whitecaps: Preview

The Seattle Sounders meet Cascadia rivals Vancouver Whitecaps for the second leg of their Western Conference Semifinal on Thursday night. The first leg ended in a fairly uneventful 0-0 draw. That result does set up for what should be a thrilling night here though.

The scenarios are fairly simple. A Seattle win inside 90 minutes will send them into the Western Conference Final. Another scoreless draw would take the game to extra-time and maybe penalties. A score draw or Vancouver win would send them through.

Both sets of fans have reason for optimism. Both teams have the quality to win Thursday’s meeting. And their previous meetings this season suggest there is nothing to pick between the two.

Seattle are the slight favourites as they have home-field advantage. They won all three home postseason games on their way to their MLS Cup title last year and haven’t lost a home playoff game since 2013.

They will be going out to win. A Vancouver goal would pile the pressure on the hosts but they know they have enough to get past the Whitecaps, having beaten them 3-0 at CenturyLink Field just over a month ago.

It’s been almost five months since the Sounders lost a home game. They have won three on the spin in front of their own fans, scoring 10 and conceding none in that stretch. They need to keep that going if they are to advance.

The Whitecaps might arrive with a more cautious game plan. They will be looking to counter and steal an away goal early to put themselves in the driving seat.

They have done well at CenturyLink Field in recent seasons too, despite the hostility from the home support. The Whitecaps have won four of the last six MLS meetings between the two sides at the stadium. Although they have dropped the most recent two without scoring.

These two went 1-1-1 through their three regular season meetings in 2017. That was followed by a 0-0 draw in the first-leg of this semi. So expect this to be close, hard-fought but most of all, entertaining.

Seattle Sounders vs Vancouver Whitecaps: Team News

Clint Dempsey is available for the Sounders again as he returns from suspension. Osvaldo Alonso and Gustav Svensson could be in line to start, after both came off the bench in the first-leg draw at BC Place. However, Jordan Morris and Brad Evans are out. Victor Rodriguez is listed as ‘questionable’.

Vancouver have a couple of significant injury worries of their own. David Edgar and Matias Laba are ruled out with long-term injuries. While Yordy Reyna and Cristian Techera might have to start on the bench as both are carrying knocks.

Seattle Sounders vs Vancouver Whitecaps: Key Points

Seattle Sounders’ last five: W/L/W/W/D

Vancouver Whitecaps’ last five: L/D/L/W/D

Key Stat: The Vancouver Whitecaps have never won an away game in the MLS Cup Playoffs (0-2-1). Their only draw was a 0-0 tie at Portland in 2015.

Key Player: Clint Dempsey – He’s back from suspension and should be raring to go on such a huge night. This will be his 10th game against the Whitecaps but he only has one career goal against them. However, that did come in the 3-0 win in late September. If anyone is going to provide the difference, it’s likely to be Dempsey.

Seattle Sounders vs Vancouver Whitecaps: Prediction

Seattle Sounders 2-1 Vancouver Whitecaps – This one should be close but it’s hard to look past the Sounders. The Whitecaps have never won an away game in the playoffs, while the Sounders tend to produce their best in front of their home crowd. An early goal would open the tie right up but we see the hosts prevailing by the odd goal on the night.

2017 MLS Decision Day Predictions: Three-way battle for last playoff spot, plus a crucial Cascadia Cup battle in Portland

2017 MLS Decision Day Predictions – Here we go. The final day of the regular season. It’s the only day of the season in which all 22 MLS sides take to the field simultaneously. The result? A full 90 minutes of action-packed drama, with a whole host of goals expected. All 11 games kickoff at 4pm ET (9pm BST) on Sunday night. You don’t want to miss it.

The 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs are fast approaching and although 11 of the 12 postseason spots are already filled, there are teams across both conferences fighting for that all-important Knockout Round bye. Three teams are fighting for one remaining playoff spot in the East and that’s where you can expect most the focus to be on Sunday. San Jose Earthquakes, FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake all still have a chance of clinching a spot on the final day of the regular season and all three have the added bonus of playing at home.

