MLS Playoffs Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs New York City FC

2017 MLS Cup Playoffs – Eastern Conference Semifinal (1st Leg): Columbus Crew vs New York City FC

MAPFRE Stadium – Tuesday, October 1 – 20:00 ET (00:00 BST)

Match Odds: Columbus Crew 21/20 – Draw 5/2  – NYCFC 9/4

Columbus Crew vs New York City FC: Preview

Columbus Crew welcome New York City FC to MAPFRE Stadium for what promises to be a thrilling Eastern Conference Semifinal showdown. One of these sides is 180 minutes away from a place in the Conference Final. The other will be sent packing.

Few people believed Columbus would make it to this stage. They travelled to Atlanta as underdogs for their Knockout Round clash last Thursday. But they prevailed on penalties after a dramatic 120 minutes of action, in which the woodwork was hit three times in total.

The Crew are riding high. They’ve not lost in 11 and have won six of their last seven at home. This will be the first game at MAPFRE Stadium since the news of a possible relocation to Austin surfaced a couple of weeks ago. So expect an emotional atmosphere for Tuesday’s clash.

NYCFC have had over a week to prepare for this game. They rounded off the regular season with a 2-2 draw against the Crew at Citi Field. They come into the playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the East, but they cannot take Columbus for granted.

New York City FC’s recent form will concern Patrick Vieira. They only won one of their last seven regular season outings and don’t come into the playoffs in the highest of spirits.

However, they knew for a long while that they’d be playing postseason soccer. And they need their stars to shine at this stage. Particularly after last year’s humiliating playoff exit to Toronto.

Another boost for the visitors could be that they picked up their first ever away win at Columbus earlier in the campaign. That 3-2 win back in April was then followed by that 2-2 draw at Citi Field on Decision Day.

Columbus Crew vs New York City FC: Team News

Gregg Berhalter is unlikely to make any changes to the starting XI from the win in Atlanta. They did go 120 minutes but they’ve had four days to recover and should be fresh to go here. Alex Crognale, Gaston Sauro and Ben Swanson are all ruled out.

New York City FC have just two players ruled out as they begin their playoff campaign. Miguel Camargo and Maxime Chanot remain sidelined and won’t play again this year.

Columbus Crew vs New York City FC: Key Points

Columbus Crew’s last five: W/W/W/D/W

NYCFC’s last five: D/W/D/L/D

Key Stat: There have been 32 goals in the seven previous meetings between the two sides. That’s an average of 4.5 per game. Neither side has ever kept a clean sheet against the other.

Key Player: Zach Steffen – The Crew’s penalty shootout hero from Thursday night comes into the game in great form. He also saved David Villa’s stoppage time penalty in the 2-2 draw against NYCFC last week. So if he can keep his form up, the visitors might struggle to break through.

Columbus Crew vs New York City FC: Prediction

Columbus Crew 3-1 New York City FC – Making a football prediction for a game as big as this is always difficult. But it’s impossible to see the Crew’s fine form ending in Tuesday’s first leg. NYCFC know they have to keep the tie as close as possible and might set up for a draw ahead of the return leg. But Columbus have attacking weapons that will be looking to hurt them. An early goal could blow the game wide open, and we’re expecting goals. But the Crew look set to edge it, given their impressive hot streak.

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MLS Playoffs Preview and Prediction: Houston Dynamo vs Sporting Kansas City

2017 MLS Cup Playoffs: Houston Dynamo vs Sporting Kansas City

BBVA Compass Stadium – Thursday, October 26 – 21:30 ET (02:30 BST)

Match Odds: Houston 23/20 – Draw 9/4 – Sporting KC 23/10

Houston Dynamo vs Sporting Kansas City: Preview

Houston Dynamo take on Sporting Kansas City for the third time in two weeks on Thursday night. But this time, it’s in the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs. This has all the makings of a classic Knockout Round clash, but only one side can make it through to the Western Conference semifinals.

