MLS Playoff Conference Semifinals Preview

By  Jonathan Willis

Friday, November 2nd, 2018

MLS Playoff Conference Semifinals Preview

That’s why they play the games. The MLS Playoffs continue to be a topsy-turvy affair as we saw when three of the four higher seeds upset lower seeds to get to the conference semifinals. While many called for the Portland Timbers to knock off a slumping FC Dallas, only a handful of people believed that the Columbus Crew would take down a surging DC United squad and fewer still thought Real Salt Lake could defeat Los Angeles FC. Now, the teams that were the strongest in the regular season will look to avoid similar fates.

The conference semifinals are decided over the course of two legs. The higher seed will host the first leg, while the lower seed will host the return leg.

MLS Betting Odds at

There have been no soccer betting odds released for the matches as of yet, but check back on Friday and Saturday for betting lines.

Atlanta United vs New York City FC

It was a bit of a disappointing end to the season for Atlanta United. Although Josef Martinez is the runaway MVP and the leading single-season goal scorer in MLS history, the club missed out on the Supporters Shield and a chance to have homefield advantage throughout the postseason with a loss to Toronto FC on Decision Day. They are still significant favorites to advance over a New York City FC squad that fell off the pace over the last half of the season.

NYCFC have finally won a playoff series. The club was one and done in the postseason in each of the last two years, so the pressure is somewhat off after a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Union last weekend. They have their work cut out for them against Atlanta United, but they match up well with them. These should be relatively high scoring matches with plenty of action.

New York Red Bulls vs. Columbus Crew

Give credit to the Crew for finding a way to win against DC United on Thursday. Columbus was a decent underdog heading into that match, as Wayne Rooney had turned the club in our nation’s capital into a juggernaut over the last few months. The Crew were able to get a late equalizer in extra time to cancel out a Federico Higuain goal and won it in penalties 3-2 to advance.

They have the unenviable task of facing the best team in the MLS now. The New York Red Bulls have been great this year. NYRB have looked very strong lately, and Bradley Wright-Phillips continues to be a goal scoring menace.

Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers

This might be the most anticipated playoff meeting of the bunch. Seattle and Portland have an intense rivalry due to their geographic proximity, and these teams clash for the Cascadia Cup every year. They have combined to win the Western Conference in each of the last three seasons, and there will be no love lost when they meet on the pitch.

Both teams started the year at the bottom of the standings but played their way out of ruts with strong performances in the middle of the season.

Sporting KC vs Real Salt Lake

This series is likely to have the most lopsided odds. Real Salt Lake were incredibly fortunate to even sneak into the playoffs, and they have the worst defense of anyone still alive. They erased a 2-1 deficit to come back and defeat Los Angeles FC, and they only just managed to hold on for the win.

Before you rush to the window to bet Sporting KC though, note that Real Salt Lake has performed well against the club in their three previous meetings. RSL are 1-1-1 against Sporting KC this year, and that’s better than most teams fared in the West. I believe Sporting KC certainly has the upper hand, but the gap between these two teams isn’t as wide as some might think.

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