Read on for all 2017 MLS Decision Day Predictions…

Atlanta United 3-1 Toronto FC

What a game this should be. The 2017 season’s best side and Supporters’ Shield winners travel to the league’s most exciting team of the campaign on the final day. Toronto don’t really have anything to play for here. They have secure their Knockout Round bye and can afford to rest players ready for the playoffs. But Atlanta could still finish second in the East. They must win and hope both NYCFC and Chicago fail to pick up victories. At least expect them to do their part of that job…

Embed from Getty ImagesDC United 1-1 New York Red Bulls

The DC United faithful will take to the RFK Stadium stands for the last time this weekend. Other than that there is nothing for either DC or Red Bulls to play for. The home side are guaranteed to finish bottom of the Eastern Conference, but they will be hoping to sign off at RFK in style. Red Bulls can’t finish anywhere other than sixth, with the playoffs looming they will want to avoid defeat, but more importantly, avoid unnecessary injuries. Expect an emotional one for DC, but not much else.

Embed from Getty ImagesMontreal Impact 3-2 New England Revolution

This is the final fixture of what has been an underwhelming season for both Montreal and The Revs. Both have failed to make the playoffs and there isn’t much to cheer about here. New England have failed to win a game on the road in the 2017 regular season. It seems unlikely that it will come away at Montreal, but given there is little but pride to play for here, it might just happen. Can they finally pick up three points away from home on the Decision Day?

Embed from Getty ImagesNew York City FC 2-1 Columbus Crew

New York City FC will look to hold onto second place in the East with a Decision Day win over the Crew. But they’ll have to try and do it away from their usual surroundings. That’s because Sunday’s game will take place at Citi Field, as a result of the New York Yankees game at Yankee Stadium on October 20. Columbus Crew fans have been threatened with a franchise move to Austin. They can lift spirits significantly with a good playoff run and could even get a Knockout Round bye still. A win at NYCFC, coupled with Atlanta and Chicago failing to win would do it. But it’s unlikely to fall into place for them. Second place is NYCFC’s to lose and we don’t see them losing it.

Embed from Getty ImagesPhiladelphia Union 2-2 Orlando City

Another game which will have very little impact on the rest of the East. Both are level on 39 points ahead of the game and having failed to make the playoffs. The result will confirm the finishing position for both sides but considering it’s outside of the top six, there isn’t much to get excited about. Signing off with a win will be the mindset for Philadelphia and Orlando, but with the stats not offering much to split them on, a score draw seems a likely outcome.

Embed from Getty ImagesFC Dallas 3-1 LA Galaxy

What happened to FCD? One of the early season favourites are who are now reliant on results going their way to make the playoffs. If San Jose pick up a win it is all out of their hands. This is easily one of the main fixtures to follow on Decision Day. LA Galaxy face the very real prospect of finishing bottom of the Western Conference. 2017 has been a season to forget for LA and although a win isn’t going to make things any better, they will still be looking to avoid propping up the standings.

Embed from Getty ImagesReal Salt Lake 2-2 Sporting Kansas City

Another Decision Day clash that’s worth keeping an eye on. Real Salt Lake could still finish in a playoff spot, however it seems an unlikely outcome. They are reliant on Dallas and San Jose to both fail to win. The pressure is far from intense for Sporting Kansas City considering they have already secured their place in the post-season action. They can however still end the season with a Knockout Round bye, similarly to RSL, it’s an outcome that is out of their hands as they will need Portland and Seattle to fail to win. A fixture with an outside chance for both sides, with SKC the happier ahead of kick off.

Embed from Getty ImagesPortland Timbers 3-1 Vancouver Whitecaps

A Decision Day rivalry clash. A battle for top spot in the West. And a battle for the 2017 Cascadia Cup. This is going to be one hell of a ride. The Whitecaps beat the Timbers 4-1 on Decision Day a year ago to clinch the Cascadia Cup and also eliminate their rivals – and reigning MLS Cup champs at the time – from playoff contention on the final day. There won’t be anything that dramatic this time around but one of these sides would guarantee a Knockout Round bye with victory. A win would also secure top spot in the West for either. Portland have won five-straight games at home and should get revenge for last year’s final day loss at BC Place.

San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 Minnesota United

The San Jose Earthquakes are 90 minutes away from clinching their first playoff spot since the Supporters’ Shield winning season of 2012. But standing in their way are the ever unpredictable Loons, who will be looking to spoil the party. The Quakes control their own destiny. Win, and they’re in. Anything other than that would open the door to Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas, who will be looking to pounce on any San Jose slip-up. Don’t expect this one to be pretty, but the Quakes should get the job done.

