Kick Off your Winning Streak with sharp MLS Picks on this Week’s Playoffs
After a hectic start to the MLS playoffs, we have had a couple of weeks for the final 4 teams left in the hunt for MLS Cup rest and recuperate. Those teams get back into action on Tuesday night, November 21, in the first legs of both the Eastern and Western Conference Finals. We are on a collision course for a repeat of the MLS Cup Final from last year, but the Columbus Crew and Houston Dynamo will hope to have something to say about that, as they look to knock off Toronto FC and the reigning champion Seattle Sounders. Let’s take a closer look at how these two games might play out and come up with some solid MLS Picks.
— Toronto FC (@torontofc) November 20, 2017
Eastern Conference – Columbus Crew vs. Toronto FC
Date/Time: November 21, 2017, 8:00 PM ET
The Columbus Crew are the dark horses of the playoffs, and they might just be a team of destiny. This is a franchise that is in a state of upheaval right now, as their owner has made it clear that he wants out of Columbus, with a move to Austin, Texas a distinct possibility. Fans of the Crew, as well as many neutrals, have jumped on board the campaign to keep the Crew in Columbus, and this team has responded accordingly.
They started the playoffs by going into Atlanta and taking out United in a one-off game. They then followed that up by a total demolition of New York City FC, which now has them on a collision course with the best team in the league. If the Crew are to spring the upset, they will need to lean heavily on the services of Federico Higuain.
Toronto FC is considered by many to be the best team ever to take the field in the MLS. They ran away with the Supporter’s Shield, but all the praise and silverware will mean nothing if they don’t win the MLS Cup, especially after losing at home in the final last season.
Leg 1 of the Eastern Final is likely to be a cagey affair, as they are going into the game without two of their best-attacking players: Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco. I don’t expect Toronto to be much of an attacking force here, and they will likely be out in search of a 0-0 tie to take home when they will have those players back from suspension.
The Crew is 8-3-4 all-time against Toronto at home, and I think they may be able to sneak a surprise victory against a weakened Toronto FC.
Columbus Crew 1 Toronto FC 0
Western Conference – Houston Dynamo vs. Seattle Sounders
Date/Time: November 21, 2017, 9:30 PM ET
The Houston Dynamo are also something of a surprise package, as few people expected them to get past the Portland Timbers in the last round, especially after tying in the first leg of that one. Houston can count themselves a little fortunate to have moved on from the last round.
The opening game of the series in Houston was played on an awful field, and it ended with a trio of Timbers players hobbling off injured. Portland was seriously understaffed for the second leg, but credit still needs to go to the Dynamo for picking up the 2-1 win in a very tough place to win. Houston has not lost at home all year, so they may be the favorites for this one.
The Seattle Sounders come into this game as the defending MLS Cup champions, and they got here by making rather easy work for the Vancouver Whitecaps. They got the job done on the road in that one with a 0-0 tie, before heading back to Seattle and coming away with a 2-0 win. This is a team with a lot of legitimate stars on the roster, but this is also a team that goes as Clint Dempsey does. If he is at his antagonizing, goal-scoring best, then the Sounders need to be considered the favorites to move on.
The Sounders have never won in Houston, going 0-4-4 in their 8 visits there, so asking them to win this one may be a tall order. Houston will be looking to go back to Seattle with a lead, and I think they will do so, but I also believe that the Sounders might sneak a valuable away goal.
Houston Dynamo 2 Seattle Sounders 1
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