MLS Playoffs – Colorado Rapids v Seattle Sounders Preview (27/11/16)

Colorado Rapids preview

The surprising thing about the first leg was that the Rapids managed to score a goal. Everyone expected them to bunker down and just park the bus, offering nothing going forwards. But Kevin Doyle’s deflected strike could prove crucial. Unfortunately, they went on to concede a couple at the other end but if you’d offered Colorado a 2-1 loss prior to kick off, they’d have snapped your hand off! The Rocky Mountain side have a priceless away goal, something which Paolo Mastroeni’s men didn’t get against LA Galaxy in the previous round. Some bad news for the Rapids is that defensive midfielder Sam Cronin is suspended and he’s been a real influential figure this season. Of course, star goalkeeper Tim Howard is ruled out for a few months and won’t feature either. Zac McMath actually did a fairly good job deputising last week. He recovered after an early mistake to make some vital saves. Colorado have a superb home record this season, winning 12 and drawing 6 games at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Nicknamed locally as ‘The Dick’ this place is an absolute fortress at altitude and gives the Rapids a significant advantage.

Seattle Sounders preview

Brian Schmetzer’s men won the first leg, but ideally they’d have preferred not to concede an away goal. In the previous round the key to their success against Dallas was the fact they managed to keep out the Supporters Shield champions in the first leg, putting them massively in the driving seat. A 1-0 defeat would now see them get knocked out, but the simple equation is if they win or draw then they’ll make it through to the MLS Cup final. Seattle have been one of the hot teams at the end of the season, catching fire when it really matters. In Nicolas Lodeiro they’ll have the best player on the pitch and a couple of classy moments from him could help secure their progression. One negative thing to consider is that their away record isn’t great and they’ll have to travel to a high location at altitude. A visit to the Rapids is far from easy and the Sounders might have to lean on their defence to get the job done. I’d imagine they keep a similar XI, although the likes of Ivanschitz & Brad Evans are waiting in the wings should the coach want to change things up.

Conclusion & betting analysis

Despite conceding an away goal, a lot of people are already convinced that Seattle have made it through to the final. They’ve been in such great form and on paper they appear to have an edge in most areas. Couple that with the injury to Tim Howard and all the talk has been doom and gloom for the Rapids. If there’s one thing we should learn from this season is that Paolo Mastroeni’s men can never be underestimated though. They are a really well organised team and have the ability to turn this deficit around. Few gave them much of a prayer facing LA Galaxy and on that occasion they managed to beat LA 1-0 in the return leg and eventually prevail on penalties. A repeat of that same scoreline here would see them host the MLS Cup final in a couple of weeks. This place is a fortress and I’m winning to back them to deliver. The Rapids are on a -0.25 Asian handicap around the 1.85 mark and this looks generous. Of course, they might get desperate at the end and succumb to a late defeat or something, but I think there’s a pretty strong chance they win on the night. Whether it’s enough to send them to the MLS Cup final, I’m not sure. Something like a 2-1 scoreline and extra time certainly can’t be ruled out. The MLS playoffs are usually dramatic and my gut feeling is not to rule out Colorado, they could have a few more cards left to play.

Prediction: 2-1

Recommended bet 1 unit: Colorado Rapids -0.25 @ 1.87