Football – or in this case, soccer – season is nearing its end in the USA as the playoffs begin this weekend. The regular season finished just before the international break, with seven of the best teams in each conference, western and eastern, reaching the playoffs. After 34 games per team in the regular season, the best team was Los Angeles FC with 72 points. In the East, the pole position was captured by New York City. Winning the conference means that those two teams will head straight into the quarterfinals, while the 12 remaining teams will play in the 1st knockout stage.
The MLS has been a surprising series throughout its existence and there’s been eight different winners in the past ten seasons. The biggest favorites in this year’s playoffs are the regular season powerhouses Los Angeles FC and New York City. Western Conference winners and this season’s sensation Los Angeles FC is not filled with big name players, like so many MLS teams usually are, but they took the regular season by storm. Scoring 85 goals in 34 games is astonishing, but allowing only 37 at the same time in a very high-scoring league is even more impressive. Mexican forward, former Arsenal fringe player Carlos Vela won the goal-scoring race with 34 goals (and 15 assists) just ahead of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who tallied up 30 goals.
Challenging LA FC is New York City FC, affiliated with English Premier League outfit Manchester City. Funnily enough, NYC FC has had a habit of acquiring big European football names such as David Villa, but never won the championship despite their strong team. Now, after letting go of Villa the team is performing better than ever and looking like a real challenger to LA FC.
Last season’s winners, Atlanta United, came in second in the Eastern Conference, but was not too convincing losing 12 games – double the amount of NYC FC. They shouldn’t be underestimated though, as Frank de Boer has the team playing run-and-gun style football, which helped Josef Martinez score 27 goals in the regular season. In the West, the first challenger for LA FC is Seattle Sounders, boasting a very balanced squad and a disciplined playing system under the guidance of Brian Schmetzer.
MLS playoffs are always a surprising event and while the favorites seem to be unbeatable at the moment, the underdogs might have some aces up their sleeves in this sort of short knockout tournament.
You can bet on all the MLS Playoffs games at Dafabet, starting now!
Atlanta United vs New England Revolution (1×2): 1.51 – 4.40 – 5.30
Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas (1×2): 1.80 – 3.45 – 4.30
Toronto FC vs DC United (1×2): 1.53 – 4.00 – 5.80
Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers (1×2): 2.16 – 3.15 – 3-35