MLS Playoffs – Montreal Impact v New York Red Bulls Preview (30/10/16)

Montreal Impact preview

The Canadian outfit surprised everyone in midweek by beating DC United away from home in the knockout round 4-2. Both goals they conceded were consolations and the margin of victory should've been much greater. The Impact employed the perfect gameplan and counter attacked superbly. Key playmaker Ignacio Piatti was at the heart of things pulling the strings as ever. All of the talk prior to the game was that Didier Drogba was again missing in action, but they proved they can cope without him. Matteo Mancosu played a blinder, netting twice and also nailing an assist. There are some reports that Drogba will be fit for this match but at best he would only make the bench. I would find it surprising if coach Mauro Biello disrupted their momentum and should keep an unchanged side. Montreal have only had three days of rest, but they must be buzzing after Thursday night and they have huge amounts of momentum.

New York Red Bulls preview

Jesse Marsch’s men enter the playoffs unbeaten in 16 games and are the favourites to progress from the Eastern Conference into the MLS Cup final. It seems that the Red Bulls are the kings of the regular season, but always struggle once the nitty gritty starts. They’ve only ever made it to one MLS cup final, which they lost. I don’t think the two leg format has ever really helped them. The Bulls have always been formidable at home but a negative result here could pile on the pressure ahead of the tie at Red Bull Arena. The big strength of this team is in offensive areas with the likes of Bradley Wright Phillips & Sacha Kljestan. They have a very consistent XI and everyone knows each other well. I’m sure they will be positive in this match and look for at least one away goal. It’s worth noting that most of their victories during this unbeaten run have been at home. Here on the road they’ve only beaten Philly and Vancouver, two sides who have been dreadfully out of form.

Conclusion & betting analysis

Everyone is trying to work out how the Red Bulls can be knocked out of the playoffs. Well, right now everyone starts on a level playing field and this is a two legged tie. Nothing can be won or lost in this first leg, although obviously someone could put themselves in the driving seat. I feel that of all the Eastern Conference sides, Montreal are possibly the most balanced. They lack for star quality, apart from Piatti of course but work really hard together as a unit. They can mix defence with attack pretty well and simply can’t be underestimated. With away goals important in these playoffs, I’m sure the Red Bulls will come here with an attacking gameplan. That’s their style under Jesse Marsch and he is unlikely to deviate from it. All these fixtures between the sides this season have ended in home wins. I personally think we’ll see quite an open game of football and there’s enough attacking talent from both sides for an over 2.5 goals line to cover. The Red Bulls never make life easy for themselves in these playoffs so I have a sneaky suspicion they could end up losing. But it would be too risky taking Montreal on a DNB Asian handicap, even if it’s a tempting price. I anticipate the Montreal Impact ‘North Star Bell’ to be ringing a few times today, so I’ll stick with the over pick.

Prediction: 2-1

Recommended bet 1 unit: Over 2.5 goals @ 1.88