March Madness is approaching and the 64 team tournament is consistently the most heart pounding and exhilarating collection of games in all athletics. Who will win it all? A perennial favorite that won't be denied or will one team catch lightning in a bottle and make history?
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MLS Playoff Odds
MLS Postseason Predictions
By Paul Seaton
Wednesday October 26th
Toronto F.C. (-145) vs. Philadelphia Union (+365) 7.30pm ET
Much of the preseason focus is placed firmly on Montreal's exciting combination of Ignacio Piatti and Didier Drogba. But let's not forget about Toronto, who have come through on the rail in the MLS regular season and now find themselves +800 shots to win the MLS Cup.
It's justified. While Union started the season well, rocketing to the top of the conference, they have since plummeted and barely scraped into the postseason. Toronto are good picks to win this clash in a straight bet.
L.A. Galaxy (-130) vs. Real Salt Lake (+335) 10.30pm ET
The advantage of qualifying for the playoffs early is having the ability to rest players, and that means former Premier League superstars Robbie Keane (+550 to score first) and Steven Gerrard (+1000 to be Man of the Match) are well rested ahead of the most one-sided MLS postseason prospect.
RSL did well to reach the playoff, but their away record isn't encouraging so look for them to give up an early goal. Bet on the first goal coming between either the 1st-10th minute (+275) or 11th-20th minute (+305).
Thursday October 27th
D.C. United (+130) vs. Montreal Impact (+195) 7.30pm
D.C. United should have fewer problems than the bookies think and will march on to the Conference Semifinals. At +130 to do so at home, they are a great bet without needing to get too smart.
Seattle Sounders (+105) vs. Sporting Kansas City (+245)
It's hard to see how the Seattle Sounders keep making the postseason, especially with their deeply flawed defense. However, they have a favorable matchup in this one-off playoff encounter. Sporting KC have also been erratic at points and Seattle have already shown they can beat anyone on the day, especially at home. While they are outside chance to win the MLS Cup at (+2000) and are unlikely to go much further, they will win against Sporting KC.
New York City come into their first postseason in good form, having challenged cross-city rivals New York Red Bulls for first place right up until the penultimate weekend. They should have far too much for Toronto in normal circumstances, but the Canadian postseason picks are in good form themselves and should they meet, it will be a closer game than many predict. Take New York City by a single goal.
Although Red Bulls should take care of business against DC United, they may be in for a shock in the semifinals. New York City will be desperate to make up for humiliation in the regular season by exacting a knockout revenge. In Andrea Pirlo, David Villa and Frank Lampard, NYCFC have three of the best at big game players in MLS history. In 1990, Crystal Palace were hammered 9-0 at Anfield by Liverpool. Later that year the teams met in the F.A.Cup semifinal and Palace won 4-3. History shows us that such results often happen.
Here's another chance to see that battering Red Bulls handed to NYC:
Over in the West, it already looks a two-team fight, with FC Dallas and Colorado Rapids on a season-long collision course. They go right back, these two - check out this bitter fight for supremacy in the 2010 MLS Cup Final in 2010:
While Dallas may not have some of their stars available, they can pull it together for a decisive triumph against Rapids, and the win in extra time appeals should these sides meet. They are simply too close to call.
MLS Cup Final
The Final will see debutants New York City take on hardened champions of the West, FC Dallas. The media money will be on Dallas to show their mettle and dominate on the break with pace and power. But the best investment is on the newcomersif New York City play a smart, possession-based game. Although they have only just burst onto the MLS scene, a new franchise winning after big investment is the best advert Major League Soccer could have.
While Dallas may have enough to win an epic semifinal against Rapids, that could in effect be their MLS Cup Final. New York City, for all their financial backing, will be under less pressure than other teams in the postseason and possibly in electoral terms the blue will get over the line. They are +700 to win their first MLS Cup Final and will only get stronger as the postseason goes on. Get involved and back them to do the job in 90 minutes against FC Dallas.
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