After a week off due to the international break, the MLS Playoffs return this Sunday with the first leg of the conference finals. Both conference finals will play their first leg on Sunday and the second leg on Thursday before the MLS Cup Final on December 8. Whichever team wins the Eastern Conference Finals will host as both of those teams finished with more regular season points than their Western Conference counterparts.
In the Eastern Conference Finals, the New York Red Bulls will square off against Atlanta United, while in the Western Conference Finals, Sporting Kansas City will meet the Portland Timbers. The first leg of the Eastern Conference Finals will be on ESPN at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, and the first leg of the Western Conference Finals will kick off shortly afterwards on FS1.
MLS Conference Finals Betting at BookMaker.eu
Atlanta United -125
New York Red Bulls +323
Over/Under 2.5 and 3
Unfortunately for Atlanta United, they missed out on a golden opportunity at the end of the regular season. They had a chance to sew up the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, but they ended up losing to Toronto and now they must host the New York Red Bulls in the first leg rather than in the second leg.
These teams met twice during the regular season with the Red Bulls winning both games. They used their defense to shut down Atlanta’s high-powered offense in both tilts, winning 3-1 in Atlanta in late May and 2-0 in New Jersey at the end of September.
Stopping Josef Martinez will continue to be the key for the Red Bulls. Martinez is now the most prolific single season goal scorer in MLS history, but he has yet to find the back of the net against the Red Bulls in two matches this year. The Red Bulls have one of the best defenses in the MLS, and they will need to remain sharp here.
Miguel Almiron will probably be playing his last games in the United States. Multiple English clubs are keen on adding the Paraguayan midfielder, and Atlanta United are unlikely to keep him despite its best efforts.
There is also some real danger for Atlanta United headed into this one. Five Atlanta players are one yellow card away from being suspended for the second leg, and losing some of them would be disastrous. Martinez, Eric Remedi, Hector Villalba, Franco Escobar, and Miles Robinson must stay within the laws of the game.
Portland Timbers +141
Sporting Kansas City +196
Portland is happy to be here after knocking off rival Seattle in the last round, and now the Timbers have a chance to claim their second MLS Cup title in four seasons. They have two of the best playmakers in the league in Diego Chara and Diego Valeri, and they will ask those two to lead the way for the team.
Sporting KC ended the regular season as the best team in the Western Conference, and they looked great in their first playoff series against Real Salt Lake. They controlled possession for long stretches and netted five goals in those two matches. Johnny Russell is the team’s leading scorer coming into the Western Conference Finals, but Daniel Salloi and Diego Rubio have made their presence felt too.
In the same vein as Atlanta, Portland must avoid unnecessary yellow cards on Sunday. Valeri and Chara both are one yellow away from an automatic suspension, and Andres Flores and Liam Ridgewell are on the precipice as well. Only Roger Espinoza is close for the side of Sporting KC.
The Timbers like to play on the counter, as they are best at creating in space. Sporting KC know they must avoid turnovers, and they are likely to be in good position if they do. These teams played twice during the regular season, and Portland was unable to score either time.
Major League Soccer Odds
BookMaker offers play-by-play betting odds for live sporting events every day! The user-friendly wagering interface on your smartphone provides an easy way to place bets on the go. Mobile betting lines are updated by the minute, so click here to start gambling on thrilling live action at BookMaker Sportsbook!