Written by Geoff Jameson•
2019 MLS Cup Play Offs: Previews And Odds
Revs Looking For Shock Upset In Season Opener Against De Boer And Martinez In Atlanta
Atlanta United FC are one of the heaviest hitting sides in the division, and have enjoyed another relatively successful year in the MLS under the guidance of Dutch legend and former Ajax, Inter Milan and Crystal Palace manager Frank De Boer. They boast the largest stadium in the division, are the current MLS Cup champions and the exporting of talents such as Miguel Almirion to Newcastle showcases just how talented a roster De Boer has at his disposal.
Josep Martinez has become infamous both inside and out of the States for his trademark penalty technique and powerful finishing, whilst Brad Guzan remains one of only two goalkeepers to reach fourteen shutouts over the season. Atlanta currently sit at 10/1 odds to retain their MLS Cup title this year.
New England Revolution are certainly no pushovers however. After parting company with manager Brad Friedel with the side bottom of the division, the team had a resurgence under current head coach Bruce Arena. The side chained together an unbeaten run between May 11th and July 27th (a run of 11 games and included 7 wins) and snuck into the Play Offs by just four points.
In this season’s Eastern Conference Play Off curtain-raiser, you can find odds for an Atlanta home win at 5/11 (-220). New England Revs are way, way outsiders at 11/2 (+550), with a tie sitting at 4/1 (+400).
Seattle Sounders And FC Dallas Could Be The Upset To Root For
This year’s first Western Conference matchup sees second placed Seattle Sounders take on seventh placed FC Dallas in a match that could be tougher to predict than people might initially think. Whilst the Sounders look good on paper heading into this matchup, finishing in second place by three points ahead of Real Salt Lake, they finished the regular season with a 16-8-10 record and were a whopping sixteen points behind league leaders LAFC.
FC Dallas could prove to be a real thorn in the side of the Sounders, quietly going about their business and working well within their means throughout the whole season. Whilst their 54 goals across the season looks quite weak next to LAFC’s 85, they actually outscored their rivals in this game who only managed 52. In defence, FC Dallas also outperformed their Seattle rivals; the Sounders conceded 49 goals across the season, whereas Dallas only conceded 46. For the Sounders, their imperious home form is going to be vital to them surviving a scare here.
Make no mistake, this game could be much closer than the MLS table will have you believe, even if FC Dallas are rank outsiders for the match. You can get a Seattle Sounders home win at 4 /5 (-125) whereas an away Dallas win stands at 10/3 (+333). A tie is currently priced at 3/1 (+300).
Rooney Looks To Bow Out Of MLS In Style Against Toronto
DC United’s MVP last season and England’s most prolific goal scorer will bow out of the MLS in January following an approach from Derby County earlier this year. Leading from the front as captain of the side, Wayne Rooney’s thirteen goals and eight assists were instrumental in firing the team to the Play Offs with a fifth place finish in the Eastern Conference.
Their opponents for this match, Canadian outfit Toronto FC, finished the season one place ahead of DC but were completely locked on the same amount of final points. With both sides finishing the season on 50 points, Toronto secured their home advantage against DC thanks to their superior goal difference of 5, in comparison to DC’s 4.
The stakes couldn’t be higher, and the balance between the two sides is absolutely impossible to call following their performances in the regular season. However, surprising to us, you can get a Toronto home win at 5/9 (-180), a DC away win at 5/1 (+500) and a tie at 10/3 (+333). A tie and a penalty loss was the undoing of DC last season, can they do one better this year?
Real Salt Lake The Favourites In Their Home Game Against An Off Form Portland Timbers
Portland’s very own Timbers have been one of the MLS’ absolute premier sides in recent times, winning their very first MLS Cup in 2015. More success followed in 2017 when they won the Western Conference for the second time in their short history. They continued to impress last season, defeating archrivals Seattle Sounders in the Play Off semifinals before falling to heartbreaking loss against Atlanta in the final. Whilst wins haven’t been quite so easy to come by for the Timbers this season, they still find themselves in the Play Offs again and with every chance of finding more silverware.
On the flip side, Real Salt Lake’s season has been far more consistent. A run of four losses across March and April was the only blip for the side as they romped to 16 wins and a solid third place finish. Despite their impressive league form, it should be said that two of Real Salt Lake’s thirteen losses this season came from Portland, with the Timbers winning both home and away in May and August.
You can currently get a home Real Salt Lake win at 107/100 (+107), an away Portland Timbers win at 12/5 (+240) and price a tie between the sides at 45/16 (+281).
Can New York’s Red Side Step It Up Against Philadelphia?
It’s been a hard season to take if you’re a fan of all things red in New York. Not only did your cross-city rivals absolutely romp to first place in the Eastern Conference table, but you’ve found your side positively limping to a sixth place finish in the table after a great season the year before, claiming the Supporter’s Shield in 2018. Thanks massively to captain Daniel Royer’s eleven goals and four assists, New York Red Bulls still somehow find themselves in with a shout of progressing further in this year’s MLS Cup, though they are certainly up against it.
In their way is a rejuvenated Philadelphia Union. With an eighth place Conference finish in 2017 and a sixth place finish in 2018, Union have continued their impressive steady rise up the rankings with a highly respectable third place finish this year. Polish striker Kacper Przybyłko has impressed all season, netting fifteen league goals, whilst defenders Jack Elliott, Kai Wagner and Matthew Real have helped mould an imperious defence.
Philadelphia Union are currently priced at 11/12 (-109) for a home win, New York Red Bulls are outsiders at 14/5 (+280), with a tie coming in at 3/1 (+300).
Minnesota Look Set To Spoils Galaxy’s Season
Playing their first full season at Allianz Field, Minnesota FC were one of the surprise packages of the 2019 MLS year. Having finished in ninth place in the Western Conference for the previous two seasons, head coach Adrian Heath has overseen one of the more remarkable stories of the season as the side head into the Play Offs with a 15-8-11 record.
They face off against arguably the star-studded face of the MLS: La Galaxy. The most successful side in MLS history, LA Galaxy began the 2019 season in good form before slumping to a bad run of results in May. Thanks to King Zlatan’s thirty goals however, the team found enough form to finish the season in fifth place on the Western Conference and setting up what looks to be a great match against Minnesota.
You can get odds of 101/100 (+101) on Minnesota triumphing at home, an away Galaxy win are at 237/100 (+237) and a tie comes in at 37/13 (+285).