We have reached the Conference semi-finals stage with the four ties being played from this Thursday to next Wednesday. Here, we will focus on Sunday’s two meetings, with one fixture in the Eastern and Western Conference.
Both favorites are playing at home which is a huge advantage at this stage of the MLS. Only two wins will qualify a team for the MLS Cup and a win on Sunday takes a team one match closer and a meeting in the Conference finals. So let’s take a look at the matchups and our expert MLS picks.
MLS Conference Semifinals Picks
Sporting Kansas City vs Real Salt Lake (Sunday)
|Kansas to win||-160|
|Salt Lake to win||+420|
Kansas City finished four places and 10 points above Real Salt Lake during the Western Conference regular season. They scored 18 goals more than they conceded while their opponents had a positive goal difference of 1 goal. Kansas took third place and won exactly half of their 34 league fixtures. They lost three home matches and only the top team, Colorado, lost fewer home field fixtures.
Salt Lake clinched the last playoff spot on goal difference from Los Angeles, after finishing on the same number of points. They failed to win 12 of 17 road trips and 17 of their final tally of 48 points were won on the road. There are worse away records in MLS this season but the opposition is stronger than average in the Conference semi-finals.
It might be obvious to make the home team the pick in a Cup match. Bets are settled after 90 minutes and stoppage time and extra time and penalties do not count. It’s difficult to see Kansas City not establishing a lead during the normal time. Salt Lake did win the league meeting in Kansas in July but the home team is tipped to reverse the form in the more crucial match on Sunday.
MLS Pick – Sporting Kansas City to beat Real Salt Lake at -163
Philadelphia Union vs Nashville Soccer Club
|Philadelphia to win||-105|
|Nashville to win||+300|
If an away side at this stage of the play-offs can avoid defeat, Nashville Soccer Club has got to be leading contenders. The betting suggests this meeting should produce a standard home win but Nashville has it in them to avoid defeat after 90 minutes. The tie has to be decided on Sunday, initially with 30 minutes of extra time and then penalties if required. This could be Nashville’s route to the Conference Finals and a tie against New England or New York City.
Philadelphia and Nashville finished level on points during the regular season. Philadelphia claimed second place on goal difference but clearly, the sides are closely matched. Only New England, the league leaders, won more home matches than Philadelphia but they still failed to win 6 of 17 league meetings at Subaru Park. Both matches with Nashville produce 1-0 home wins so this semi-final encounter brings together two sides of similar ability.
Nashville qualified for this tie by beating Orlando City in the First Round. They conceded the first goal but overturned the score with a 3-1 victory. Nashville tied 9 of 17 away matches during the regular season and no team had more stalemates on the road in the Conference. Another draw is on the cards and then it’s all to play for during extra time and even penalties.
MLS Pick – Philadelphia Union to draw with Nashville Soccer Club at +240 with PointsBet.