Dave Farrar predicts FC Dallas will capitulate to Portland Timbers, NYCFC and DC United progress, but the only post season overs are in LA...
“They have MLS Cup winning experience from 2015, they have last season’s MVP in Diego Valeri, and they have an inner belief that I just don’t see in FC Dallas.”
After a relatively dramatic climax to the regular season on Sunday, when the New York Red Bulls snatched the Supporters Shield from Atlanta United, and the LA Galaxy crumbled in extraordinary fashion to allow Real Salt Lake to make the post season, we head for the Knockout Round of the MLS Play Offs, which will be swiftly followed at the weekend by the Conference Semi Finals.
Now is the time that you realise just how important finishing position in each Conference is to potential success in the Play Offs. The winners of each of these one-off Knockout Round games will be in action again at the weekend. For the losers, the season is over in the blink of an eye.
Dallas will tumble to Timbers
FC Dallas v Portland Timbers
FC Dallas have staggered to the end of the season, and this campaign has felt like a familiar story. They start well, they build a lead, and then they go downhill in the second part of the campaign and stumble over the line.
They lost their last three games of the regular season, and with Giovanni Savarese having the chance to rest players in Portland's last regular season match, you have to think that the Timbers go to Toyota Stadium with a major chance.
Portland haven't been at their best this season, but have finally adjusted to a new Coach, and they come into the Play Offs as a team to avoid. They have MLS Cup winning experience from 2015, they have last season's MVP in Diego Valeri, and they have an inner belief that I just don't see in FC Dallas, who fall apart when things don't go their way, and respond poorly to pressure.
However you choose to support them, Portland are a healthy price here.
Back Portland to beat FC Dallas @ [4.3]
Repeat thrashing for Philly
NYCFC v Philadelphia
We have a seemingly clear form line for this game from the weekend, when, in the last match of the regular season, Philadelphia did this column no favours at all and went down 3-1 at Yankee Stadium. Now the two teams reconvene and I can see a similar kind of outcome.
The Union's defending was comical at times on Sunday, with David Villa's third NYCFC goal a particular sight to behold, and I just wonder if the efforts of the season have got to Philadelphia a little. They weren't at the races four days ago, and while you could be kind and say that we'll see a different Philly here, there's no obvious reason to suggest that we will.
NYCFC are a hard team to pin down, but they're fresh after that near month off from which they returned last week, and their key players are all back fit and firing. I'm surprised to see them as big as [1.8] to win this in 90 minutes, and while that's not normally my kind of price, it's a bit of value here.
Back NYCFC to beat Philadelphia Union @ [1.8]
DCU roll continues
DC United v Columbus Crew
DC United were in second gear at the weekend as they were held by the Chicago Fire, while the Columbus Crew had a more serene evening than a few people expected, as a weather delay meant that they could watch Montreal fail against New England, before they met Minnesota.
The Crew struggled defensively against Minnesota, and I wonder if that will be the key here. DC United have put together an astonishing run of form to make these play offs and their performances at home have been particularly impressive.
DCU have won six of their last seven at home, and even managed to beat Columbus at their old ground earlier in the season when they were a shadow of the team that they are now.
The Crew have lost four of their last six away from home, and for all that I've enjoyed watching Gyasi Zardes bounce back to form this season, I don't think there's enough behind him and Federico Higuain to get this job done.
DC United are riding the crest of a wave, and we should support them to take this remarkable run a stage further.
Rare play offs overs
LAFC v Real Salt Lake
These fixtures can often be low scoring, but if there is to be one of them which explodes into life, it looks like being this one. These two sides have the worst defensive records of those who have advanced this far, and there are sound reasons to believe that there'll be at least four goals here.
The RSL Coach Mike Petke had written off his team's chances of making the post season, but the LA Galaxy produced a one in a million collapse and so there'll be a sense of devil may care about Real Salt Lake as they approach this. You know: they shouldn't really be here, so they might as well make the most of it.
Both of these teams like to play expansive football, and this looks like being wide open, with LAFC likely to come out on top as the price of [1.54] available accurately reflects. I wouldn't write off RSL entirely, though, the fact that they had Decision Day off certainly helps them.
I see a high scoring encounter in which RSL will over perform, but ultimately be subdued, and goals is definitely the bet for us.
P/L 2018 Regular Season
Staked: 96 points
Returned: 116.49 points
P/L +20.49 points
Back DC United to beat Columbus Crew @ [2.1]
Back Over 3.5 Goals in LAFC v RSL @ [2.1]