- It’s conference semifinal time in the MLS
- Seattle favorites to beat RSL after thriller in Round One
- Home advantage key for the Sounders
After a breathless weekend of playoff soccer, the MLS Cup Playoffs Conference Semifinal line-up is now confirmed, and in the west, the first of the two semis sees Real Salt Lake visit Seattle Sounders on October 23, at 10:00 pm EST.
Both teams needed late drama to secure their semifinal slot but who looks most likely to make it to the Western Conference final? We’ll take a look and see if we can identify some value for the bettors.
Seattle Sounders vs Real Salt Lake Odds
|Team||Spread||Moneyline||Total||Odds to Win MLS Cup|
|Seattle Sounders||-0.5 (-140)||-145||O 2.5 (-140)||+900|
|Real Salt Lake||+0.5 (+115)||+375||U 2.5 (+110)||+1600|
All odds taken on October 21, 2019.
Seattle made it to their conference semifinal in the most thrilling fashion possible, in a game that has been described as one of the most exciting MLS playoff games in the league’s history.
It needed extra-time, but after 120 minutes of soccer, they finally found a way past a Dallas team that took them all the way in a 4-3 thriller.
Thriller in Dallas
Raúl Ruidíaz opened the scoring for Seattle in the 18th-minute and four minutes later it was 2-0 when Jordan Morris scored what would end up being the first goal of his hat-trick. Reggie Cannon pulled one back for Dallas on 39 minutes to send the sides in 2-1 at halftime with the game finally balanced.
Matt Hedges pulled the Texans level on 64′ before Morris struck again on 74′ to nudge the Sounders ahead again, but Dallas were not to be denied and an 82nd-minute strike from Bryan Acosta took the game into extra-time. With just seven minutes of extra-time remaining, Seattle finally secured their route through the conference semifinal when Morris headed in a deflected shot for his third of the match.
RSL Edge Out Portland
In the other first-round playoff, Real Salt Lake and Portland locked horns in another pulsating encounter that could easily have gone either way.
It was RSL who took the lead in the 28th-minute through Damir Kreilach, when he nodded in an inviting cross. RSL were still leading at the interval but Portland struck back just two minutes into the second half when Dairon Asprilla rose highest in the box to head home Sebastian Blanco’s arching corner. The game toed and froed like a classic cup-tie until the 87th when Jefferson Savarino slid in the winner after Portland were slow to react to a through ball in their box.
Seattle and Real Salt Lake have met twice in the regular season, with both teams winning on home soil – Seattle winning 1-0 back in April at CenturyLink Field, courtesy of a Nicolás Lodeiro goal, and RSL winning the return fixture at the Rio Tinto with a thumping 3-0 scoreline. On that basis, it’s advantage Seattle, as this match will be played there.
Fatigue an Issue in Semi
While both teams come into this one off the back of the aforementioned thrilling first-round playoffs, this one may well be a more cautious affair. With the quick turnaround from the weekend, the physical and mental toll may well have an impact, especially for the Sounders who have clocked up plenty of air miles over the last few days.
What Seattle won’t want to do is fall behind early on as to chase a game when fatigue is a struggle. They’ll be hoping for an early goal – no question. On the flip side, no-one likes visiting CenturyLink Field and one thing RSL are guaranteed is a hostile reception from the home crowd. Like the Sounders, RSL will be desperate for an early goal to quiet the crowd.
Much will depend on how tight Seattle can keep it in defense. This is an area in which they have been inconsistent over the course of the season, and they have been susceptible to individual errors that have proven costly.
|16 / 34||Number of wins / Games played||16 / 34|
|10||Number of losses||13|
|8||Number of draws||5|
|426 / 144||Total shots / Shots on target||428 / 158|
|4-1 (vs Cincinnati)||Biggest win||4-0 (vs Philadelphia)|
|4-1 (vs LAFC)||Heaviest loss||5-0 (vs DC United)|
In order to make it to the conference final, Real will need to make the most of any chances that may come their way – I don’t expect them to get too many. The Sounders do, however, have two clean sheets near the end of the regular season to build on but they will have to look at how and why they conceded three against Dallas.
If they can find the energy, avoid conceding an early goal, and not give away any cheap goals, a place for them in the Western Conference Final awaits. For RSL the opposite applies – an early goal is a must if they are to earn a final place.
This won’t be the thriller some are expecting after Round One the playoffs, but it will be tight and nervy and may hinge on a piece of luck or an individual error. And don’t rule out another late winner.
My pick: Seattle to win 2-1