New York City FC v Philadelphia Union (Wed 31st October)

New York City FC have a terrible playoff record and have never managed to progress beyond any round in the whole of their history. This is a team usually known for choking at this stage, although in the past it’s been over two legs and facing quality teams. This is easily their best chance to ever win a playoff match. Without intending too much disrespect to Philadelphia Union, they are a far easier opponent than the likes of Atlanta, Red Bulls or DC United. Whether or not NYCFC can go on a deep playoff run I’m not convinced, but they are deserving favourites around the 1.80 to prevail here inside 90 mins. As with all other matches in this wildcard round, it’s a ‘one-off fixture’ which could potentially go to extra time or penalties in order to settle affairs.

See also: Real Madrid’s Mariano Díaz.

It’s quite apt that Philly are here in the wildcard round because they are very much a wildcard sort of team, capable of anything. Their season record of 15 wins, 14 defeats and 5 draws rather sums this team up. They are extremely dangerous on their day but I have always sensed that they often fall short when facing top quality opposition. It’s a shame for the Union that speedster in attack David Accam is injured and probably wouldn’t feature for them in the playoffs even if they made it all the way to the final. That said, Accam’s influence on the team became less as the season went on – others have stepped up such as Cory Burke and Fafa Picault. Of course, their key man remains playmaker  Borek Dockal who regularly supplies many assists and can also chip in with the odd goal.

These two teams met at the weekend and that game was effectively a dress rehearsal. For New York City it was a welcome victory and a much-improved performance compared to recent times in which they have spiraled downwards somewhat. I am of the opinion that City will win this game, but I’m not in a rush to back them on a -0.5 or -0.75 Asian Handicap. Everyone knows of their terrible playoff record and it would be of no surprise if it reared its ugly head again here. My preferred pick for the game is over 3 goals. I just see this being a wide-open encounter in which both teams will properly go for it. Neither team is a stranger to a high scoring game and although NYC had a period a few weeks ago when they were missing loads of chances, it seems like recently the goals have flowed more. There is enough attacking talent on both sides for this over to cover.

Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 3.00 goals at 2.000

DC United v Columbus Crew (Thurs 1st Nov)

You’ll do well to find a team in better form heading into the playoffs than DC United. They are unbeaten in 10 games, with 7 victories during that period, such a fantastic run which has propelled them into the postseason. I think ultimately in the long run burnout and fatigue could be a factor for this team due to the high amount of matches they’ve had to fit into a hectic schedule since early September, but for now, you have to respect their form and momentum. It is worth mentioning the crazy amount of home games DCU have had since the summer and in total they’ve only been on the road 4 times since 26th July. This definitely could be a problem later in the playoffs but that isn’t something to consider ahead of this fixture.

Just to let everyone know the format of this match. It is a ‘one off’ playoff wildcard affair hosted by DC United and if the scores are level after 90 mins then we’ll have an extra time period, potentially followed by penalties. Funnily enough, the Crew were in the exact same position last season when nobody gave them a chance heading into Atlanta but on that occasion, they managed to prevail on penalties after a 0-0 draw. Maybe this will be their target again here because on the road this season the Crew have scored less goals (11) than any other team in the whole of MLS – including the likes of woeful Colorado, Orlando and San Jose. At least defensively they’ve been quite secure but Columbus seems to have stumbled into the playoffs with just 2 wins in their last 7 – which only came facing Colorado and Minnesota which is hardly great form.

Is it just me, but do DC United look an absolutely massive price to win this game? Yes, this is a playoff encounter which will add to nerves, tension and drama but I am staggered you can get on the hosts at around the 2.25 mark outright. Has everyone seen the home form of United in the last few months? It’s been outrageously good and I expect that to continue here. United have classy players like Wayne Rooney, Yamil Asad, and Luciano Acosta to fall back upon and this trio have looked irresistible of late. Columbus do of course have great playoff experience and historically can never be written off. But I don’t have a great vibe about them heading into this particular postseason. Most of their better form was earlier on in 2018 and it’s almost been a case of them stumbling over the line of late. Taking United on a -0.25 Asian Handicap looks terrific value and probably the best bet of this whole wildcard round.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: DC United -0.25 at 1.980

Preview by: @meatmansoccer.

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