MLS Playoffs – LA Galaxy v Colorado Rapids Preview (30/10/16)

LA Galaxy preview

The Galaxy beat off RSL in impressive fashion on Wednesday night (3-1) and are back where they belong in the two legged rounds. Manager Bruce Arena has won this cup on numerous occasions and knows how to get the job done. What was really noticeable about Galaxy in midweek was how much energy and drive they had. Winger Emmanuel Boateng played a blinder, netting two goals but the overall team performance was noticeably good. The Galaxy prevailed without attacker Gyasi Zardes, who is likely out for the season. Steven Gerrard is constantly nursing an injury and it's unclear exactly what sort of state he’s in, whilst Robbie Keane started from the bench. With Alan Gordon netting twice upfront, Arena has a big decision to make whether to stick with him or bring Keane back into the XI. My guess is that the Irishman will start in a game of this magnitude. Galaxy have only lost once at home all season but Colorado have managed to obtain two draws at the StubHub centre which is fairly impressive.

Colorado Rapids preview

The rocky mountain side were terrible last season, finishing bottom of the Western Conference. But they've turned things around in 2016 nearly winning the supporters shield,. In fact, failure to beat Houston last weekend (1-1) cost them a possible chance of claiming that crown. It’s the MLS Cup that everyone wants to win though and Colorado will be very dangerous in the postseason. They are the best defensive team in the whole MLS and there’s an old saying that ‘defence wins championships’ If that is the case, then look no further than the Rapids.  They’ve conceded just 32 goals which is significantly less than any other side, and racked up a whopping 13 clean sheets. Colorado will almost certainly come here playing to their strengths, looking for a 0-0. They know they are so strong at home that a draw here would put them in a very strong position. The Rapids head into the postseason in good condition injury wise. Only midfielder Dillon Serna is ruled out for the rest of the campaign. Experienced US international Jermaine Jones is recently returned and might even be in contention to start, although a bench spot is more likely.

Conclusion & betting analysis

From a personal point of view I hope LA Galaxy knock out Colorado in this round. With the Rapids out of way, two easy over bet winners would likely ensure in the Western Conference final, whoever the Galaxy met. Colorado are simply too boring and negative for my liking. Fair play to them, they are effective right from Tim Howard in goal to Kevin Doyle upfront. They get the job done and have to be respected. But this is now the playoffs when experience really counts. The Galaxy have been here and done it before and can take some confidence into the match after their midweek showing. They have the extra classy individual players who can make a real difference. This has all the makings of a tight match. Colorado will be extremely difficult to break down and even if they go 0-1 behind they will still probably park the bus. I don’t think the Galaxy will win easily, but there should be a goal in them somewhere to take victory. The hosts can be backed at around the 1.90 mark on a -0.5 Asian handicap and this is big enough to tempt me. They know they have to take an advantage with them back to Denver and I dare say if you offered the Rapids a loss by just a one goal margin, they’d take it.

Prediction: 1-0

Recommended bet 1 unit: LA Galaxy -0.5 @ 1.89