Embed from Getty ImagesSeattle Sounders 3-0 Colorado Rapids

The Sounders are unbeaten in 12 games at CenturyLink Field and will be looking to sign off for the regular season in style. They still can earn a Knockout Round bye with a win, regardless of any other results and that will be the main aim for the reigning champions. Colorado’s season ended a while ago but they’ve been busy ruining other teams’ seasons over the past few weeks. They’d love to sign off with a win but it seems highly unlikely.

Houston Dynamo 1-1 Chicago Fire

Both these sides have done incredibly well to clinch playoff spots after promising seasons. Both were well out of the picture 12 months ago but have improved dramatically over the past 12 months. They’ll both now be thinking of the postseason but Chicago have a really good chance of securing a Knockout Round bye if they can win at BBVA Compass Stadium. They’ll guarantee home-field advantage with a win anyway and that will be their aim. Although the Dynamo are unbeaten in five and will want that streak to keep going into the playoffs. Score draw.

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MLS Preview and Prediction: Toronto FC vs New York Red Bulls

Major League Soccer: Toronto FC vs New York Red Bulls

BMO Field – Saturday, September 30 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)

Match Odds: Toronto 1/2 – Draw 16/5 – NY Red Bulls 9/2

Toronto FC vs New York Red Bulls: Preview

Toronto FC welcome the New York Red Bulls to BMO Field on Saturday evening, looking to end their two-game losing streak and secure a first Supporters’ Shield title.

The Reds need three points to guarantee a top-placed finish after an excellent season. They have looked vulnerable in their past two games, but the absences of Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco are valid excuses for those defeats.

Toronto are on 62 points, seven in front of NYCFC coming into the weekend. They need to reach 65 points to guarantee the Supporters’ Shield win, but they could still wrap up the win regardless, depending on NYCFC and Atlanta’s results on Saturday.

via @TorontoFC on Twitter

What is clear is that Toronto have been the best side in MLS this season. They are heading into the playoffs as the team to beat and will be looking to go one further than last year’s heartbreaking penalty shootout loss.

The Red Bulls can’t make any postseason plans until they knuckle down and secure their spot. They’ve not won in nine-straight MLS outings and have seemingly been doing all they can to let those in behind put pressure on.

Wednesday night’s 3-3 draw with DC United was a prime example of what’s gone wrong for the Red Bulls in recent weeks. They came back to lead 3-2 heading into the final minutes, but a Fidel Escobar own goal in stoppage time saw the game end 3-3.

Jesse Marsch’s men are still four points clear of Montreal coming into the weekend. They should be able to wrap up a top six finish, especially with back-to-back home games coming up after Saturday’s trip to Toronto.

But the worry is that they have no real form to be optimistic about if they do indeed lock down their playoff spot. They still have four regular season games to play though. The job will now be to start performing better at a pivotal stage of the campaign.

This will be the third meeting between the two sides this season. They shared the points in a 1-1 draw at Red Bull Arena back in May. Toronto haven’t won any of their last three games against the Red Bulls.

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Toronto FC vs New York Red Bulls: Team News

Toronto are set to still be without Benoit Cheyrou, although Greg Vanney has said he may have a fully fit squad to choose from. That should mean Jozy Altidore and Nick Hagglund return, with Sebastian Giovinco a doubt.

The New York Red Bulls received a boost on Wednesday as Daniel Royer made his long-awaited return from injury. But Aurelien Collin is still out, while Gideon Baah is out for the season. The same applies for Mike Grella, who won’t play again in 2017. Gonzalo Veron will be pushing for a start after making a positive impact off the bench on Wednesday.

Toronto FC vs New York Red Bulls: Key Points

Toronto FC’s last five: W/W/W/L/L

New York Red Bulls’ last five: D/D/L/L/D

Key Stat: Toronto have lost back-to-back games for the first time this season. They haven’t lost three consecutive MLS games since the end of the 2015 season.

Key Player: Bradley Wright-Phillips – If the Red Bulls are to get three points here, they’ll need BWP to be on song. He has scored in his last two away games and will be confident given Toronto’s recent defensive lapses.

