It’s the Conference finals this weekend which means just one fixture away from the MLS Cup. Both ties must produce a definite outcome which means there is the provision for extra time and penalties. At this stage of any competition, home advantage should be important.
However, the ties bring together the best two teams in each Conference. Losing a semi-final is possibly the worst feeling in football so none of the four qualifiers are likely to throw caution to the wind. We have analyzed the form and any team news in making our MLS picks today.
Conference Finals – Picks, Odds & Lines
Portland Timbers vs Real Salt Lake City
|Timbers to win
|Salt Lake to win
Portland had the best home record in the Western Conference. They confirmed home-field advantage in Round one of the playoffs with a 3-1 win over Minnesota. The Timbers then showed their class with a win on the road against Colorado in the semi-finals of the Conference. Colorado finished top of the table in the regular season so this was an outstanding effort from the visitors.
The home team in this final lost just two matches on their own ground during the regular season. Eleven wins from 17 fixtures helped them to finish fourth and three places and seven points against Real Salt Lake City. It’s difficult to see beyond a home win in this tie, even though the visitors have gone against the form book to reach this stage.
However, Salt Lake won just five away fixtures during the regular season. Just 17 of their tally of 48 points during the league campaign were earned on the road. That record was turned on its head because RSL qualified for the Conference final by winning two away ties. Even so, Portland playing at home cannot be ignored so are the pick for this match.
MLS Pick – Portland Timbers to beat Real Salt Lake City
Philadelphia vs New York City
|Philadephia to win
|NYC to win
Philadelphia earned home advantage in Round one and the semi-finals of the Eastern Conference playoffs because of their league position. The Union finished one place and 19 points behind New England during the regular campaign. The leaders in the table at the end of the season were big favourites to win the MLS Cup.
However, New York City reversed the form by beating New England after extra time and penalties in the semi-finals. If they can beat a side they were 22 points adrift of during the regular season, a win in Philadelphia is not out of the question. They are meeting in a one-off tie so results during the normal campaign are less important that in a league fixture.
New York did win only four road matches in the league but the win in New England must have given them great confidence. To beat the best team in the MLS on the road was outstanding form. So, their playoff results suggest they should be our pick in the match against Philadelphia.
MLS Pick – New York City to beat Philadelphia