Home Sites Should Give a Big Edge in MLS Conference Semifinals Leg 2

Kevin Stott

Monday, November 5, 2018 7:19 PM UTC

Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 7:19 PM UTC

Atlanta United FC has been outstanding at home. With a 1-0 aggregate lead over NYCFC, plus two of the best players in the league in Josef Martínez and Miguel Almirón, the Five Stripes should dispose of the Bronx Blues on Sunday when the 2018 MLS playoff field pares down to a final four.

MLS Capper Record Last Week: 3-1-0

MLS Capper October-November Record: 16-7-0

Real Salt Lake (15-8-14) at Sporting Kansas City (18-9-8)Sunday, 3 p.m. ESTFree MLS Pick: Sporting Kansas City MLBest Line Offered: Bookmaker

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After ousting expansion side LAFC in the Knockout Round of the MLS Cup Playoffs, Real Salt Lake hosted Western Division winners Sporting Kansas City in Leg 1 on Sunday night at Rio Tinto with RSL and GK Nick Rimando somewhat holding the Wizards in check in a 1-1 tie with the visitors getting a potentially valuable Road goal through sub Diego Rubio after Albert Rusnák scored for RSL at the 51-minute mark to give the hosts the lead.

A look at the L5 meetings in this Western Conference series (RSL 1-1 SKC, SKC 1-1 RSL, RSL 4-2 SKC, RSL 2-1 SKC, RSL 1-1 SKC) reveals RSL to be an unbeaten 2-3-0 against Sporting Kansas City with 3 Draws (all 1-1 Unders). So, the No. 6 seed here will certainly not be afraid of the hosts, although the Site might end up being the biggest factor in Leg 2 along with whoever scores the first goal, if there is one.

  • SKC is 6-5-3 lifetime at Home vs. RSL (18 GF-13 GA)
  • SKC last Win vs. RSL was on April 30, 2017 (SKC 2-0 RSL)
  • RSL 4-11-3 on Road, only club in West Playoffs with negative GD (3)

Besides the valuable site for hosts SKC, the Claret and Cobalt also have a much bigger problem with DP Rusnák out after picking up a 2nd Yellow Card in Leg 1 on Sunday after the Slovak’s international’s 1st half challenge on Graham Zusi. And with CB Marcelo Silva (Groin) leaving that game with an injury, RSL head coach Mike Petke will be doing some shuffling but has the horses. But no Rusnák hurts RSL.

Expect Johnny Russell and 2019 CONCACAF qualifiers SKC to rise to the occasion with a 1st half goal making the defense a bit easier easier to play in front of GK Tim Melia. The home crowd matters and is worth a goal here and the Under (3 -110, Bovada) may be worth consideration in another Rimando-Melia “pitcher’s duel” in Cowtown.

PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: Sporting Kansas City 2 Real Salt Lake 0

New York City FC (16-8-11) at Atlanta United FC (22-7-6)Sunday, 5 p.m. ESTFree MLS Pick: Atlanta United MLBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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With Miguel Almirón (Hamstring) back in the fold, Atlanta United blanked host NYCFC, 1-0 at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx in Leg 1 on Sunday, putting David Villa (15 goals) and the Bronx Blues behind the proverbial 8-ball as the series now heads south to Atlanta and that soccer fortress that is Mercedes-Benz Arena for Leg 2 on Sunday,

  • NYCFC have never won at ATLANTA UNITED (0-1-1, 3 GF-5 GA)
  • ATLANTA UNITED set MLS attendance record (72,243 on 7/15/2018)
  • ATLANTA UNITED 11-4-2 at Home
  • ATLANTA UNITED earned first postseason victory ever in win on Sunday

With All-Star Almirón (12 goals, 14 assists) — a finalist for the MLS MVP — Atlanta United creates so many problems offensively for other clubs that they end up having less time to try to create their own goals. Toss in attack-mate and fellow All-Star and Golden Boot winner Josef Martínez (31 goals, 10 GWG) — he of the new single-season MLS goal record — and you have a nightmare scenario for opponents.

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Leg 2 of the semifinals is set.

🗓 Sunday 11/11
📍 @MBStadium
🆚 @NYCFC
⏰ 5:00pm ET
📺 @ESPN pic.twitter.com/nIYAPzUg5o

— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) November 5, 2018
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The L6 meetings in this Eastern Conference series (NYCFC 0-1 ATL, NYCFC 0-0 ATL, NYCFC 1-1 ATL, ATL 2-2 NYCFC, ATL 3-1 NYCFC, NYCFC 3-1 ATL) show Sunday’s Leg 1 loss by NYCFC the first loss by a home side over that span (2-3-1) with 3 Draws.

Like with SKC, the site is worth a goal here with the situation — even a 0-0 scoreline would lead to the Eastern Conference Finals — and with Almirón pulling the strings, The Five Stripes so strong in the 2nd Half (of matches) and Brad Guzan in goal, this probably won’t be the year for Villa and NYCFC ... again. Take the home team.

PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: Atlanta United FC 2 NYCFC 0

Columbus Crew SC (15-10-11) at New York Red Bulls (22-7-7)Sunday, 7:30 pm ESTFree MLS Pick: UnderBest Under Line Offered: Bovada

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Bradley Wright-Phillips and the New York Red Bulls suffered a tough loss in Leg 1 at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus on Sunday, 1-0, failing to score a road goal meaning that the host Red Bulls will really have to try to score first here to avoid maximum stress. And should Gyasi Zardes, Federico Higuaín and the Crew score first and have their own road goal and a 2-0 aggregate lead at any point, expect a frenzied pace from Supporters’ Shield winner RBNY who were co-odds favorites to win the 2018 MLS Cup at some sportsbooks.

  • RBNY has only lost twice at Home (14-1-2)
  • RBNY 19-5-11 lifetime at Home vs CREW (55 GF-39 GA)
  • CREW last win at RBNY was on Oct. 19, 2014 (RBNY 1-3 CREW)

Looking at the L6 meetings in this rivalry (CREW 1-0 RBNY, CREW 0-0 RBNY, RBNY 2-3 CREW, CREW 3-2 RBNY, RBNY 2-0 CREW), we see that the Red Bulls only have one Win (1-2-3) with two straight Unders and just one goal scored in more than 180 minutes of play.

With the hosts so nervous now and trailing 1-0 on aggregate, expect a quick pace from the start, but it’s hard to see where 3 goals will come from making the Under (at 3 -140, Bovada) worth a look. Columbus knows its club is staying put in Ohio and played well at this point last season and with Zardes, have that go-to guy.

PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: Red Bulls 1 Crew 1

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