New York Red Bulls may have competed in Major League Soccer since 1996 but they are still to win the coveted MLS Cup. They came close to doing so in 2008 when they reached the final, losing 3-1 to Columbus Crew at the Home Depot Center in California. Could 2016 be the year the Red Bulls finally lift MLS’ most sought after trophy?
Both the Red Bulls (+400 to win the MLS Cup) and NYCFC (+700) get a bye for respectively finishing first and second in the conference, leaving Toronto FC (+800) to host Philadelphia Union (+3300) and DC United (+2000) to entertain Montreal Impact (+2500).
Toronto (+300 to be the Eastern Conference winners) should make short work of Philadelphia Union (+2000), despite being held to a 1-1 draw last time the two teams met in Toronto. They enjoyed 63 percent possession and made almost twice as many passes in that encounter.
Union, meanwhile, are 0-5-2 in their last seven games and have limped into the playoffs.
D.C. United (+1200 to win the Eastern Conference) face Montreal Impact (+1400). Having locked up home advantage, where they are 9-4-4 despite resting 10 of their starting 11 for the last game, I expect D.C. United to hold firm and oust their Canadian rivals.
Impact are a disappointing 3-4-3 in their last 10 games and are enduring some off-field difficulties with Didier Drogba, which is further hampering their on-field form. I can’t see Impact progressing any further, so jump all over D.C. United to make the semi-finals.
Supporters’ Shield winners FC Dallas (-140 to win the Western Conference) and Colorado Rapids (+300) are idol after receiving first-round byes, leaving LA Galaxy (+300), Real Salt Lake (+1400), Seattle Sounders (+1400) and Sporting Kansas City (+1400) to battle it out for the final two semi-final spots.
Galaxy host Real Salt Lake at home, a ground they have only lost once at all season (8-1-8). Galaxy have scored the most goals in the Western Conference (54), including eight against Salt Lake, while Salt Lake have conceded the most goals (46) of any playoff team. This is a game Los Angeles should win, maybe even comfortably.
There isn’t a lot to separate the Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City, which makes this one-off playoff contest harder to predict. Sporting may have won at Sounders’ CenturyLink Field but they are 4-11-2 on the road compared to Sounders’ 10-5-2 record at home. Seattle’s crowd will give their home team the lift they need to outlast Kansas City. Seattle is just too good at home to be denied.
If the games go as predicted, DC United take on the Red Bulls with Toronto being pitted against NYCFC.
Red Bulls were awful on their travels this season (3-7-7) but have enough experienced players to see them return to New York with the aggregate tied. Even if they lose 2-1 away, Red Bulls are so strong at home (13-2-2) that they will still be confident of progressing to the final.
Toronto and NYCFC could be the best series of the playoffs. Their home and away records are similar, however, NYCFC seem to have peaked at the right time and have a wealth of talent and pedigree in their squad, which will be just enough to beat a Toronto side who will expect a lot from their home game. Look for NYCFC to advance in a memorable affair, perhaps even after the excitement of a penalty shootout.
Galaxy, after brushing aside Salt Lake in the first round, get a home advantage in the first game against Colorado Rapids. Both Galaxy and Rapids are +500 third favorites to win the MLS Cup but I think Galaxy are going to be too strong for the Rapids on home soil. However, Colorado were awesome at home (11-0-6 record) during regular season, but simply don’t score enough goals. I’d expect an LA win at home with Galaxy mustering a draw in Colorado, which will be enough to advance to the conference final.
Seattle should beat Sporting Kansas City, which will result in a game against MLS Cup favorites FC Dallas (+300 to win the MLS Cup). Although their respective records would argue otherwise, this is a game where Dallas can and will shine, seeing them progress to the conference championship. Seattle is poor on the road and cannot match up to Dallas’ elite level. Dallas have no weaknesses and will relish an opportunity to showcase their talent against a somewhat mediocre Seattle side.
The Eastern Conference Championship, with our predicted results, will be contested by both New York teams, with the Western Conference Championship seeing Dallas FC welcome LA Galaxy.
Red Bulls are an awesome team on home soil having finished regular season 13-2-2, which includes a 4-1 win over NYCFC. And let’s not forget the Red Bulls 7-0 dismantling of NYCFC at Yankee Stadium, too. Evidenced by these two results alone, Red Bulls will win the Eastern Conference and progress to the MLS Cup final.
Dallas beat Galaxy 1-0 at home on October 1 and I can see a similar result in this potential conference final. Dallas have momentum on their side and momentum counts for a lot at this stage of the season. It will be close, but Dallas should win the Western Conference and go through to the MLS Cup final.
MLS Cup Final
So, it looks like an FC Dallas and New York Red Bulls final. The Red Bulls will be very confident going into the finals against Dallas, a team they disposed of 4-0 earlier in the season. The MLS Cup is a completely different game from regular season, but I still think Red Bulls will win the first MLS Cup in their history, beating FC Dallas 2-1. Make sure you take the Red Bulls, who Bovada have pegged at +400 to win the MLS Cup, before the lines shift. This is a great futures bet, one that we have the utmost confidence in.