Toronto FC vs New York Red Bulls: Prediction

Toronto FC 2-2 New York Red Bulls – The last two games between these two have ended all square. We see that trend continuing on Saturday evening. Toronto still need three points to guarantee the Supporters’ Shield title, and they will want to prevent a three-game losing streak as the playoffs edge closer. The Red Bulls need to try and secure their playoff spot. They have been struggling of late and haven’t been able to pick up wins. A point at BMO Field would be a positive result, with back-to-back home games coming up next.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Montreal Impact vs New York City FC

Major League Soccer: Montreal Impact vs New York City FC

Stade Saputo – Wednesday, September 27 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)

Match Odds: Montreal 23/20 – Draw 5/2 – NYCFC 2/1

Montreal Impact vs New York City FC: Preview

Montreal Impact welcome New York City FC to Stade Saputo on Wednesday night with their season hanging by a thread. The home side’s playoff hopes are in the balance and they need three points to keep them alive.

Montreal’s postseason hopes received a huge boost with last Wednesday’s 5-3 win at Toronto. But they followed that result up with a 2-0 defeat at Atlanta on Saturday and still have it all to do.

The Impact have made the playoffs in each of the past two seasons but are at real risk of missing out this time around. They trail the New York Red Bulls by three points coming into Wednesday’s games. Plus, the Red Bulls have a game in hand.

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Montreal are six points off matching last season’s total points tally with five games to go. They haven’t necessarily gone backwards as a team, but failing to make the postseason would be a massive disappointment.

New York City will have no such problem as they booked their place in the playoffs this weekend. They became the second team to guarantee a top six finish in the East, as results went in their favour.

Despite failing to beat DC United at home in that 1-1 draw, NYCFC secured their playoff berth as a result of the Impact’s loss at Atlanta. The visitors will now be hoping to pile more misery on the Canadian side as they look to pick up form ahead of the postseason.

Patrick Vieira’s men haven’t won in three and know they need to improve form over the final few games of the regular season. They have only lost one of their last eight and are tough to beat but need to rediscover that clinical edge before entering knockout football.

This will be the second and final meeting between the two sides in 2017, unless they meet in the playoffs. They shared the points in a 1-1 draw at Yankee Stadium back in Week 3. NYCFC have won both their previous away trips to Montreal in MLS so far.

Montreal Impact vs New York City FC: Team News

Montreal’s only injury concern remains Ambroise Oyongo as the left-back is out for the season. Hernan Bernadello, Laurent Ciman, Blerim Dzemaili and Victor Cabrera are all one booking away from suspension and need to be careful.

New York City FC will travel to Montreal without three players. Miguel Camargo and Maxime Chanot are long-term absentees, while Yangel Herrera is also sidelined. Alex Ring is listed as ‘questionable’ with a toe injury. Maxi Moralez is one booking away from suspension.

Montreal Impact vs New York City FC: Key Points

Montreal Impact’s last five: L/L/L/W/L

New York City FC’s last five: D/W/L/D/D

Key Stat: Montreal have lost three consecutive home games coming into Wednesday’s game. They have not lost four in a row at home in MLS since joining the league in 2012.

Key Player: Ignacio Piatti – If Montreal are going to keep their playoff hopes alive, they need their star man to shine. The playmaker scored twice and picked up one assist in the 5-3 win over Toronto last week. Expect him to look to take the game to New York City from the off, as he looks to prove the difference once again.

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Montreal Impact vs New York City FC: Prediction

Montreal Impact 2-2 New York City FC – The problem for Montreal is that they are so inconsistent. They can put goals past anyone when on song, as proven against Toronto last week. But they concede too many and that ultimately costs them more often than not. NYCFC have dropped off a little themselves, but they are still hard to beat. The Impact need this more but they might not have enough left to make the postseason for the third-straight season. Score draw.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Real Salt Lake vs Seattle Sounders

Major League Soccer: Real Salt Lake vs Seattle Sounders

Rio Tinto Stadium – Saturday, September 23 – 21:30 ET (02:30 BST)

Match Odds: RSL 23/20 – Draw 12/5 – Seattle 21/10

Real Salt Lake vs Seattle Sounders: Preview

Real Salt Lake host Seattle Sounders in what will be an important Western Conference clash on Saturday night. Both sides are in good form and looking to seal playoff spots over the final few weeks of the regular season.

