MLS Play-Offs begin on Thursday night. Will Dyer (@w2Dyer) takes a look at the opening two games.
DC United v New England Revolution | Thursday 00:30 | Sky Sports 2
A classic Eastern Conference rivalry is renewed here. It’s nine years since these two met in the post-season, two of the three previous encounters going to DC.
United have a history of success in the MLS Cup but haven’t experienced that since 2004. They hold four titles overall but most of those came in the early days.
New England Revolution, trust me to support them, have appeared in five MLS Cup finals and not won a single one including last year’s 2-1 defeat to LA Galaxy; but, it must be remembered that game was played at the StubHub Center, LA were a better team back then, in my opinion, and they were on a mission in Landon Donovan’s last ever game.
I’m not backing New England to win the MLS Cup and their Cup Final record is part of the reason but I do see it as a positive that this team navigated their way to the final last season.
DC United have a W4 D2 L2 record against the Top 12 at home this season whilst Rev’s away record against those opponents is a horrid W1 D0 L8 scoring just eight goals in the process. DC have also won five of their last six games against NE at RFK Memorial but I have plenty of doubts over their ability at the minute.
It would be fair to say that DC United have an ageing team. The average age of their likely line-up is 27.7 compared to New England’s 25.9. They lack intensity at times and have been gifting possession to their opponents all season.
New England have one of the most exciting attacking line-ups in the league. The creativity and technical ability of players like Diego Fagundez and Lee Nguyen far out-shines their DC opposite numbers in my view.
10 of DC’s last 11 MLS home games went Over 2.5 and nine of New England’s last 10 away MLS games also obliged so it is a surprise to see the Over 2.5 goal line set as high as 21/20 with Betvictor. BTTS stats are similarly strong with 10 of DC’s last 12 home games and 10 of Rev’s last 14 away also banking.
As you might have guessed I rate New England higher. The 5-0 collapse of Ben Olsen’s men to Crew at the weekend shows how DC are playing at the minute. What’s more embarrassing is that heavy defeat also came with Crew without the joint top-scorer in MLS; Kei Kamara.
There is a conflict over historical trends and current form here but I am going to go with the visitors. Their 3-1 win at the Yankee Stadium on Decision Day could be a nice catalyst. I’m going to combine that with the healthy goals trends to give us a tasty 10/3 shot.
Seattle Sounders v LA Galaxy | Thursday 03:00 | Sky Sports 2
I wish I didn’t have to work on Thursday morning as I’d love to stay up and watch this one. It’s always one of the most anticipated fixtures in MLS and with another 60,000+ crowd expected it’s not hard to see why. The result of this match though is a no brainer for me…
It’s nice to see money coming for LA Galaxy here. They are the big name but they have no right to be best priced at 11/5 to win at CenturyLink Field against a Sounders team that’s unbeaten in eight games home and away.
Seattle recorded a W11 D2 L4 in regular season home games this year. These sides met at the beginning of the month in a match which ended 1-1. Seattle had 66% of possession and I expect them to get a similar amount but do more with it this time.
Sounders won the Supporter’s Shield last season winning 20 of 34 games; three more than any other team. I believe they might have reached those heights again this term without the absence of key players Brad Evans, Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey.
Clint won the golden boot at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, a competition which burnt him out for a couple months and with his strike partner also side-lined Seattle had to turn to veteran Chad Barrett for a good while. Since the return of Oba and Deuce though they have been imperious and it was good to see Dempsey bag a brace on Decision Day.
LA Galaxy on the other hand have been weak lately, a 2-1 loss at Sporting Park at the weekend plunged them down to fifth place and an unfavourable seeding.
The Galaxy have a horrendous away record that only Dynamo and Fire can worsen this season. It’s just two wins in their last 19 away games. Steven Gerrard has come under criticism and it looks like his inclusion in central midfield doesn’t work for the team.
Galaxy have won just one of their last nine competitive games which includes matches against CONCACAF Champions League teams that they were expected to cruise past. They have a W1 D2 L6 record in Washington State since 2012 and those home routs of the summer seem a distant past. Seattle to win looks overpriced at 13/10 Betvictor.
DC United v New England Revolution – New England Revolution to win and Over 2.5 Goals (100/30 Paddy Power)
Los Angeles Galaxy v Seattle Sounders – Seattle Sounders to win (13/10 BetVictor)