MLS Playoffs – New York City FC v Toronto FC Preview (6/11/16)

New York City preview

Patrick Vieira changed his normal approach in the first leg. NYCFC are usually very attack minded and look to take the game to the opposition, but his main aim was to keep a clean sheet at BMO Field. City lined up solid and hard to break down for the majority of the match it was possibly the best they defended all year. A lot of fouls were committed and it was clearly Vieira’s idea to slow the game down into a bitty contest. It looked like they would escape with a 0-0 draw but two late Toronto FC goals has put City well and truly on the back foot. They have no other option but to attack now. If a goal is conceded end then the hosts would need to score at least four to prevail. But Vieira's men are one of the highest scoring in MLS, so it's possible.

Toronto FC preview

Toronto have perfected the 3-5-2 formation recently. Manager Greg Vanney is the only MLS boss who has regularly used it this season and at this crucial stage of the campaign things seem to be clicking for TFC. They obtained an excellent first leg result and added to their 3-1 win against Philly in the knockout round. Now for the first time TFC have to travel on the road in the playoffs, but at least they take with them a solid 2-0 lead. It will be interesting to see what sort of tactics are employed now. Toronto certainly have the capability to defend if they want to. But with attacking players like Giovinco & Altidore in their ranks then it would be foolish not to exploit the almost guaranteed gaps New York City will leave them at some stage.

Conclusion & betting analysis

I see no reason why this match won’t open up. At some stage one of the teams, especially New York City are going to have to go for it. There's always a danger that this might end 2-0 exactly and we head to extra time, but I don't personally see the hosts keeping it tight enough. Toronto have plenty of weapons on the break to really hurt their opponents and someone like Giovinco is likely to get on the scoresheet. NYC can be backed on a -0.25 Asian handicap close to the even money mark. This is a little bit tempting but I’ve always had a nagging feeling that City could get caught out on the break if chasing the game. The pick I prefer is over 3 goals. This pick let me down last week and NYC tactics threw me off. The difference here is that they have to be aggressive. Toronto can sit back and time waste if they want, but at some stage they will be offered opportunities on a plate. The lure of an away goal is surely too much, and if they score one then this game could go crazy. So I think over 3 is the best pick. My prediction is for New York City to win on the night, but for Toronto to go through on aggregate, possibly via away goals.

Prediction: 3-1

Recommended bet 1 unit: Over 3 goals @ 1.78