RSL come into the game in good spirits after beating Portland 2-1 last weekend. That was their third-straight home win and they know that making Rio Tinto a fortress for the remainder of the campaign is crucial.

The home side will only have three games left to play after this weekend and know they must avoid defeat to keep their playoff hopes alive. They come into the weekend in sixth place in the West. But FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo are on the same points, with two games in hand over RSL.

Anything but an RSL win would spell trouble. But Seattle will arrive looking to dampen hopes and keep their unbeaten run alive. The Sounders haven’t lost in 13 consecutive MLS outings and are well on track to make the playoffs.

The visitors come into the weekend in fourth but they are only a point off top-placed Vancouver, who have played one game less. A win at Rio Tinto would basically guarantee that Seattle will finish above RSL, which would provide them with another boost ahead of the postseason.

The reigning MLS Cup holders have looked difficult to beat but without proving a clinical edge in recent weeks. They’ve drawn four consecutive games, scoring just three goals in the process.

Saturday’s game is expected to be tight as neither side will want to over commit at the risk of being caught on the counter. RSL know the pressure is on them but Seattle will look to frustrate them and stay unbeaten.

Real Salt Lake vs Seattle Sounders: Team News

Real Salt Lake remain without Chad Barrett, Jordan Allen, Omar Holness and Ricardo Velazco through injury. Demar Phillips is listed as ‘questionable’ with a hamstring problem. Mike Petke is unlikely to make any changes to the side that beat Portland last week.

Seattle Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer will be hoping Chad Marshall is able to return after missing last week’s game with a hamstring strain. He is listed as ‘questionable’ ahead of Saturday’s match. Brad Evans, Jordan Morris and Calum Mallace are all ruled out.

Real Salt Lake vs Seattle Sounders: Key Points

Real Salt Lake’s last five: L/W/W/L/W

Seattle Sounders’ last five: W/D/D/D/D

Key Stat: Seattle Sounders haven’t won away at Real Salt Lake since a 1-0 playoff win in 2012. RSL have won all five regular season meetings since.

Key Player: Albert Rusnak – The RSL Designated Player was man of the match in last week’s 2-1 win over Portland. He picked up his seventh MLS goal and 12th assist of the season in that victory. He’ll need to put in a similar display to lead RSL to another home win on Saturday.

Real Salt Lake vs Seattle Sounders: Prediction

Real Salt Lake 1-1 Seattle Sounders – Real Salt Lake know they really need to win this game if they’re going to stand a chance of making the playoffs. There is still time for things to change in the West but failure to pick up three points would leave them in trouble. Seattle are a team that are really difficult to break down though. They arrive off the back of a 13-game unbeaten streak in league play and will want to keep that going for the remainder of the regular season. This should be cagey and ultimately we see it ending all square.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Toronto FC vs Montreal Impact

Major League Soccer: Toronto FC vs Montreal Impact

BMO Field – Wednesday, September 20 – [19:30 ET (00:30 BST)

Match Odds: Toronto 4/11 – Draw 15/4 – Montreal 6/1

Toronto FC vs Montreal Impact: Preview

Toronto FC take on Montreal Impact in the penultimate 401 Derby clash of the 2017 regular season. The two rivals come into the game in contrasting form, with Toronto on a red hot streak and Montreal really struggling.

Toronto made it six wins on the bounce with a 4-0 demolition over LA Galaxy on Saturday night. That away win was made even more impressive when you consider Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco didn’t travel to California.

Don’t miss: Will Toronto break the record for the highest MLS points tally?

The Reds are closing in on their first-ever Supporters’ Shield title. They are 11 points clear of NYCFC in second place. They need five points to guarantee top spot, with their playoff place already confirmed.

via @TorontoFC on Twitter

Montreal fell 3-2 at home to Minnesota on Saturday night, making it four-straight losses. The Impact found a bit of form through August, winning four on the spin. But since then, they’ve reversed their form and dropped four consecutive games.

They are six points outside the top six with six games to play. Failure to win on Wednesday night would leave them with a mountain to climb if they’re to make the postseason.

After making the playoffs for the past two seasons, it would be a serious step backwards for the franchise if they failed to make the top six this term. But that concern will likely become a reality with a loss at their rivals here.

