IT’S the final weekend of regular season action from the MLS and Will Dyer (@W2Dyer) talks us through the occasion whilst selecting his best bets.
For the first time in MLS history the regular season’s closure will see all 20 teams play on the same day. MLS are labelling this ‘Decision Day’ and, luckily for us in the UK, kick-offs are at the convenient times of 9pm and 11pm; it looks a fabulous decision by the league.
There are plenty of positions yet to be decided including seven teams that still don’t know for certain whether they will qualify for the MLS Play-Offs or not. So, if you’re not doing anything Sunday night then this is the place to be!
I’ll just briefly explain a few of the scenarios from this weekend’s games. In the East, the winner of Columbus Crew v DC United will clinch a bye to the MLS Play-Off semi-finals. Toronto can also gain that berth with a win over Montreal and a draw between Crew and DC.
Montreal can finish as high as third if results go their way and they beat Toronto at home. Orlando can snatch a place from New England but they have to win and hope New England lose and they make up the goal difference in the process.
New York Red Bulls will win the Supporter’s Shield taking that away from the hands of Dallas if they beat Chicago. Their superior goal difference means any level points finish with Dallas in the West will give them the regular season trophy.
Over in the West; LA will claim the automatic berth in that Conference if they beat Sporting Kansas City. Vancouver and Portland can still technically be caught if all the teams below them win and one of them loses, but it seems unlikely. Instead the Whitecaps and Timbers can still both take the Bye seeding if results go their way.
Seattle will qualify if they beat Real Salt Lake or other teams lose or draw. Sporting KC will qualify if they beat LA or if they draw and Seattle or San Jose lose. This gets really confusing now; if they lose to LA then they also need San Jose to lose to Dallas.
The Earthquakes themselves need to win or draw at Dallas and hope others above them lose or draw; their superior goal difference would get them through in those instances. NYCFC, Philly, Fire, Dynamo, RSL and the Rapids are all already out.
Philadelphia Union v Orlando City | Sunday 21.00
Goal difference is the name of the game here. Orlando City need to win and hope New England lose and they make up eight goals on them in the process. It’s unlikely but I think it provides a good betting opportunity.
Orlando have won five in a row, scoring 13 and conceding just five. I’m hugely impressed with them.
At the same time, Philly have had a horrid back end to the season losing the US Open Cup final on penalties and losing their last two games by an aggregate score of 7-2. They knew they weren’t making the Play-Offs three weeks ago.
Orlando have been one of the better away sides in the Eastern Conference this season and look to have put that poor run of heavy road defeats behind them with a win in Chicago and an incredible 5-2 win at the Red Bull Arena.
All things considered I can’t believe that the Lions are the outsiders for this match and with them needing to find a bunch of goals, I’m backing them to put The U to the sword. Cyle Larin is in devastating form and even though just a smidgen of the post-season is in sight I think they’ll be right up for this.
Orlando City to score 3+ Goals is 5/1 with Skybet.
Columbus Crew v DC United | Sunday 22.00 | Sky Sports 2
DC have failed to score in half of their 16 away games so far this season. A total of just nine goals away is really shoddy; that’s seven less goals on the road than any other team in MLS and tells you that their home form is crucial.
The Black And Red rifled in four against Chicago last weekend but Fire are comfortably the worst team in Major League Soccer for my money so it shouldn’t be anything to get too concerned about for Crew.
Columbus’ last 10 league games read W6-D1-L3 whilst DC’s is a paltry W3-D2-L5. That certainly tells you whose playing the better stuff right now.
There are stats that conflict each other here; DC might have scored just nine goals away from home but 11 of Crew’s 14 wins this season have seen both sides score. That makes it tricky to choose between Win To Nil and Win & BTTS, so I’ll opt for the home win alone at 19/20 (William Hill).
Crew have the added bonus of a certain Kei Kamara searching for goals to beat Sebastian Giovinco to the golden boot. Both players are level on 22 goals.
Montreal Impact v Toronto FC | Sunday 22.00 | Sky Sports Interactive
Montreal have won four on the bounce at the Stade Saputo, scoring a total of 11 goals and two or more in each. At the same time Toronto have lost four in a row away and have conceded two or more in all of their last seven road games; conceding a total of 21 goals in that stretch.
That pretty much sums up the Reds defence, their 56 conceded is the joint worst in MLS and it’s a wonder that they’ve qualified for the Play-Offs so comfortably with it.
Montreal have looked sensational with Ignacio Piatti and Didier Drogba linking up well and are coming off the back of consecutive away wins. I favour them here.
The best way to get with Impact looks to be backing them to continue the trends for their goals scored at home and Toronto’s goals conceded away. We can back Montreal to score Over 1.5 goals at 17/20 with William Hill. Shop around as this market is sometimes described differently.
FC Dallas v San Jose Earthquakes | Sunday 23.00 | Sky Sports Interactive
I quite like San Jose. They are a decent team and they’re pretty consistent which is great for betting purposes. Their last nine away games read W3-D0-L6 compared to FCD’s impressive W10-D1-L1 at home since mid-April.
If you go back earlier than that you also find that Dallas have already beaten the Earthquakes 1-0 in Texas this season and held them to a goalless draw in California back in June. They certainly have the measure of them.
This game is of huge importance to both teams. San Jose must get a result or they are out of the post-season but Dallas can also win the Supporter’s Shield if they win and New York Red Bulls fail to beat Chicago Fire.
I can see the Fire upsetting NYRB on their own patch so this makes Dallas winning the trophy a big possibility. The fact that these games will be playing at the same time also helps as fans and the manager will likely be receiving updates on that game and can therefore spur the Texans on.
Dallas look nicely priced for the win (17/20 BetVictor). Of course this is a highly volatile game but their home record this season is up there with LA Galaxy’s and if Los Angeles were hosting this match I suspect they’d be as short as 4/9.
Seattle Sounders v Real Salt Lake | Sunday 23.00
Similar to the Portland v Colorado game this a team that could do with a result to assure Play-Off qualification playing a team that’s got nothing but pride to play for.
Some people would perhaps favour the team with nothing to play for in this situation because the pressure’s off but I don’t see it that way. Sounders have plenty of experienced players that should be able to handle that pressure, step up Obafemi Martins.
Oba has scored in six of Seattle’s last seven MLS games. He now has 15 goals for the season and considering he missed a good chunk through injury that’s another very good haul. Interestingly as well he has scored in all of Seattle’s last three meetings with RSL at CenturyLink Field.
Expect a packed out stadium with Sounders fans in party mode. Seattle have plenty to play for knowing that they haven’t qualified just yet and that also if they win and a few results go their way they could get a handy seeding.
I do expect the hosts to win this but 4/9 is not a working man’s price. However, Real have leaked a whopping 31 goals in 16 away games so far, by far the worst away defensive record in the Western Conference, and Martins’ current form is intimidating. He looks too big at 6/5 with Betfair to notch anytime.
Philadelphia Union v Orlando City – Orlando City to score 3+ Goals (5/1 Skybet)
Columbus Crew v DC United – Columbus Crew to win (19/20 William Hill)
Montreal Impact v Toronto FC – Montreal Impact to score Over 1.5 goals (17/20 William Hill)
FC Dallas v San Jose Earthquakes – FC Dallas to win (17/20 Betvictor)
Seattle Sounders v Real Salt Lake – Obafemi Martins to score anytime (6/5 Betfair)
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