DC United v Montreal Impact – Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium at 00:30 live on Sky Sports 2
DC United preview
The capital club have lost just two games since the end of July and head into the playoffs having won 4 of their last 5 fixtures. The defeat at Orlando on Sunday almost doesn’t count either because they rested and rotated a lot of players. Coach Ben Olsen has a few selection dilemmas because the squad is in a very healthy condition. Does he keep faith with the side which has been winning games recently? Or bring back some of his supposed better players who have been out? One thing is for sure, red hot striker Patrick Mullins will be starting upfront and he’s been in lethal form since arriving from NYCFC in the summer. I haven’t seen a United team look so threatening going forwards for a long time. This isn’t your typical traditional DCU lineup that relies on defence, they are now capable of outscoring anyone. Confidence is high and I fully expect the hosts to be on the front foot right from the off in positive fashion.
Montreal Impact preview
All the talk ahead of this fixture regarding Montreal is that star striker Didier Drogba won’t play. He recently refused to be part of the bench when he was dropped from the starting XI and seems to have gotten the hump with the team. Officially, he’s ruled out with a back problem but it’s obvious that other factors are at work. Montreal should otherwise be close to full strength. The Impact got easily beaten 3-0 by New England at the weekend. But fielded a second string side so all of their most important players should be fresh and ready for action here. Montreal haven’t been in brilliant knick ahead of the game, but haven’t been that bad either. They certainly don’t enter the playoffs with as much momentum as they had this time last year anyway. The big question is how much of a distraction this Didier Drogba situation is going to be. There’s every chance it might actually make everyone want to prove a point and bring them together as a team, but for sure there’s plenty of uncertainty.
Conclusion & betting analysis
DC United are a popular selection to win this match. They have been backed down as low as 1.90 on a -0.5 Asian handicap. I do agree they are the most likely team to win the game. But these odds feel a little bit short because I don’t think there’s a massive difference between the two teams. Montreal might be missing Didier Drogba but I’m sure the coach has challenged his attack force that they can cope without him. The Impact have enough attacking quality and pace to make them competitive here. Incredibly, the last nine DC United games have all ended over 2.5 goals. Most of those fixtures have contained an abundance of chances and United seem to really suck sides into shootouts at the moment. Montreal will more than happily fight fire with fire and I think backing over 2.75 goals makes some sense here. Unless for some reason the playoff environment moves each side into its shell, then this over should cover. I think it will be a close and balanced contest, perhaps even going the distance into extra time after a high scoring draw.
Asian Handicap Recommendation: Over 2.75 goals at 2.03
Seattle Sounders v Sporting Kansas City – CenturyLink Field at 03:00 live on Sky Sports 2
The Sounders have been one of the hottest teams in MLS since the midway point of the season. From the point when Sigi Schmid got sacked and Brian Schmetzer took over, they’ve only lost 2 of out of 14 games so their form is clear to see. There’s absolutely no doubt that this team has every chance of making a deep playoff run. The Sounder’s biggest weapon is designated player Nicolas Lodeiro who’s been fantastic since his arrival on the scene. Their good form has coincided with him transferring to the club. He really pulls the strings in a creative role. It’s a blow that Clint Dempsey is ruled out for the rest of the season but he’s been missing for quite some time now and wasn’t enjoying the greatest of campaigns anyway. It looks like left winger Ivanschitz won’t feature due to injury, whilst centre back Brad Evans has been nursing a number of problems recently and will probably only feature on the bench. Seattle are unbeaten at home under Schmetzer and kept clean sheets in 3 of their last 4 at Centurylink field.
Sporting Kansas City preview
SKC got knocked out of the playoffs at this stage last season in that incredible penalty shootout against Portland Timbers. They will hope to make further progress this year but they once again face a really tough task away against an in-form team. SKC themselves aren’t in bad knick having only lost 1 of their last 6 games. I just don’t personally feel like they are playing brilliantly well though. They definitely have some deficiencies, especially away from home. Peter Vermes’ men won their first two road games of the season but have since only registered a sole victory which came at San Jose who didn’t even make the playoffs. For this match, wide duo Jacob Peterson & Brad Davis are rated doubtful because of injury. Bench striker Diego Rubio is ruled out for the rest of the season so SKC are kind of lacking options in the final third. A lot will rest on the shoulders of Dom Dwyer who has netted 16 times in MLS this season. He’s the big threat upfront but also has a habit of wasting good chances.
Conclusion & betting analysis
This is an interesting clash between two teams in fairly good knick. Seattle are definitely more ‘hot’ and with home advantage are deserving favourites. SKC won here on the opening day of the season but it’s a different story now. Seattle are playing much better and look like a team who could go deep into the playoffs. The weather forecast isn’t great for the match and this might not be as open as some teams expect. The goal line is set roughly at 2.25 and in this instance I’m not going to argue with that. Seattle have won 2 of their last 3 games by a 1-0 scoreline at home and I’m anticipating something similar. With someone like Nicolas Lodeiro in their ranks the Sounders have that extra bit of class and a potential difference maker. I feel that Seattle have the more consistent and reliable defence too, which can come up big if required. The hosts can be backed as big as 1.99 on a -0.5 Asian handicap but my preferred pick is to play it safe and back Seattle on a -0.25 Asian line. There’s a chance this could get tight and maybe go the distance right into extra time. So I prefer some draw cover but overall I think we’ll see the Sounders edge the game something like 1-0 or 2-0.
Asian Handicap Recommendation: Seattle Sounders -0.25 at 1.72
Prices correct at time of writing.
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