Toronto won the reverse fixture 3-1 last month, with goals from Giovinco (2) and Altidore proving too much. The Reds also beat Montreal over two legs to win the Canadian Championship back in June.

Toronto FC vs Montreal Impact: Team News

Toronto FC should welcome back star attacking duo Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco here after both were rested for the trip to LA. Benoit Cheyrou and Nick Hagglund are both ruled out through injury once again. Greg Vanney might make changes to his side again here, with a trip to New England coming up on Saturday.

Montreal Impact’s only injury absentee remains Ambroise Oyongo, as he is ruled out for the season. The Impact face a tricky trip to Atlanta United on Sunday night and might have to rotate the squad here as a result.

Toronto FC vs Montreal Impact: Key Points

Toronto FC’s last five: W/W/W/W/W

Montreal Impact’s last five: W/L/L/L/L

Key Stat: It’s been almost a year since Toronto FC lost a home game during the regular season. Their last defeat came in October last year, when DC United picked up a 2-1 victory at BMO Field.

Key Player: Sebastian Giovinco – The Atomic Ant was rested for the weekend trip to LA but he should be back and ready to attack Montreal on Wednesday. He has played more games against Montreal than against any other team in his career, scoring eight in 14 against them.

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Toronto FC vs Montreal Impact: Prediction

Toronto FC 3-0 Montreal Impact – The fact is, Toronto FC are the best side in MLS right now. They are riding a six-game win streak and haven’t lost for two-and-a-half months. Montreal, on the other hand, have lost four-straight games and look to be in trouble. Their playoff hopes are fading fast and defeat here would leave them up against it. But with such a contrast in form between these rivals, it’s tough to see anything other than a convincing home win.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Atlanta United vs LA Galaxy

Major League Soccer: Atlanta United vs LA Galaxy

Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Wednesday, September 20 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)

Match Odds: Atlanta 4/9 – Draw 15/4 – LA Galaxy 5/1

Atlanta United vs LA Galaxy: Preview

Atlanta United take on LA Galaxy for the first time ever on Wednesday night, in a game that could essentially end the Galaxy’s 2017 season.

The Five Stripes are in good form and have enjoyed a stellar debut season in Major League Soccer. They can move a step closer to confirming their playoff spot with a win here, while probably ending the Galaxy’s hopes in the process.

Atlanta have gone unbeaten through four games, scoring 15 goals in the process. Their move to the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium has proved seamless too. They’ve not lost at their new home and Wednesday’s match will be the fourth of six consecutive home games.

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Victory on Wednesday would see Atlanta move ahead of Columbus Crew and into fourth place in the East. That would leave them on course to secure homefield advantage in the playoffs – something Tata Martino will be hoping to confirm.

The LA Galaxy team held a behind-closed-doors meeting after Saturday’s heavy defeat. That only happens when a team is in crisis. And make no mistake about it, the Galaxy are in a crisis. Jobs are on the line and players will be axed at the end of the campaign if they don’t improve.

Sigi Schmid’s job was to turn their fortunes around and get them into a playoff position come the end of the regular season. But he has not been able to do that, even with the expensive DP addition of Jonathan Dos Santos.

LA have gone 1-5-2 since Schmid took over the reigns. They are nine points outside the playoff spots in the West and don’t look like a team on the up.

Defeat to Atlanta on Wednesday night would essentially end the Galaxy’s season. It would leave them with a nine-point gap to make up over their final five games. But they still have to travel to Sporting KC, Houston and FC Dallas on the final day.

Atlanta United vs LA Galaxy: Team News

Atlanta United will welcome back centre-back Leandro Gonzalez Pirez after he served his one-game suspension. Zach Loyd is out for the season. Greg Garza is listed as questionable after missing Saturday’s match with a hamstring problem.

LA Galaxy will once again be able to call on Jermaine Jones after he served his suspension. He will expect to come into a side that could be drastically changed after Saturday’s crushing loss to Toronto. Robbie Rogers, Sebastian Lletget, Baggio Husidic and Pele Van Aanholt are all out for the season. Bradley Diallo left Sunday’s game in the first half with a hamstring injury and won’t feature here. Daniel Steres is also expected to miss out.