The Dynamo leapfrogged SKC on Decision Day and earned home-field advantage for Thursday’s game as a result. They come into the playoffs in good form and are favourites to advance.

Houston have improved drastically from a year ago. They are unbeaten in six games – drawing at SKC and beating them 2-1 at home in that time – and only lost once at home during the regular season.

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They rounded off the regular season with a 3-0 home win over Chicago Fire. That result sets them up perfectly, but they did lose two players to injury. AJ DeLaGarza has been ruled out the playoffs but Romell Quioto could return for Thursday’s game, but his status isn’t yet known.

Sporting Kansas City will have to try and get the job done without Tim Melia. The goalkeeper has probably been their best player this season but hasn’t played in almost a month as a result of a hamstring injury.

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The visitors don’t have any kind of promising form to take into this game. They haven’t won in five and only picked up two roads wins all season. Peter Vermes’ men need to put in one hell of a performance if they’re to make the Conference Semifinals.

As mentioned, this will be the third meeting between the two sides in two weeks. Sporting KC won at Houston in the US Open Cup back in June on the way to their win in the competition. But they failed to win either of the two regular season clashes.

Houston Dynamo vs Sporting Kansas City: Team News

Houston will hope Romell Quioto is passed fit to play after leaving Sunday’s game with an injury. AJ DeLaGarza will miss the playoffs after tearing his ACL. George Malki and Memo Rodriguez remain sidelined, while Philippe Senderos is listed as ‘questionable’.

Sporting KC will be without Tim Melia once again. That means Andrew Dykstra will start in goal. Cameron Porter is the only other injury absence for the visitors

Houston Dynamo vs Sporting Kansas City: Key Points

Houston Dynamo’s last five: D/W/W/D/W

Sporting Kansas City’s last five: L/D/L/D/L

Key Stat: Houston are unbeaten in eight regular season games against Sporting KC. They’ve won four and drawn four of those games, outscoring them 16-10.

Key Player: Romell Quioto – Houston will be desperate for the Honduran attacker to be fit. They’ve averaged 0.4 more points-per-game with him, than without him. If he plays, they’ll be the threat they have been so often this season.

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Houston Dynamo vs Sporting Kansas City: Prediction

Houston Dynamo 2-0 Sporting Kansas City – Form might not matter as much as usual during knockout football. But in the case of Thursday’s game, it’s hard to see how Sporting Kansas City can turn their fortunes around. They haven’t looked good in recent weeks. They’ve failed to beat Houston home or away. And they are struggling for goals. The Dynamo are strong at home and are riding high. They should make it through to the Conference Semifinals without too much trouble.

MLS Playoffs Preview and Prediction: Vancouver Whitecaps vs San Jose Earthquakes

2017 MLS Cup Playoffs – Knockout Round: Vancouver Whitecaps vs San Jose Earthquakes

BC Place – Wednesday, October 25 – 22:30 ET (03:30 BST)

Match Odds: Vancouver 3/4 – Draw 13/5 – San Jose 100/30

Vancouver Whitecaps vs San Jose Earthquakes: Preview

The 2017 MLS Playoffs are here. In one of four midweek knockout games, Vancouver Whitecaps welcome San Jose Earthquakes to BC Place in a winner-takes-all clash.

The Whitecaps had a strong regular season and finishing third gives them the home advantage. This gives their fans reason to have faith ahead of the tie, as they are undefeated in their last seven home games.

While Vancouver’s run in to the end of the season saw them win just twice in five games they don’t have too much to worry about. As we all know, recent form means little in knockout competition and be assured, Carl Robinson will have his side fired up and ready to go.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs San Jose Earthquakes: The Whitecaps faithful will be hoping to see celebrations like this on Wednesday night.

San Jose Earthquakes have reached the postseason for the first time since 2012 in what was a dramatic Decision Day. They conceded the most goals of any side to reach the Playoffs, which is a slight concern for them. However, it’s now all about focusing on how they can advance on Wednesday evening.

