Flawless MLS Cup 2017 Conference Finals Predictions
Here we are with just three games between one of the final four clubs still competing in the MLS Cup Playoffs and history. While Toronto and Seattle may feel a little predetermined to make it to this stage, it is safe to say Columbus and Houston were less heralded as potential champions at the start of the season.
As we have a look at both of these match-ups, I’d put forward the suggestion that each one is a compitition of momentum vs. pedigree. As the Dynamo and Crew found their form at the right time and come into the aggregate series feeling very confident. Here are both of the pairings:
Western Conference Finals:
Houston Dynamo vs. Seattle Sounders
The Dynamo start this series off at home, where they have been pretty good this season. A good opening game for Houston could make the second tie in the series very interesting. Seattle has been good no matter where they play, so Houston has everything to play for in the home leg. The Dynamo will be without goalkeeper Tyler Deric who is suspended among a few other players. Seattle on the other hand are missing some key names including Brad Evans (back), Jordan Morris (hamstring); and possibly Osvaldo Alonso (quad strain), Victor Rodriguez (quad strain), Chad Marshall (hip).
I can’t look past the Sounders here. Houston have had an enchanted post-season run playing the spoiler, but I think their luck runs out in Seattle. My prediction is the Sounders will play well in Texas and when they host the Dynamo in the Pacific Northwest they will be facing a team feeling like they have a mountain to climb.
Eastern Conference Finals:
Columbus Crew vs. Toronto FC
If you like a storyline with your tournament, this is the series to pay attention to. Behind threats to move MLS original the Columbus Crew to Austin, Texas, the Columbus community, MLS neutrals, and supporters whose horse has retired from this race long-ago have rallied behind the Crew. While a place in the MLS Cup Final would be a feel-good moment for the #SaveTheCrew campaign, they run up against arguably the best MLS team to ever be assembled. Toronto is dangerous all over the field and play with a swagger that brings positive results. This match-up comes down to the emotion of the Crew playing for the city, versus Toronto’s well-oiled machine.
Playing at home will give the Crew an edge in the first match, a sold out MAPFRE Stadium will be chanting for both a victory and for the very survival of their club. The Crew have been given the added advantage of Toronto having to leave a lot of firepower in Canada, as both Jozy Altidore (red card) and Sebastian Giovinco (yellow-card accumulation) have been suspended for this match.
The safe bet here is Toronto, but I’m a sucker for destiny and a good storyline. Plus, don’t we all want to see that awkward moment Don Garber has to hand a trophy to captain Will Trapp and reviled owner Anthony Precourt? My prediction is Columbus wins by enough to make the second leg in Toronto interesting, and the Reds can’t recover enough. It feels wrong to bank against the best MLS team on record, but soccer is a crazy game and I think the soccer gods will smile on Columbus.