FOUR MLS play-off matches back-to-back on Sunday night and our outstanding Stateside advisor Will Dyer (@w2Dyer) is on the case, analysing each fixture and sharing his best bets.
New York Red Bulls v DC United | Sunday 20.00 | Sky Sports 5
Well I’ve mentioned I’m not that keen on the recent Supporter’s Shield winners to go all the way in the MLS Cup but they are lucky enough to have the easiest of opponent’s left.
DC United put up a bit of a fight in the first leg but more defensively than anything threatening on New York’s goal. The Black and Red couldn’t even muster a shot-on-target at home – abysmal.
These sides met at Red Bull Arena earlier in the season and NYRB made light work of their visitors in a 3-0 win. In fact, DC have lost all of their last five visits to New Jersey, the last four without even scoring a goal.
So, New York Red Bulls to win at a price of 1/2 is hardly surprising, but there is a way of getting with the hosts. I believe New York will want to put this tie to bed early on and they’ve been very quick out the traps all season. Eleven of their 12 home wins in 2015 have been W-W results in the Half-Time/Full-Time market, which is a wonderful stat.
DC lost 10 of their 17 away games, six of those being L-L results and their nine goals scored in those 17 games was the worst haul of any Major League Soccer team. Up against the top scorers in the competition I expect them to be blown away. Of course there is an argument that a draw would do for New York but I’m not buying that.
The first leg was quite stop start and Red Bulls toiled in front of goal for a while but up popped Dax McCarthy in the second-half. They have that winning mentality, especially at home and with DC United also holding injury concerns over Davy Arnaud, Sean Franklin, Chris Pontius and Michael Farfan they look up against it big time.
The W-W double result can be backed at 5/4 with Betfair.
Columbus Crew v Montreal Impact | Sunday 22.00 | Sky Sports 5
Montreal Impact have been a delight to watch in the last few months since Didier Drogba’s arrival and the promotion of Mauro Biello from assistant to head coach. They came back to beat Columbus Crew 2-1 in the first leg to make it three consecutive wins over Crew since early June.
Impact’s recent form reads W9-D2-L2 but at MAPFRE Stadium they will be hard pushed to keep that run going. A draw will suffice for the French Canadians and that’s putting me off backing them in this tough fixture.
Columbus to win at just 11/10 is not a price I would even contemplate considering the fragility of their defence. The Black and Yellow have the worst defensive record left in the play-offs and have kept just one clean sheet in their last 15 at home. It is therefore no surprise to see both teams to score chalked up at just 4/7.
The bet for me here is Montreal to score exactly one goal. They have done just that in nine of their last 12 road MLS games and I think 0-1, 1-1, and 2-1 are all quite likely score-lines. If Impact score first they will have a two-goal lead on aggregate so may well attempt to slow the game down and considering they have a pretty impressive defence that could work out well.
Montreal failing to score seems highly unlikely given Crew’s defensive record but equally away sides really struggle for results in MLS so two or more seems a bit ambitious. All things considered I think odds of 8/5 from Coral on Montreal to score exactly one goal are pretty generous.
FC Dallas v Seattle Sounders | Monday 00.30 | Sky Sports 5
I won’t pretend to have watched the first leg of this tie but I have seen both teams play on a few occassions this season. Obafemi Martins seems to have turned more provider than finisher in the last few weeks and that would worry me if I were a Sounders fan.
Of course, Clint Dempsey is more than capable of scoring frequently at this level but he is not so much a striker as Martins is and so I feel Seattle are creating less clear cut chances than usual. This is all fine when playing at home but at the Toyota Stadium they will likely be second best, playing deeper and will need Martins to be making runs beyond the Dallas backline if they want to win the game.
Fabian Castillo opened the scoring in the first leg, living up to his title of the ‘most exciting youngster in MLS’ but, just like the game in Montreal, the hosts came back to win 2-1.
Victor Ulloa of FCD made the most passes in the game at CenturyLink Field and Castillo had the most attempts on goal. If those stats flow over into this tie I’m very confident Dallas will win the game.
The Texans have won an incredible 11 of their last 13 home league games. Red Bulls and LA Galaxy the only teams to leave with points in that period. Seattle haven’t visited since March, they did avoid defeat with a 0-0 draw but that doesn’t tell the whole story. They were dire, failing to have a shot-on-target despite Dallas having 10 men for over 70 minutes.
As previously mentioned, analysis of Seattle’s season statistics should be taken with a pinch of salt due to the long term absences of Oba and Deuce. That said, they only scored 18 goals in 17 away games and lost nine of those matches. They also have a good few questions over the health of Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Leonardo Gonzalez and Marco Pappa; some of their key players.
Dallas are a much more fluent team than Seattle. Goals based bets look alright here at around 7/10 for Both Teams To Score but I prefer the price on the hosts to record yet another home victory (19/20 Bet365). This one may well be going to extra-time.
Vancouver Whitecaps v Portland Timbers | Sunday 04.00 | Sky Sports 5
The first leg of this one played out just how I expected it. Low on clear-cut opportunities with a lot of possession turning over in midfield. The stand out player for me was Darlington Nagbe who continues his good spell of performances. He attempted 79 passes on the night showing just how central he is to Timbers’ chances.
That 0-0 result made it three meetings in a row at Providence Park drawn and all going Under 2.5 Goals but prior to those games the sides met in Vancouver with the final score 2-1 to the Whitecaps. With the tie finely balanced I won’t be looking at goals bets.
Portland were marginally the better side in the first leg and with the Whitecaps holding just a W9-D2-L6 record at BC Place this season I think Portland can get something and 11/10 for the hosts to win does them a bit of an injustice.
Timbers have lost just three of their last 14 games and won four of their last five on the road; including a remarkable 5-2 win at the StubHub Center. LA literally never get thrashed there so that’s good form. Their regular season away record of W7-D2-L8 was bettered only by Vancouver themselves and we saw how Whitecaps struggled to impose that in the first leg.
Fanendo Adi is in good form. He got his tally to 16 for the season whilst the Canadians top scorer was Octavio Rivero on just 10 goals. That lack of a consistent scorer has had a big impact lately with the Whitecaps failing to score in four of their last five games.
Pedro Morales is a doubt with a hamstring strain too and he would be a big miss. I know I said about backing home teams in this competition but Vancouver are the worst home side left. Portland double chance looks a big price to me at 5/6 with Bet365.
New York Red Bulls v DC United – New York Red Bulls HT/FT (5/4 Betfair)
Columbus Crew v Montreal Impact – Montreal Impact to score exactly one goal (8/5 Coral)
FC Dallas v Seattle Sounders – FC Dallas to win (19/20 Bet365)
Vancouver Whitecaps v Portland Timbers – Portland Timbers double chance (5/6 Bet365)
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