While The Quakes have failed to win nine of their last ten on the road, they have every right to feel they can advance. Their recent form against Vancouver has been very strong, which has seen them go unbeaten in the last five meetings.

The most recent meeting between the sides was arguably San Jose’s most important result of the season. Their draw in Vancouver a couple of weeks ago kept their playoff hopes alive. And they showed just how relentless they can be, securing their place in postseason action with an injury time winner over Minnesota. This has the makings of a classic.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs San Jose Earthquakes: Team News

The Whitecaps are expecting to be without two, David Edgar and Matias Laba remain out.

The visitors have four injury concerns heading into this one. Harold Cummings, Marvell Wynne, Fatai Alashe are all expected to remain out, while there are doubts over Nick Lima.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs San Jose Earthquakes: Key Points

Vancouver’s last five: L/W/L/D/L

San Jose’s last five: L/L/W/D/W

Key Stat: San Jose Earthquakes’ goal differential of -21 is the worst of any playoff team in MLS history. They’re underdogs, but as the final round of the regular season showed, they’re more than capable of getting the result they need.

Key Player: Chris Wondolowski – Much will be expected of Wondo, who was named MLS player of the week, from the Quakes faithful here. His contribution in their final four regular season games was enormous – scoring twice and assisting three. Many will expect Vancouver to progress, but San Jose are more than capable of making it through to the next stage, especially if Wondolowski is on song.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs San Jose Earthquakes: Prediction

Vancouver Whitecaps 3-2 San Jose Earthquakes – This is going to be anything but an easy ride for Vancouver Whitecaps. San Jose have proven their capabilities of causing their opposition headaches and their performances to reach the playoffs for the first time in five years will give them that added lift. However, like the vast majority, we are expecting the home side to be in the next round. It would be a major shock if they weren’t.

MLS Playoffs Preview and Prediction: Chicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls

2017 MLS Cup Playoffs – Knockout Round: Chicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls

Toyota Park – Wednesday, October 25 – 20:30 ET (01:30 BST)

Match Odds: Chicago Fire 21/10 – Draw 5/2 – NY Red Bulls 23/10

Chicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls: Preview

The 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs are here. It all kicks off with the Chicago Fire hosting the New York Red Bulls in the first of four midweek Knockout Round games.

Both teams have reason for optimism heading into Wednesday’s game but only one side will remain in the playoffs come the end of play. This is expected to be the tightest of the four Knockout Round games, as the below projections highlight.

Chicago Fire deserve enormous praise for even reaching the postseason, let alone earning home-field advantage. They haven’t played a postseason game since 2012 and so you can expect a special atmosphere at Toyota Park.

Most the focus in the build-up to the game will be on Dax McCarty. The midfielder joined the Fire from the Red Bulls before the start of the campaign and will now be looking to get past his former side for a place in the Conference Semifinals.

Embed from Getty ImagesThey have the 2017 Golden Boot winner in Nemanja Nikolic. The Serbian striker netted 24 goals and played every single regular season game in his debut season. A strong showing in the playoffs would give the Fire a great chance at success.

The worry for the home side is that their form has been anything but solid heading into the playoffs. They’ve posted a 3-2-1 record over their last six and lost 3-0 at Houston on the final day of the regular season. But their strong home form still makes them narrow favourites here.

The New York Red Bulls had been stuck in sixth place for what seemed like an eternity. They didn’t lock down a playoff spot as soon as they’d have hoped. But challenges from rivals faded and they’ve been able to prepare for the postseason for a couple of weeks.

Embed from Getty ImagesJesse Marsch’s men ended the regular season with a 2-1 win at DC United. They have only lost one of their last five and will arrive at Chicago looking to keep it tight and hit them on the break.

These two sides met twice during the regular season. The Red Bulls won 2-1 at Red Bull Arena early on in the season, before they drew 1-1 at Toyota Park in early September.

Chicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls: Team News

The big question mark heading into Wednesday’s game is the fitness of Bastian Schweinsteiger. He hasn’t started a game in almost two months but is officially listed as ‘questionable’. The Fire will definitely be without Jorge Bava, John Goossens, Daniel Johnson, Christian Dean and Michael De Leeuw.

