The Major League Soccer playoffs get underway this weekend, with four of the six first-round matchups taking place. There are two games on Saturday, and two more on Sunday, with all eight teams no doubt feeling as if they have a chance to make a run to the MLS Cup.
Best MLS Games to Watch and Wager On the Week (Nov. 20th – 21st)
New York Red Bulls vs Philadelphia Union
The Red Bulls barely sneaked into the playoffs as the no. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. But they finished the season strong, which is why they are only modest road underdogs at +235 compared to Philadelphia’s moneyline of +109.
It also makes sense because these two teams met three times, playing to a 1-1 draw twice while the Union won the first meeting of the season back in mid-May.
While the Red Bulls aren’t the most potent offensive team, they tied for the fewest goals conceded in MLS this season. Over their final 12 games of the season, the Red Bulls allowed one goal or less, giving up just five total goals during that stretch.
That will help NYRB stay in the game against the Union, which doesn’t have a ton of game-winners outside of Kacper Przybylko, who led the team with 12 goals this season.
Vancouver White Caps vs Sporting Kansas City
The Western Conference playoffs will get started with a showdown between the Vancouver Whitecaps and Sporting Kansas City. At home, Sporting KC is heavily favored with a -147 moneyline compared to Vancouver’s moneyline of +350.
The Whitecaps got the better of the Wizards a month ago, winning 2-1. However, Kansas City won 3-0 when hosting Vancouver earlier in the season. With Brian White coming alive late in the season, the Whitecaps were unbeaten in their final six matches of the season. The caveat is they only had two wins during that stretch.
They’ll likely need to kick it into another gear against the Wizards, who had two players with 15 or more goals this season, finishing with the second-most goals in MLS. The only caveat is that Sporting KC lost three in a row to finish the season, getting outscored 6-2, perhaps making Vancouver an intriguing underdog.
Atlanta United FC vs New York City FC
Sunday’s games start with Atlanta making the trip North to face NYCFC. The teams played to a 1-1 draw last month, with NYCFC winning earlier in the season when hosting Atlanta.
Keep in mind that Atlanta ended the season on a six-match unbeaten run, which is why it’s a little surprising to see them as such heavy underdogs at +360 compared to NYCFC at -149. Of course, New York City won three of four games to close out the regular season.
The Pigeons also have Golden Boot winner Valentin Castellanos, who led the league with 19 goals this season and could be a difference-maker in the playoffs.
Minnesota United FC vs Portland Timbers
The weekend concludes with Minnesota United making the trip to play the Portland Timbers. The home team is favored at -103 in this game, with Minnesota’s moneyline set at +240. Despite being the underdog in this game, the Loons won both head-to-head meetings with the Timbers this season.
That should give them some confidence despite an uneven finish to the season.
Also, the Loons don’t have a player who reached ten goals during the regular season, so finishing chances in the playoffs is a concern. Plus, one goal might not be enough against the third-best attack in MLS and a team that finished the season with eight goals in three matches.