MLS expert Luke Beaumont (@_LukeBeaumont) gives his thoughts on Sunday night's Stateside action.
Toronto v New York City | Sunday 12th August 2018, 21:00 | Sky Sports
Two weeks ago, Toronto FC Head Coach, Greg Vanney, said his side needed nine wins from their remaining 14 games to have a chance of reaching the playoffs. They now have 12 left following a win over Chicago Fire and a draw in Atlanta last weekend – don’t write them off.
The reigning champions currently sit six points outside of the playoffs, but a win over third-place NYCFC would be a big statement. Toronto have had a torrid couple of months, but back-to-back wins over Chicago Fire and a positive result against league-leaders Atlanta might be enough to start a late run to the playoffs.
NYCFC are notoriously a much better side at home than they are on the road. They've loved playing at Yankee Stadium this year, where they are still yet to lose. However, away from home, they are on a run of just one win from eight. Last time out, they were beaten 3-1 by a rejuvenated, playoff-chasing Seattle Sounders.
I fancy Toronto to claim three points from this fixture and finally establish themselves in the Eastern Conference playoff race, despite having been written off by many, including myself earlier in the year. At a price above evens, they represent serious value.
DC United v Orlando City | Sunday 12th August, 21:00 | Sky Sports
DC United will take on an Orlando City side who are in what can only be described as a horrendous run. The Lions have lost a staggering 12 of their last 14 games in Major League Soccer, and they haven’t claimed three points on the road since April…
United have 12 home games left and as many as five games in hand on those above them. They still have a chance of reaching the playoffs, and it’s the home fixtures they will have to make count. On paper, the Orlando meeting looks a certain three points and it could be an exhibition match for Wayne Rooney and co.
Orlando City have severe vulnerabilities at the back and this will create an opportunity for Rooney to thrive. He has already scored his first goal for DC United, but he has yet to put in a performance that gets the whole league talking. This is his opportunity to do so and I believe he will take advantage of a weak Orlando City backline and lead his teammates to victory.