MLS Cup Playoffs 2017: Conference Finals

MLS Preview

Columbus Crew vs Toronto FC

MAPFRE Stadium – Tuesday 21st November 2017 – 20:00 ET (01:00 GMT)

The Audi 2017 MLS Playoffs return this week after the international break, with the first legs of the Conference Finals. This fixture see’s one of the favourites from the start in Toronto, go up against a Columbus Crew side who have been considered underdogs throughout. If you fancy having a flutter on the outcome, take a look at William Hill’s Major League Soccer betting page here.

The biggest talking point coming into this game is the suspension of arguably Toronto’s best two players in Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco. The former, stupidly picking up a red for the bust-up in the tunnel after their last fixture against New York Red Bulls. Toronto has been praised for their strength in depth this season, but this will be a huge test for the Canadian side, missing two integral parts of the squad as they chase a famous treble.

Hosts for the first leg, Columbus Crew, shocked many with their 4-1 demolishing of NYCFC in the Conference semi-final first leg. Their recent form has been impressive, a stark contrast to all their off-field problems surrounding their impending move in 2019. Zack Steffen has been impressive recently and with 18 goal Ola Kamara leading the line, Columbus will be looking to take advantage of being at home and Toronto’s star striker shortage before the return fixture.

The two sides have met 3 times already this season. Columbus won the first game 2-1 at the MAPFRE Stadium. They then met twice within just over a fortnight. Toronto winning the first game 2-1, before winning the second game at a canter with a 5-0 win at BMO Field back in May.

Houston Dynamo vs Seattle Sounders

BBVA Compass Stadium – Tuesday 21st November 2017 – 22:00 CT (03:00 GMT)

Seattle Sounders look to continue their charge towards back-to-back MLS Cup triumphs, coming up against a fearless Houston side who have surprised many to reach this stage of the competition.

The international break has been a huge benefit to The Sounders, giving veterans and injured players time to get closer to match fitness. They have been in good form leading up to the break, with many expecting them to dispatch Houston over the two legs and set up a repeat of last year with a tasty final against Toronto FC. Osvaldo Alonso and Jordan Morris are not available for the first leg due to injury, but Sounders will be hoping for them to take part in the return fixture, giving them a significant boost.

Houston have been playing without fear and expectation. The surprise dispatching of Portland in the last round has seen Wilmer Cabrera’s side grow in confidence. The international break has been less kind to Houston though, with Honduran internationals Alberth Elis, Romell Quioto and Boniek Garcia all travelling back from a gruelling World Cup Qualifier with Australia. The 3 men are also one yellow card away from missing the return fixture. Certainly something Cabrera could do without, considering the huge attacking influence Quioto and Elis have on the side.

Houston boasts an impressive home record, one of the best from the regular season. Combine that with the fact that Seattle have never won in Houston, this fixture certainly will be a tale of two legs.