Atlanta United vs LA Galaxy: Key Points

Atlanta United’s last five: L/D/W/W/D

LA Galaxy’s last five: L/L/W/D/L

Key Stat: Atlanta have scored 13 goals in three games since moving to Mercedes-Benz Stadium. That’s the same amount as LA Galaxy have scored in their last 12 MLS outings in total.

Key Player: Josef Martinez – The Venezuelan striker is hot right now. He has scored back-to-back hat-tricks for Atlanta and has seven in his last three games. His treble against Orlando on Saturday took his season total to 16 in 14 matches. He’s only three goals off David Villa in the race for the Golden Boot and will hope to close that gap further with another strong display here.

Atlanta United vs LA Galaxy: Prediction

Atlanta United 3-1 LA Galaxy – The Galaxy need to respond from Saturday’s humiliating 4-0 home loss. However, they couldn’t have really picked a worse place to have to go than Atlanta. The Five Stripes have been scoring for fun and should pick apart a Galaxy defence that can’t stop conceding. You would assume LA will show some spirit as they aim to impress Sigi Schmid enough to keep their jobs into next season. But this one looks like it should end in a home win, with Atlanta set to move up to fourth in the East.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers

Major League Soccer: Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers

Rio Tinto Stadium – Saturday, September 16 – 21:30 ET (02:30 BST)

Match Odds: Real Salt Lake 19/20 – Draw 13/5 – Portland 5/2

Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers: Preview

Real Salt Lake host Portland Timbers on Saturday night in what is a big game at a crucial stage of the season for both clubs. RSL come into the weekend looking to keep their hopes of a top-six finish alive. While Portland will be hoping to stay joint-top of the West with Vancouver beyond the weekend.

The hosts come into the game off the back of last weekend’s 3-2 loss at Vancouver. The result moved the Whitecaps ahead of Portland at the top of the West and ended RSL’s two-game win streak.

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The good news for Real Salt Lake and Mike Petke is that they are returning home this weekend. They have one two-straight game in front of their own fans, beating San Jose 4-0 and Colorado 4-1. If they can get a third-straight home win on Saturday, there’s a good chance they’ll move into the top six.

However, Portland arrive in good form after beating New York City FC 1-0 at Yankee Stadium last weekend. That result stretcher their unbeaten run to four, with the Timbers picking up 10 points from 12 in that time.

Caleb Porter’s side endured a tough summer but they’ve bounced back over the past couple of months and are now looking poised for a strong playoff run. They will be hoping to secure a top-two finish to earn a first-round bye.

Saturday’s game will be the 19th MLS clash between Portland and Real Salt Lake. The Timbers have only lost one of their last nine games against RSL. However, that defeat took place earlier this season when Real Salt Lake picked up a 4-1 win after Portland received two red cards in the second half.

Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers: Team News

Real Salt Lake have four players ruled out through injury. Chad Barrett, Jordan Allen, Omar Holness and Ricardo Velazco are all sidelined. Demar Phillips and Marcelo Silva are doubts with hamstring problems. Chris Schuler and Sunny are one booking away from suspension and will need to be careful.

Portland Timbers will be without combative midfielder Diego Chara as he has picked up a suspension as a result of yellow card accumulation. Sebastian Blanco is one booking away from suspension.

Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers: Key Points

Real Salt Lake’s last five: W/L/W/W/L

Portland Timbers’ last five: L/W/W/D/W

Key Stat: Real Salt Lake are unbeaten in five consecutive home games in MLS and have scored four goals in their last two at Rio Tinto.

Key Player: Diego Valeri – The Portland Timbers playmaker is enjoying a phenomenal campaign. He has scored in seven consecutive games and is a genuine MVP candidate. He will set an MLS record if he nets for an eighth-straight game on Saturday. But he will need to end an 11-game drought against RSL to do so.

Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers: Prediction

Real Salt Lake 2-2 Portland Timbers – Goals are to be expected on Saturday in what should be an open game. Real Salt Lake know they must avoid defeat to keep their playoff hopes alive at this pivotal stage of the season. For Portland, it’s about maintaining their strong form as the playoffs edge closer. They are still in the race for the lead at the top of the Western Conference too and so both will be out for all three points. However, that could lead to the two sides cancelling each other out. Last season’s clash at Rio Tinto ended 2-2 and we expect the same scoreline here.