CF Montreal v New York City FC
The MLS Cup Playoffs continue on Sunday evening when the two remaining Conference semi-finals take place, beginning with the Eastern Conference where CF Montreal and the champions New York City FC battle it out for the right to go to Philadelphia Union next week.
Both teams came through home matches in the opening round of the playoffs with a fair bit in hand but it was evident that neither were going to take too many risks and end their season, as opposed to grasping the opportunity in front of them and looking to grab it with both hands.
That could lead to a cagey affair, particularly when you consider what is on the line. Whoever wins this will go to Subaru Park next week to play for silverware and that is a significant carrot being dangled in front of these two teams.
Home advantage is probably going to keep CF Montreal as favourites for this match but NYC went on their travels a few times in the playoffs last season and ended up winning the title so they won’t mind having to play away here.
The league match at Saputo Stadium ended 0-0 and four of the last five MLS regular season matches between the two on this ground have finished with less than 2.5 goals so I’m not expecting a high scoring classic here.
Both these teams will know the opportunity they have in front of them and based on their first playoff matches they may well play not to lose rather than all out to win so under 2.5 goals looks the bet here.
Austin FC v FC Dallas
The last of the Conference semi-finals to kick off does so in the early hours of Monday morning and it comes from the Western Conference as Austin FC host FC Dallas in what is sure to be a hugely competitive Texas derby.
These two sides will head to Q2 Stadium knowing that whoever progresses will head to Los Angeles FC next weekend to compete for a place in the MLS Cup Final so the stakes here are pretty real.
Both of these teams had to negotiate a penalty shootout to make it through to this stage of the season and neither will want to push the margins that tight again so I’m expecting a really fluent game of football here.
Austin FC have been one of the better teams to watch throughout the regular season and nothing changed in that regard last weekend. FC Dallas carry plenty of danger in their front three though and they will be confident that they can impose themselves on this match in the key areas.
Both teams have scored in the last four meetings between these two outfits, and given what is on the game, and the quality of attacking personnel we have on the pitch here, I expect that trend to continue to a fifth game where both find the back of the net.
Austin FC have the likes of Sebastian Driussi and Maxi Urruti while FC Dallas have Paul Arriola, Jesus Ferreira and Alan Velasco in attacking areas. Both defences have just shown signs of weakness in recent weeks so I like the 1.57 on both teams to score here.
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