Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports.
The MLS Playoffs first round was an exhilarating ride and the theme was extra time madness. The Seattle Sounders had to go to extra time to hold off a pesky FC Dallas that came back from a 2-0 and 3-2 deficit. In extra time, 2019 MLS Comeback Player of the Year Jordan Morris headed in the winner in extra time and Seattle advanced. Also, Philadelphia overcame a 3-1 deficit against the New York Red Bulls and won 4-3 in extra time. Lastly, Toronto FC beat DC United 5-1 in extra time with four goals in that period. With the first round in the books, it’s time to look ahead to the second round.
Wednesday, October 23
Toronto FC at NYCFC
NYCFC was red hot in the second half of the season, winning 10 of their last 11 games to secure the top seed in the Eastern Conference. They are led by the leading assister in the MLS, midfielder Maxi Moralez, who had 20 assists, and Heber who was fifth in the MLS in goals with 15. With this dynamic duo, they are the favorites to represent the Eastern Conference in the MLS Cup Finals. They will face Toronto FC, who scored four extra time goals in their 5-1-win vs DC United. Toronto comes in with momentum, but NYCFC has too much firepower for Toronto to keep up with.
Prediction: NYCFC 3 Toronto FC 1
Real Salt Lake at Seattle
Seattle had a thrilling extra time win over pesky FC Dallas but survived from a hat-trick by Jordan Morris. Seattle has a dynamic attack, but their defensive performance is concerning as goalkeeper Stefan Frei got very little help from his backline. Real Salt Lake eliminated the Sounders’ biggest rival, the Portland Timbers, with a 2-1 in the rain and snow at Salt Lake City. They were boosted by a late goal from Jefferson Savarino. RSL on paper is a better version of what FC Dallas is and this will be a similar test for the Sounders. This will be a battle that will go to ET, but the Sounders deadly front-line will be too much for RSL to handle as Seattle will again win in extra time.
Prediction: Seattle 3 Real Salt Lake 2 Final ET
Thursday August 24
Philadelphia Union at Atlanta United
Philadelphia looked to be in a world of trouble vs the New York Red Bulls. They trailed at home 3-1 at halftime vs the Red Bulls, but goals from Elliott and Picault sent it into extra time. Then a curler by Marco Fabian sent the Union into a frenzy and a victory. They will head to Atlanta to take on Atlanta United. Atlanta got a battle from the seventh seed New England Revolution at home, by a long-range missile from center-back Franco Escobar led Atlanta to a 1-0 victory. Atlanta will take advantage of a struggling Union defense and will rebound from a shaky offensive performance with an emphatic victory.
Prediction: Atlanta 4 Philadelphia 2
Los Angeles Galaxy at LAFC
LAFC has achieved the most points of any MLS team in regular season history, and Mexican winger, Carlos Vela, broke Josef Martinez’s record for most goals scored in a season with 34. They have other weapons such as Diego Rossi, who was fourth in the MLS with 16 goals. LAFC had a historic season, but LAFC has still never won playoff game after crashing out vs RSL last season. They have also never beaten LA Galaxy and their superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic. LAFC has two losses and three draws vs LA Galaxy, and once again, LAFC will run into their nemesis. Zlatan scored five goals against LAFC this season and will look to continue to strike daggers into the heart of LAFC. Once again, the clutchest player in the MLS will doom LAFC once again and the Galaxy will remain undefeated in the El Trafico.
Prediction: LA Galaxy 3 LAFC 2