DC United v Montreal Impact | Sunday 8th November 2020, 20:30
This Sunday night/Monday morning (UK time) we see the Major League Soccer regulation season come to a close before the excitement of the play-offs gets going. There are still matters to be decided to determine who will be a part of those, and to see who will get those all-important home ties, too.
The Supporters Shield is to be decided as well between Philadelphia Union and Toronto FC, we our first of two MLS recommendations revolves around two clubs in the play-off picture.
DC United are at home this weekend and there are both good and bad circumstances surrounding their game this weekend.
Firstly, they know that they must win this game if they are indeed to gate-crash the play-off picture. The bad news is that although they’d definitely leapfrog opponents Montreal Impact, they’d still be relying on results elsewhere going for them. That being said, Chicago Fire and Atlanta United both have very difficult games, although Inter Miami should beat FC Cincinnati. DC win, and they’d need to better at least two of those others – I think!
Still, they can do all they need to win from their perspective and that is to win this home game. If recent form is anything to go by then they have every chance of doing so. Certainly the key for them was firing long-serving boss Ben Olsen, who had been in the job for no less than ten years.
However, things had become stale and they were languishing at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. His departure has led to a sudden upturn in form, as they’ve now lost just once in five, that coming last time out when going down 4-3 in a thriller at New England Revolution.
Three of those five were away, and despite their home form on paper looking pretty bad, they’ve only lost five of their last 13 here. They beat Columbus Crew in their last home game, their first home win since March, so they at least got that monkey off their back.
Montreal Impact are the visitors to Audi Field on Sunday on ‘Decision Day’ and they currently possess one of those lucrative play-off positions. The reality is that they could win, lose or draw this game and still be in the play-offs, there are many different scenarios which could play out. Win, and they’re definitely in the lottery. A draw would likely be OK, whilst a defeat would worry them.
Although Thierry Henry is their manager, they haven’t necessarily been playing in the mould of their manager. They’ve won only two of their last 12, of which nine ended in defeat. If they do make the play-offs, they’ve been incredibly lucky. More was expected of them because of Henry, and the fact they have the likes of Victor Wanyama and Bojan on their roster. Bojan, the former Barcelona and Stoke man, has come into his own in recent times, but only has three MLS goals this season, so is hardly prolific.
The key for this game to me is that DC United are on the up. Letting Olsen go and Chad Ashton have a go after previously being assistant has done the tricky. It often does in the short-term and we’re still very much in that sort of timeframe. They need to win, and I think they’ll play in that manner. An early goal would help, but Montreal could have issues managing this game, plus I have major doubts about them defensively. They have the worst defensive record in the Eastern Conference.
5/4 (William Hill) on a DC United win looks the best way to go.
Seattle Sounders v San Jose Earthquakes | Sunday 8th November 2020, 23:30
Our second trip to Major League Soccer this weekend comes in the smattering of later kick-odds on ‘Decision Day’ when old-timers Seattle Sounders take on San Jose Earthquakes.
This is generally the time of the season where the Sounders go from strength to strength, and they’ve going in search of a fourth MLS Cup to back up their trophies from 2016, 2017 and 2019. The reigning holders also remain in with a shot of finishing in the number one seed, which would give them home advantage throughout the play-offs.
That would be huge considering how strong they are at home, with or without fans. It does get complicated at it will eventually be decided on a points-per-game basis as several matches in this Conference have been postponed due to Covid-19 cases over the last number of weeks. Still, one of Seattle, Portland Timbers or Sporting Kansas City will finish 1st.
A win this weekend therefore is pretty important for Seattle as they look to finish 1st on their own merit. This game will be their third in a week after having trips to Colorado and LA which resulted in only one point in total.
Head Coach Brian Schmetzer therefore has been rotating his squad to the best of his capabilities in that period, just to allow freshness for this game and the play-offs. They can at least approach this game with some freedom knowing a play-off spot is confirmed, but they’d love top spot.
San Jose Earthquakes make the trip to CenturyLink Field safe in the knowledge that they too have a play-off berth secured. That is good going considering their form has been incredibly up-and-down across the campaign but losing just two of their last nine means they’ve hit form at just the right time. They too had a midweek game, like Seattle, and they would impressively beat LAFC 3-2 at home.
However, they played the last half hour with ten men, so this weekend tiredness could be an issue and they’ll also be without suspended key man Jackson Yueill. They have a bad record when he doesn’t play. In fact, the last game he missed was when Seattle hammered San Jose 7-1 a few months ago!
You’re always wary of the home and away records in the MLS and the Earthquakes are just one of those teams you can’t totally trust on the road. Sure, they’ve won at LAFC and LA Galaxy recently, but their last six away losses read 2-1, 3-0, 5-0, 7-1, 5-1 and 3-2. Whey they lose away, it tends to be heavy. Only four times since the start of September 2019 have they failed to score in an MLS away game, however.
Seattle aren’t bulletproof defensively, either. They’ve kept only three home clean sheets this season, and have just one of their last eight at home, although five did end in victory. The reality is this is a more important game for Seattle, with San Jose likely to rest a couple for the play-offs, I imagine.
Seattle Win and Both Teams To Score is priced at 17/10 (William Hill) and rates as the most likely call in what should be an entertaining affair.
DC United v Montreal Impact – DC United (5/4 William Hill)
Seattle Sounders v San Jose Earthquakes – Seattle Win and Both Teams To Score (17/10 William Hill)