MLS Conference Semi-Final Betting: Columbus can shock odds-on Red Bulls

Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez and New York City FC defender Anton Tinnerholm
Josef Martinez and Anton Tinnerholm should guarantee more goals in the second leg in Atlanta

Dave Farrar previews the semi-final second legs, predicting entertainment as Atlanta host NYCFC, Real Salt Lake's run to end in Kansas and another Columbus Day in New York...

“With NYCFC likely to throw everything at them, Atlanta won’t win ugly again, and their need to entertain their home fans will more than likely see them take a risk or two.”

Atlanta the great entertainers

Atlanta United v NYCFC
Sunday, 22:30
Live on Sky Sports Football

Atlanta United will feel that they have the job just about done as they host NYCFC, defending a 1-0 lead from the away leg.

Atalanta were prepared to win ugly in that first game, and that's a version of them that we rarely see, but an interesting weapon for them to have as they continue their quest for what would be a remarkable MLS Cup in just their second season of existence.

Atlanta rightly start as favourites here, but I wouldn't write off NYCFC, and am tempted to support them at [2.6] with a goal start on the Asian Handicap. They were a little unfortunate in that first leg, and have the quality to quieten down the Mercedes Benz Stadium.

Overall, though, I just about favour the home side, but I do think that there'll be goals in this second leg. With NYCFC likely to throw everything at them, Atlanta won't win ugly again, and their need to entertain their home fans will more than likely see them take a risk or two.

I see something very similar to the 2-2 draw that the two sides played out in April. With the home team doing just enough to make the Conference Final, but not without a scare or two along the way.

Real Salt Lake hit the skids

Sporting KC v RSL
Sunday, 20:00
Live on Sky Sports Football

Sporting KC beat Real Salt Lake to win the 2013 MLS Cup, but since then, their record has left a lot to be desired, winning just one of 13 games against them. This time could be different, though, as the two teams go head to head for the right to face Portland in the Western Conference Final.

How on earth Portland got past Seattle is still a surprise to me, but it would be a bigger shock if RSL were to beat Sporting KC. The first leg finished 1-1, and surely Mike Petke's RSL needed some kind of advantage to bring to Children's Mercy Park.

The visitors will be without Albert Rusnak, who's probably their most influential player, and with SKC so strong at home, this will be tough for RSL, and they'll need to do more than simply ride the wave of emotion which has taken them this far.

The logical thing to do here is to look at a strong SKC team, look at their home record, and realise that they're unbeaten in six here and have conceded just three times in that spell. With Petke having lost his most creative player, RSL are going to struggle to score, and I can see SKC winning in all departments. They're worth supporting with the concession of a goal on the Asian Handicap.

Back Sporting KC -1 on Asian Handicap @ [1.9]

Columbus undefeated in New York

New York Red Bulls v Columbus Crew
Monday, 00:30
Live on Sky Sports Football

Only two teams have managed to come to Red Bull Arena and win this season, and Columbus Crew are one of them. They bring a 1-0 first leg lead to the Supporters Shield winners as they look to continue their unlikely progression through the post season.

The Crew are on a real play off roll, having edged out DC United and then nicked the first leg against the Red Bulls, and they will believe that they can come to Red Bull Arena and find a way to the Conference Final.

The Crew are the kind of team that you want to have on your side, and while there's a danger that this is a game too far for them, I'm going to back them to put the Red Bulls out of the play offs for the fourth time. I appreciate that a 2-1 Red Bulls win puts Columbus through, but I think that Gregg Berhalter's team will do better than that, and so will recommend a lay of the Red Bulls at around [1.8]

P/L 2018 Post Season

Staked: 8 Points
Returned: 8.2 Points
P/L: + 0.2 points

P/L 2018 Regular Season

Staked: 96 points
Returned: 116.49 points
P/L +20.49 points

Dave Farrar,

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