By: Christopher Smith (@WannabeaCPA) and Rex Eastwood (@REast_Eazy)
Fourteen teams entered the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs and only four have survived. The Brkdwn’s top two soccer analysts, Rex and Chris, break down the final matchups before the final match on November 10, 2019. Read below to see what we think will happen in the finals and reach out and discuss with us what your thoughts and opinions are.
Seattle @ LAFC –October 29, 2019 – ESPN, TSN, & TVAS
Chris – LAFC
LAFC finally overcame their intown rivals last Thursday night with a 5-3 victory over the LA Galaxy. LAFC has been the best team in MLS the whole season. They have had a few hiccups along the way, but for the most part they’ve been effective at creating goals. Their defense has been has had issues in some matches, but LAFC has come into the playoffs looking to win it all with their talents. It will be hard for me to see LAFC lose to Seattle. Seattle hasn’t been a bad squad this year either but I envision them struggling to convert opportunities on the road.. When these two squads met this year LAFC won the first round at home 4-1, while they drew 2-2 the second match. I can’t see a scenario where LAFC blows this game at home and their fans still riding the high of defeated the LA Galaxy.
Rex – Sounders
Seattle has the necessary midfield and strikers to press LAFC. Squads that apply pressure to their backline end up with plenty of scoring opportunities. Add on the MLS Playoff experience these players have and you have the recipe for what it takes to win on the road. Walker Zimmerman is not fully healthy and that makes shouldering the load he already has to do that much more taxing. All the pressure is on LAFC so Seattle is playing with house money.
Jordan Morris has gone leaps and bounds over his MLS Comeback Player of the Year playing caliber. Teams have yet to find an answer to stop him. Lodeiro and Roland have manned the middle and created turnovers leading to his chances on the wing. That is key in breaking down LAFC’s rocket attack. They are vulnerable to the counterattack, so the Sounders will need to take advantage. Ruidiaz is another threat they possess too. None of these players will be taken back by the moment or the crowd.
Expect the Sounders to play a defensive minded game and be ready to pounce on the counterattack.
Toronto @ Atlanta – October 30, 2019 – FS1, TSN, & TVAS
Chris – Toronto
With my pick I’m going against the trend of Atlanta winning at home. This matchup has the 2017 MLS Cup winner, Toronto FC, facing off against the 2018 Cup winner. There should be plenty of fireworks from both sides in this one. Toronto is coming into this matchup with a big win over NYCFC where they defeated them 2-1. During the regular season these two teams split their meetings with the home team winning both.. During their meeting in Toronto, Alejandro Pozuelo played as a false nine and gave Atlanta fits. He would find pockets in their defense and would help them win that matchup. Toronto ran that same script during the first half of the NYCFC match. Toronto will win this matchup on the backs of their experienced squad. Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley will help this squad overcome The Five Stripes at home, ending their domination at home, and killing their season.
Rex – Atlanta
Toronto is living up to the “next man up mantra”. The False 9 with Pozuelo has produced seven goals through two games. The, let’s call it “courage”, it took to do his signature penalty kick in stoppage to win was incredible. Will it produce against a defense that has 18 shutouts on the season?
On the road, Toronto’s luck will finally run out. They have had the upper hand by scoring first in both games. This will prove to be more difficult against an Atlanta offense. Josef Martinez leads a potent attack along side Barco, Pity and Gressel. The talent and chances will prove to be too much. ATL should find the lead in the first and no team has been able to mount a comeback yet. Until an opposing side wins in Atlanta, I will continue backing them. They are proven winners going for a fourth straight trophy.
Even if Jozy Altidore returns, how match fit will he be? The injury has held him out of two matches and he would have suited up if available. Josef, the Goal King, should feast against this banged up defense.
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