Philadelphia Union vs Atlanta United
The Eastern Conference leaders open up the show in a midweek set of action in the MLS in the early hours of Thursday morning when Philadelphia Union host a potentially desperate Atlanta United side at Subaru Park.
The Union head into this round of matches with a five point buffer at the top in the East but they know that Montreal are in brilliant form so Philadelphia need to keep winning if they are going to secure that first round bye.
They are in incredible form at the minute with eight wins in their last 10 and they have gone goal crazy in that time notching seven in one game, six in three other matches and four in one more. They have gone from struggling in front of goal to the second highest scorers in MLS in no time at all.
That spells trouble for an Atlanta United side who can’t keep the ball out of their net. The Five Stripes have conceded twice in their last four outings, the latest of which came against goal shy DC United which is less than ideal even though they won that match.
Atlanta are threatening going the other way but not many teams get much joy out of a very well organised defence which has the best keeper in MLS behind it so when you consider Atlanta need a win as they sit three points off the top seven, this fixture comes around at a bad time.
Philadelphia are absolutely flying and whether this is another demolition job or a narrower win I expect the home side to take the points home here.
CF Montreal vs New York Red Bulls
We are at the stage of the season where we are looking at potential postseason matches next month and one such possibility occurs on Thursday morning when second placed CF Montreal welcome the fourth placed New York Red Bulls to Saputo Stadium in an all-Eastern Conference clash.
The good news for these two is that they will both be around for the play-offs barring a complete loss of form, the sort of which looks unlikely, so this is a clash where they can lay a marker down in case they do meet when it really matters.
There aren’t many sides in better form than CF Montreal in MLS right now. They are undefeated in eight matches and have picked up 20 of a possible 24 points and are scoring goals again. They had a wobble a couple of months back when Djordje Mihailovic was injured but he is back now and it is brilliant news that his transfer to Europe doesn’t go through until January.
New York Red Bulls have been in the top five of the Eastern Conference throughout the season and now their aim should be to finish the campaign strongly and be a real force in the postseason, where traditionally they struggle.
No team in MLS has as many points on their travels as the Red Bulls so they won’t be too disadvantaged by being on the road here which should equate to a good game of football, one where both teams should flourish in which case I like goals in this one.
Goals tend to flow then these two meet. Eight of their last nine meetings have had more than 2.5 goals and with Montreal a much better outfit in front of goal these days I expect that to become nine out of 10.
Austin FC vs Portland Timbers
The pick of the midweek fixtures is the one in the Western Conference as top spot chasing Austin FC play host to a Portland Timbers side who gave themselves hope of reaching the play-offs at the weekend and will want to build on that good work.
Austin go into this match having knocked off the team many had already put the MLS Cup crown around in Los Angeles FC in a game they dominated from start to finish but Portland had a great result against rivals Seattle Sounders last time out and will head to Texas with their confidence restored as a result.
There aren’t many better teams to watch in MLS right now than Austin FC and even when they have to make changes their squad depth is much better than it was. In Sebastian Driussi they have a forward who is right on top of his game at the minute but Portland aren’t strangers in the goal department.
This is the sort of fixture that Sebastian Blanco tends to shine so we have some of the finest creators and talents in MLS on show here for a match both teams need to win.
That should lead to a number of goals in a fixture between the highest scoring team in MLS in Austin and a Portland side whose 28 matches this term are averaging over 3 goals per game.
For all these two sides are great to watch going forward, as ever when a big chunk of a salary cap is used up on offensive talent, their defences can be vulnerable. That can lead to an Austin home game having more than 2.5 goals for an eighth straight time and an 11th in 14 matches at Q2 Stadium.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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