IT’S Conference Finals weekend and Will Dyer (@w2Dyer) is eyeing up some value bets.
Columbus Crew v New York Red Bulls | Sunday 22:00 | Sky Sports 1
Welcome to the Conference Championship games. Each Conference has two teams left and those teams will fight it out over two legs for a place in the MLS Cup Final.
First up is Columbus Crew who overcame a 2-1 1st leg deficit against the impressive Montreal Impact last time out. It took them extra-time to do so and they were under a lot of pressure from the Canadians but all credit to them for perfecting their game around Kei Kamara.
This will be the 59th league meeting between these two clubs since the Red Bulls joined Major League Soccer in 1998. 28 of those games went the way of the hosts and 33 saw both teams score.
Special Kei now has 24 MLS goals this season. His heading ability is second to none in this league and you feel he will be central to Crew’s chances. It is paramount that the Black and Gold take a first leg lead to the Red Bull Arena. I think for that reason we can expect a good game. These are the two top scoring regular season teams. Kamara hasn’t scored against NYRB yet so I’m reluctant to back him to score against New York though 6/4 looks a very good price.
Crew attempted far more crosses than any other team in the regular season, 115 more than anyone else in fact and 27% of them found a man in the box, only FC Dallas converted more. Watch out for a Kei Kamara header.
First legs are notoriously low scoring in most competitions but this fixture doesn’t look the type to follow that trend. Had this been a regular season game I expect Both Teams To Score would have been 4/9 but instead it is best priced at 4/6 here. That’s too short for me to tip really so I’ve gone for something a little more speculative.
Prior to their clean sheet against DC United on Decision Day, Crew hadn’t kept a clean sheet in 13 consecutive home games. It seems almost inevitable that New York will score but as I’ve mentioned in previous previews, Red Bulls have shown significant weaknesses and complacency in many games of late.
I think we could be in for an early goal in this game. It’s a sell out so hopefully the atmosphere will be raucous and with poachers like Bradley Wright Phillips and Kamara about Both Teams To Score in the first half appeals at 7/2 with Skybet.
BTTS in the first half is a bet that’s won in five of Crew’s last 10 home games including when New York Red Bulls themselves visited MAPFRE stadium back in July. The selection would also have won in the most recent meeting between these teams at the Red Bull Arena early last month; it looks a big price to me.
Portland Timbers v FC Dallas | Monday 00:30 | Sky Sports 1
The article on Portland’s homepage pretty much sums them up; ‘Nat Borchers beard and its playoff importance’! That’s not to say they don’t take their football seriously but they are a quirky team.
Portland completely shut out Vancouver over two legs in the Conference Semi Finals but in truth it was a Whitecaps team that had been goal shy for a few weeks already. Still, there’s no denying that Portland have a strong defence. Portland’s 13 conceded in 17 home regular season games was an MLS best this year.
Inspired substitutions from Oscar Pareja got Dallas through against Seattle, a much tougher opponent than Vancouver in my opinion. The Texans though have been at their strongest at home all season. A trip to Providence Park could probably draw a more defensive approach than usual.
Dallas have an abundance of creative South American players that exploit the freedom to express themselves at the Toyota Stadium but on their travels they are a different team. Their last 14 away league games have seen them post a W3 D3 L8 record and they’ve already lost 3-1 in Portland once this season.
An interesting stat for me is the fact that when Dallas have conceded away from home they’ve usually lost this season. They avoided defeat in nine of 17 away games this season, six of those nine games saw them keep a clean sheet. Whereas in the 13 away matches that they conceded a goal in this year they lost 10 of those games.
It seems then that much of this match comes down to whether or not Timbers find the back of the net. I think they will. Dallas’ home form is too strong for them to afford not to go hell for leather to take a lead into the 2nd leg and with Darlington Nagbe and Fanendo Adi performing very well lately they must be pretty confident.
Dallas have a W0 D2 L4 record in Portland and I believe we will see them lose here but overturn that back in Texas, just like the previous round. 6/5 with BetVictor though is not a price that’s worth backing. Instead it’s another goals based bet for me.
11 of Portland’s 17 home games this season saw Both Teams To Score bets fail and 10 of Dallas’ 17 away games followed that trend too. Portland are a very organised team and should keep this tight. The value seems to be on Both Teams To Score ‘No’ at Even money with Paddy Power.
Colombus Crew v New York Red Bulls – Both Teams To Score in the First Half (7/2 Skybet)
Portland Timbers v FC Dallas – Both Teams To Score ‘No’ (Evens Paddy Power)
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