New York Red Bulls v FC Cincinnati
The second match of the MLS weekend sees two Eastern Conference sides meeting at Red Bull Arena when the New York Red Bulls welcome FC Cincinnati to the Big Apple for a key match in the competition.
The Red Bulls look safe in the top seven as we approach the end of the regular season but they have played more matches than anyone else in the play-off shake up so they can’t afford a poor run of form all of a sudden.
FC Cincinnati sit in the middle of what is quite a logjam from fifth to 13th which are separated by just five points so they know if they can pick up a win here it will do their hopes of being around when the knockout stuff starts the world of good.
The position they are in means that Cincinnati can’t park the bus and play for a draw here, although that isn’t their style anyway. They are becoming the ultimate shootout team which high scoring matches everywhere you look.
Only the top three in the East have scored more than Cincinnati while only DC United have conceded more than them and I expect the trend of goals to continue here as Red Bulls matches have suddenly taken a high scoring look too.
Within the last three weeks they have been involved in a 4-3 win and 5-4 loss and their match in Atlanta in midweek which ended 2-1 was fairly open too. There are goals in both of these teams and in their last 10 matches in MLS these two have delivered three clean sheets combined. Over 2.5 goals looks a very safe play here.
Colorado Rapids v Houston Dynamo
Two Western Conference sides who are outside the top seven looking in meet at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in the early hours of Sunday morning when the Colorado Rapids, table toppers last season, host a struggling Houston Dynamo side.
There is only one position between these two in the table but Colorado are six points better off and have just about maintained hope of catching the top seven over the remainder of the season.
That hope has faded fast for the Dynamo who have lost their last four matches heading to Denver and who don’t look like a cohesive unit at all. They are one of the worst sides on their travels and with little to play for here you sense they could be ripe for a bit of a beating, similar to the 6-0 one they took in Philadelphia a few weeks ago.
It took the Rapids an age to get going this season. Whether that was down to a lingering disappointment of the way last year ended only they will know, but they are in decent form heading into this match, having lost just two of their last eight outings.
Colorado Rapids have picked up 25 points on home soil this season and the obvious advantages they have when playing at home continue to serve them well. Only two sides have come away from Denver with a win this season and I don’t expect Houston to be a third.
Houston have picked up nine points on their travels this term but have lost nine of their 12 matches and when they get beat they tend to lose comfortably. Statistics will tell you Colorado should be much higher up the table with their xGD of 6.6 being the fourth best in the competition. These things tend to work themselves out in the end so if the Rapids take their chances in this one three points look to be theirs for the taking.
Columbus Crew v Atlanta United
One of the later matches to kick off on Sunday evening sees two recent MLS Cup champions meeting when the Columbus Crew play host to Atlanta United in what is another key fixture for both teams as they chase a place in the postseason action.
A run of one defeat in their last 12 matches have seen the 2020 champions Columbus Crew move up to fifth in the Eastern Conference and all of a sudden with matches in hand they have their sights set on those above them and the chance of securing a home play-off match.
It is anything but that for Atlanta United. They are second from bottom and four points away from the top seven and need to come home with a flourish to give themselves any chance of reaching the business end of the campaign, however the signs are not positive for them, especially on the road.
They continue to flounder on their travels and it might just be that for all the money that has been spent on their roster, for all the injuries they have suffered this season, they are just not good enough. They have been successful just once away from home all term and that was at DC United where most teams are winning this season.
Columbus are in decent form on their own patch at present with Montreal and Los Angeles FC the only two teams to have come away from Lower.com Field with all three points since April.
With Cucho Hernandez settled in and Lucas Zelarayan pulling the strings the Crew should remain a strong force and those two can combine with those around them to beat a dismal Atlanta team who are the worst in the East away from home.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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