Dave Farrar predicts Toronto to upset Atlanta's apple-cart, more Wayne Rooney magic and one final NYCFC stumble against Philly.
“Atlanta have been fading in recent weeks, at just the wrong point of the season, and I think that they’re vulnerable as the defending MLS Cup champions say goodbye to a terrible 2018 season.”
Toronto's last laugh
Toronto FC v Atlanta United
So it's Decision Day in MLS, although for the third season in succession, there's not a great deal to decide. There'll be jockeying for play-off position, two play-off places up for grabs, and also a Supporters Shield to be won.
With the New York Red Bulls very likely to beat Orlando in New Jersey, Atlanta United know that they have to go to Toronto and get a victory to be sure of winning the Supporters Shield and establishing themselves as the new points record holders for a single MLS season.
Atlanta, though, have been fading in recent weeks, at just the wrong point of the season, and I think that they're vulnerable as the defending MLS Cup champions say goodbye to a terrible 2018 season.
Toronto will be fired up for this, to prove that they can be relevant one final time, and with Atlanta stuttering against a poor Chicago side last week, and prone to nerves, I think that Gerardo Martino's team will struggle at BMO Field. The absence of Miguel Almiron is a huge blow, and there are off field tensions too, encapsulated by reports of Martino's likely departure at the end of the season.
For TFC, the season has been a write off, as they never recovered from their early Champions League involvement, but they're still dangerous, especially at home, even though they have lost their last three. I'll trust Greg Vanney's men to be fired up and good enough to outscore Atlanta, opening the door for the Red Bulls.
Rooney-powered DCU to extend winning run
Chicago Fire v DC United
I was wrong to oppose the Wayne Rooney-inspired DC United against NYCFC last weekend, overrating a rested NYCFC and certainly underestimating DCU. Their incredible run can be capped on the final weekend of the regular season as they head for Chicago and I fancy them to finish the campaign with a victory.
Chicago have had an underwhelming season and were out of play-off contention some time ago. They played pretty well against an uninspiring Atlanta last week, and even though they deserve credit for that, their run of only two wins since the end of June in MLS counts heavily against them.
DCU have now won six of their last seven and five in a row, and are riding the crest of a wave. Whether they can take this momentum into the post season is quite another issue, but they certainly have enough gas in the tank to win this, and give themselves a chance of finishing third in the Eastern Conference, as that final table takes shape on what should be an entertaining evening.
Unmotivated NYCFC to lose again
NYCFC v Philadelphia Union
I gave a refreshed NYCFC a real chance of winning at DC United last time, but they turned in another abject display, which suggests that the Dome Torrent era at Yankee Stadium is not going to be a successful one.
NYCFC know that they're still at serious risk of dropping to fifth in the Eastern Conference should they lose to Philadelphia on Decision Day, and the nerves may just get to them, with the Union able to play almost pressure free. Jim Curtin's men know that a win would be a massive boost, but a draw is unlikely to help them too much in the shake up, and so they may as well go for it.
The Union have already beaten NYCFC at home, and for a team that historically struggles on their travels, they've managed to pick up some good road results this season, winning at both Seattle and DC United of late, and looking solid and confident in doing so.
NYCFC have now won only once since August 12, and have been seriously disappointing since the departure of Patrick Vieira. They look like a team that is going through the motions, and that won't be enough against a motivated Philly.
Staked: 93 points
Returned: 114.39 points
P/L +21.39 points
Lay Atlanta United @ Toronto FC @ [1.9]
Back DC United to beat Chicago Fire @ [2.7]
Lay NYCFC v Philadelphia Union @ [1.9]