The Red Bulls have four players ruled out for Wednesday’s game. Gideon Baah, Mike Grella, Connor Lade and Aurelien Collin are all sidelined through injury.

Chicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls: Key Points

Chicago Fire’s last five: L/W/D/W/L

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

Key Stat: Chicago only lost two of their 17 home games during the regular season. They outscored their opponents 44-14 in that time.

Key Player: Dax McCarty – The combative midfielder will be the centre of attention on Wednesday night. His job will be to disrupt his former teammate Sacha Kljestan from controlling the game. If he succeeds, it’s more than likely that Chicago will advance.

Embed from Getty ImagesChicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls: Prediction

Chicago Fire 1-2* (AET) New York Red Bulls – This should be the closest of all four Knockout Round games. The Fire are a force at home and will be relishing the prospect of a playoff game for the first time in five years. But the Red Bulls are experienced at this level and know how to get the job done. This looks poised to go beyond 90 minutes but we see the Red Bulls as the more likely to advance, with this one looking like it could go all the to penalties.

Western Conference Predictions: MLS Week 32 – Vancouver looking to win conference as playoff race heats up

Western Conference Predictions: MLS Week 32 – The playoff race in the Western Conference is set to go down to the wire. The Vancouver Whitecaps lead Sporting Kansas City by three points heading into what should be an action-packed Week 32. Ten of the eleven Western Conference sides play each other, while Portland host DC United in the only inter-conference matchup of the weekend.

All of this week’s games involving sides from the West will kickoff at the same time on Sunday night at 19:30 ET (00:30 BST). So you can guarantee there will be drama as some teams look to nail down playoff berths, and others are fighting to keep their dreams alive. Read on for all of this weekend’s Western Conference predictions: MLS week 32 should be a good one…

Colorado Rapids 1-1 Real Salt Lake

This late-season Rocky Mountain Cup clash is a big deal. Real Salt Lake are still fighting to get into the playoffs with two games to go. But they must travel to the home of their fiercest rival in MLS. The Rapids’ playoffs hopes have been over for some time but they would love nothing more than to ruin RSL’s season on Sunday night. Real Salt Lake, though, have only lost one of their last six. A loss would likely spell the end to their season, depending on other results, so they must avoid defeat.

Sporting Kansas City 2-2 Houston Dynamo

These two meet for the second time in five days on Sunday. The Dynamo prevented SKC going joint-top of the West with Wednesday night’s 2-1 win at BBVA Compass Stadium. They gave their own playoffs hopes a huge boost with that win and will be looking to take at least one more point off of SKC here. Sporting KC haven’t yet secured a playoff berth, despite sitting second with two games to go. A victory would solve that issue, but the absence of goalkeeper Tim Melia could be significant.

LA Galaxy 2-3 Minnesota United

Few people would have thought LA Galaxy would be coming into the penultimate weekend of the season seven points behind Minnesota United. But the problems in LA this season have left them with a year to forget. They will want to avoid finishing dead last in the West and need to try and end the season on a high. But Minnesota are in fairly good form, having only lost one of their last five. They beat Atlanta United in their latest road trip and could add to LA’s misery on Sunday.

Seattle Sounders 2-1 FC Dallas

Both these sides come into the weekend in playoff spots, but know a defeat on Sunday could put them in real trouble. Seattle have two home games remaining. They sit fourth and could still finish the season with a Knockout Round bye. FC Dallas are in a much more precarious position. They are only a point above RSL and San Jose in the final playoff spot and can’t really afford to drop any points. Head coach Oscar Pareja has called this game “the season”, and he’s not wrong. But they aren’t in good form and have lost four-straight games at CenturyLink Field.

Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1 San Jose Earthquakes

The Whitecaps are the only Western Conference side to have sealed a playoff berth with 180 minutes of football to go. That’s quite incredible but also testament to their consistency this season. They can guarantee a Knockout Round bye with a home win agains San Jose on Sunday. But the visitors are fighting for their lives too. The Quakes beat Portland last time out to keep their top six hopes intact. But they still need to overtake RSL and Dallas to seal a playoff spot. Vancouver are a real force at home and should prove too much for San Jose.

Portland Timbers 3-0 DC United

Portland missed the chance to seal their playoff spot when they fell 2-1 at San Jose last time out. That result also saw them drop out of the top two. They do now have two home games to finish the season though and will expect to beat DC on Sunday. The Eastern Conference playoff race is over and DC United won’t be playing postseason football. They’ll still want to show some fight but the fact is they will finish bottom of the East after a poor season. Don’t expect them to spoil things in Portland.

MLS Playoffs Preview and Prediction: Toronto FC vs Montreal Impact

Competition: MLS Playoffs (Eastern Conference Final – Second Leg) Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact 

Venue: BMO Field – Wednesday, November 30 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)

Match Odds: Toronto FC 8/15 – Draw 3/1 – Montreal Impact 9/2

Match Preview

Toronto and Montreal Impact are set for a thrilling encounter on Wednesday night, with a place in the MLS Cup Final up for grabs as they lock horns in the Eastern Conference Championship second leg.

The winner of Tuesday’s game will face Seattle in the 2016 MLS Cup Final, where a first-time winner is guaranteed. If Toronto advance, they will host the final, but Seattle will play hosts if the Impact progress. 

Toronto come into the second leg 3-2 down after a nightmare hour to forget in the game in Montreal. The tie looked like it could have been out of their reach but Greg Vanney’s side showed why you cannot write them off as they scored twice in the last half hour to set up this incredible return clash.

Given the fightback from Toronto they now look favourites to advance, but there is still plenty of work to do here against a Montreal side who will be kicking themselves for letting such a vital lead go in front of their own fans.

Toronto have been impressive at BMO Field in 2016. They have won their last three home games but worryingly they did lose to Montreal the last time they welcomed them here. Nothing other than a victory will see Toronto advance to their first MLS Cup Final.

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Montreal Impact will be itching to ensure they do not miss out on the final now. They have improved year-on-year and reaching their first MLS Cup Final would be another part of their history that will never be forgotten.

Mauro Biello needs to make sure his side are calm from the get-go here. They still have that one-goal lead, so they need to play their normal game and shape up defensively against a strong Toronto attack.

There will be added emotion for the Impact squad as this could be the last time Didier Drogba plays, and while there have been some ups and downs in his short spell at the club, he will be missed. The Ivorian will want to sign off at the club in style, like he has done throughout his career, so losing this will not be an option for him and the rest of the squad.

Montreal’s task is far from simple and they know they cannot afford to allow Toronto time on the ball, so high-press is an option. Breaking up play and countering will make Impact dangerous and difficult to deal with. They will be out to grab a couple of away goals, as Toronto did at the Olympic Stadium last weekend.

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Team News

Vanney has a completely fit squad for this tie. He will be expecting maximum effort from his starting XI to ensure they make it through and pull off an impressive comeback.

Andres Romero remains Montreal’s only injury concern. Biello will be unlikely to unsettled the balance of his squad too much going into this one, but there may well be some defensive changes in an attempt to tighten up that backline.

Key Points

Toronto FC’s last five: W/W/W/W/L

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

Key Stat: Form – Toronto have won their last three home matches.

Key Player: Sebastian Giovinco – The stage is set for Giovinco to show his class once again. If he is presented with even a sniff at goal he is likely to find the back of the net. Toronto need him now more than ever if they’re to make the final.

Photo: Toronto FC

Photo: Toronto FC

Score Prediction

Toronto FC 2-0 Montreal Impact – Toronto to make the most of their firepower and pick apart the Montreal defence on home soil. It will be a sour end to the season for Montreal if they are to exit the playoffs here considering the commanding position they were in and it will be some turnaround if Toronto can pull it off.

