The Conference Championship games start on Sunday with the first legs in Columbus and Portland. Both #1 seeds are still looking strong, but they must succeed on the road if they want to ensure a spot in the Audi MLS Cup Finals. As we look at today’s MLS Game Breakdown I will be analyzing some injury concerns and look for potential breakout players. Also follow me on Twitter (@jwl_15) for injury and lineup updates throughout the day.
New York Red Bulls @ Columbus Crew
The first leg of the Eastern Conference Finals begins at 5:00 PM on Sunday and is primed to be a great matchup. The last five games between these teams have gone back and forth, with the Red Bulls winning three of the five. In the Crew’s last home game, they stormed back from a 2-1 deficit to beat Montreal 4-3 on aggregate. Gaston Sauro will be suspended for Sunday’s game and Tony Tchani is questionable with a leg injury although he is expected to play. As for the Red Bulls, they are very healthy and have no suspensions to worry about right now, although Matt Miazga, Ronald Zubar, Bradley Wright-Phillips, and Sacha Kljestan are one yellow card away. The loss of Sauro for Sunday’s game may be costly for Columbus in defense, but their dangerous attack should be able to put them in a good position before they head to New York for the second leg.
Line: (Pick) O/U: 2 ½ (o: -125, u: -105)
Players to Watch
- Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls ($8,300)
- Lloyd Sam, New York Red Bulls ($6,200)
- Kei Kamara, Columbus Crew ($8,400)
- Ethan Finlay, Columbus Crew ($6,000)
FC Dallas @ Portland Timbers
Portland has been the surprise of the MLS playoffs, beating both Sporting KC and the Vancouver Whitecaps to advance to the Western Conference Finals. They will start this first leg in Portland, but will be greatly shorthanded with both Diego Valeri and Rodney Wallace out due to suspension. As for FC Dallas, they do not have any suspensions or injuries that will impact Sunday’s game. The young FC Dallas team have been dominate as of late and hopefully the Fabian Castillo transfer rumors won’t distract the team moving forward. Timber’s Army will play a role on Sunday, but the suspensions to Portland’s starting eleven will hurt their chances against FC Dallas.
Line: (Pick) O/U: 2 ½ (o: -105, u: -120)
Players to Watch
- Fabian Castillo, FC Dallas ($6,900)
- Mauro Diaz, FC Dallas ($7,300)
- Fanendo Adi, Portland Timbers ($6,700)
- Alvas Powell, Portland Timbers ($4,200)