MLS Playoff Preview and Prediction: Colorado Rapids vs Seattle Sounders

Competition: MLS Cup Playoffs: Western Conference Final (Second Leg) – Colorado Rapids vs Seattle Sounders

Venue: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park – Sunday, November 27 – 16:00 ET (21:00 GMT) 

Match Odds: Colorado 1/1 – Draw 9/4 – Seattle 13/5

Match Preview

Colorado Rapids welcome Seattle Sounders in the second leg of the Western Conference Final on Sunday, with a place in the MLS Cup Final up for grabs.

The Sounders take a narrow 2-1 lead into the second leg at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park after they came from a goal down to win in the first clash.

The Rapids have an away goal but still need to go out and win this game if they are to make a first MLS Cup Final in six years.

Seattle Sounders vs Colorado Rapids - MacMath Save

They’ve had an excellent season, regardless, but it would still be disappointing for the home fans if they crash out at the final hurdle here.

Colorado are in poor form coming into Sunday’s game, but they are unbeaten at home in 12 games, including the 1-0 win over LA in the Conference Semifinal – a game they ended up winning on penalties.

Seattle travel to Colorado as the league’s in-form team and showed their resilience with an impressive comeback win in the first leg.

Nicolas Lodeiro was the star man once again and he will need to be at his best here for the Sounders to cause the Rapids defence the same problems they did on Tuesday night.

Seattle Sounders vs Colorado Rapids - Nicolas Lodeiro

Seattle have lost their last two away games 2-1. A repeat scoreline here would take this game to extra-time – something that seems a real possibility given how little there is to choose between the two.

Getting an away goal will be the main aim for the Sounders, but they know they are going to need to defend from kickoff, with Colorado needing to attack.

Team News

Colorado will be without Tim Howard and Dillon Serna once again. Marlon Hairston will be pushing for a start after coming off the bench in last week’s first leg.

Clint Dempsey remains out for Seattle, along with Dylan Remick. Jordan Morris, Andreas Ivanschitz, Alvaro Fernandez and Roman Torres all came through knocks to play last week and should all be involved in the squad again here, with Ivanschitz pushing for a start in place of Erik Friberg.

Key Points

Colorado’s last five: L/D/L/W/L

Seattle’s last five: W/W/W/L/W

Key Stat: Colorado haven’t kept a clean sheet at home to Seattle for six years, only once keeping the Sounders out in nine clashes at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

Key Player: Jordan Morris – The Seattle forward has enjoyed an excellent first season in MLS and deservedly won the Rookie of the Year award. He will enjoy playing on the counter-attack in Colorado and proved his danger by scoring the equaliser last week.

Seattle Sounders vs Real Salt Lake - Jordan Morris

Score Prediction

Colorado Rapids 1-1 Seattle Sounders – This is sure to be a tense affair as things are so finely poised heading into the second leg. Colorado know they have to win this game if they are to have a chance of making the MLS Cup Final for the first time since 2010. However, the Sounders love to play on the break and have at least one goal in them here. A draw would see the visitors through and that’s how we see this one panning out.

MLS Playoffs Preview and Prediction: Seattle Sounders vs Colorado Rapids

Competition: MLS Playoffs (Western Conference Final – First Leg) Seattle Sounders vs. Colorado Rapids

Venue: CenturyLink Field – Tuesday, November 22 – 22:00 ET (03:00 GMT) 

Match Odds: Seattle 4/5 – Draw 23/10 – Colorado 7/2

Match Preview

Seattle Sounders take on Colorado Rapids in the first leg of the 2016 Western Conference Final, with both sides now two games away from a place in this year’s MLS Cup Final.

The Sounders have been in incredible form since August and look in a strong position to go all the way after winning seven of their last eight games at CenturyLink Field.

As the home side, the pressure is on Seattle to breakdown a strong Colorado defence. They might be missing Tim Howard, but the Sounders know they need to be at their absolute best if they are to take a strong lead into the second leg.

Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas - Sounders Celebrate

A 2-1 loss at Dallas last time out was disappointing, but Seattle advanced easily because of their 3-0 win in the home leg a week before. A similar plan will be in place for this clash.

Colorado edged past LA Galaxy on penalties last time out but they have only scored two goals in their last four and are struggling for form at a pivotal stage of the season.

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They head to Seattle as underdogs and will be looking to remain tight at the back and try and hit the hosts on the counter. Avoiding a heavy loss will be crucial if they are to reach the MLS Cup Final in a month’s time.

These two sides met twice during the regular season with Colorado winning both games. They are looking for a fourth-straight win against the Sounders here. They have only met in the playoffs once before, with the Sounders eliminating the Rapids 2-0 in 2013.

Team News

Clint Dempsey remains out for the Sounders, who have a number of players that are in danger of missing the game. Jordan Morris, Andreas Ivanschitz, Alvaro Fernandez and Roman Torres are listed as questionable, while Dylan Remick is likely to miss out again with concussion.

Colorado have been rocked by the loss of Tim Howard, who has been ruled out for four months with a groin injury. Dillon Serna is also out, while Shkelzen Gashi is a doubt with an ankle problem.

Key Points

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

Colorado Rapid’s last five: W/L/D/L/W

Key Stat: Seattle have won their last five home playoff games, while Colorado have lost each of their last five road games in the playoffs, dating back ten years.

Key Player: Nicolas Lodeiro – The Sounders playmaker is one of the league’s most creative players and he’s proven his worth time and time again. If Seattle are going to win the first leg, they need Lodeiro at his best to carve open a resolute Colorado defence.

Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas - Nicolas Lodeiro

Score Prediction

Seattle Sounders 1-0 Colorado Rapids – The Sounders have had an incredible ride into the playoffs and their strong form should continue with another win here. They have kept back-to-back home clean sheets in the playoffs this season and look poised to keep another here, with the bigger challenge coming at the other end of the field. The Rapids are the best defensive team in the league and so Seattle will need to create something special to break them down. They should get at least one goal and take a narrow lead into the second leg.

MLS Playoffs Preview and Prediction: Montreal Impact vs Toronto FC

Competition: MLS Playoffs (Eastern Conference Final – First Leg) Montreal Impact vs. Toronto FC

Venue: Olympic Stadium – Tuesday, November 22nd – 20:00 ET (01:00 GMT)

Match Odds: Montreal Impact 11/8 – Draw 9/4 – Toronto FC 15/8

Match Preview

Montreal Impact welcome Toronto FC to Olympic Stadium on Tuesday evening in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Final, with a Canadian side guaranteed to make the MLS Cup Final for the first time ever.

This is a huge game for both of these rivals. Montreal have to make the most of home advantage and ensure they go into the second leg in a strong position, which will be easier said than done.

The Impact overcame the Red Bulls 3-1 on aggregate in the Conference Semifinal, a result that will have filled Mauro Biello’s squad with confidence.

This is the first time Montreal have reached the Eastern Conference Championship game so there is the added incentive to make even more history and reach the MLS Cup Final now.

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Toronto FC are also creating history. Before this year they had never won a playoff game. Greg Vanney’s side advanced to the Eastern Conference Championship they after completely destroyed NYCFC 7-0 on aggregate, a result that will never be forgotten.

While the squad will still be flying high off the back of that result, their attention must turn to making sure they go into the second leg after a positive performance away at Montreal on Tuesday.

Toronto fans will be praying their side avenges their elimination from the 2015 playoffs last season by Montreal and they are favourites to advance over the two legs.

If recent history is anything to go by for Toronto they stand a good chance of a favourable result here, as they are unbeaten in their last three visits to Stade Saputo in all competitions, drawing twice and winning one.

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Team News

Andres Romero remains out for Montreal Impact, while both Didier Drogba and Matteo Mancosu are both doubts to start. Drogba, though, is back in the picture after a month out.

Vanney has the pleasure of picking his side from a near fully fit squad as Steven Beitashour is his only injury concern ahead of the first leg.

Key Points

Montreal Impact’s form: D/L/W/W/W

Toronto FC’s form: D/W/W/W/W

Key Stat: Toronto FC have scored at least two goals in their last five MLS away games.

Key Player: Ignacio Piatti – The Montreal playmaker will be expected to provide and help his side take a lead into the second leg. This is going to be an extremely tough tie to win over both legs for Montreal, so they have to be in a strong position come the end of the first 90 minutes and Piatti will look to provide some magic once again.

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Score Prediction

Montreal Impact 1-1 Toronto FC – This is going to be a tight affair, neither side is going to want to give the other an advantage heading into the second leg, but a draw is a more favourable result for Toronto than Montreal, who will be desperate to win this one.

MLS Playoffs Preview and Prediction: New York Red Bulls vs Montreal Impact

Competition: MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinal (Second-Leg) – New York Red Bulls vs Montreal Impact

Venue: Red Bull Arena – Sunday, November 5 – 16:00 ET (21:00 GMT) 

Match Odds: NY Red Bulls 8/15 – Draw 3/1 – Montreal 9/2

Match Preview

New York Red Bulls welcome the Montreal Impact to Red Bull Arena for the second leg of their Eastern Conference Semifinal showdown on Sunday evening. The Impact lead 1-0 from last Sunday’s first leg but know they have a lot to do if they are to advance to the Conference Finals.

The pressure is on the Red Bulls here. They failed to score in an MLS game for the first time since July in last weekend’s defeat but know they have more than enough quality to win this game.

Jesse Marsch guided his side to the top of the Eastern Conference over the course of the regular season and they will expect to live up to their billing as top seed in the East with a victory here.

MLS: New York Red Bulls vs. Columbus Crew - Red Bulls Celebrate

They have an incredibly strong home record but need to make sure they don’t chase the result too quickly here, as the Impact will set up to hit them on the counter in the hope of scoring some valuable away goals.

Montreal enter the game knowing they need to avoid defeat by more than one goal to stand a strong chance of advancing on Sunday night. A draw would be enough to see them through and so they may set up to defend deep and try and frustrate the Red Bulls here.

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They played well last Sunday and if they can repeat that performance here, they will have a Conference Final to prepare for.

The Red Bulls beat Montreal in both of their regular season clashes at Red Bull Arena this season and remarkably have still have never lost at home to the Impact in any competition (W7 D1).

Team News

The Red Bulls remain without Gideon Baah and Connor Lade for Sunday’s game but Jesse Marsch isn’t expected to make too many changes, if any, from last week’s first-leg loss. Gonzalo Veron is pushing for a start after coming off the bench last Sunday.

Montreal have two injuries of their own, with Andres Romero and Didier Drogba both sidelined. Drogba hasn’t played for a month but Matteo Mancosu has been deputising well, scoring the only goal last weekend following a brace against DC on the final day of the regular season. Mauro Biello isn’t expected to make any changes for the second leg.

Key Points

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

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

Key Stat: New York Red Bulls have not lost a home game in seven months. They are currently unbeaten in 17 home games in all competitions, and enter Sunday’s game off the back of four-straight victories at Red Bull Arena.

Key Player: Bradley Wright-Phillips – The 2016 Golden Boot winner had scored in three consecutive games before last week’s 1-0 loss in the first leg. But he always tends to play better at home and has scored three in his last two at Red Bull Arena. The home side will look to BWP for inspiration in such a crucial fixture.

MLS: New York Red Bulls vs. Columbus Crew - Bradley Wright-Phillips and Dax McCarty

Score Prediction

New York Red Bulls 3-1 Montreal Impact – Goals are expected in Sunday’s second-leg clash, but the pressure is on the hosts to deliver as the top seed in the East. The Red Bulls are a real force at home and should be able to win this match. The issue will be whether or not they can keep a clean-sheet, as any away goals scored by Montreal could be the deciding factor here. Ultimately, we expect the Red Bulls to advance in what should be an excellent game.