The first leg of the Conference Semifinals in the MLS Cup Playoffs start on Sunday with all eight remaining teams in action. 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 @ DC United

Game Analysis

DC United earned a huge opening round playoff win over the New England Revolution midweek and now will host the New York Red Bulls in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. They were dealt a massive blow as defender Bobby Boswell will be suspended for an off the ball incident against New England’s Juan Agudelo. That will likely move Kofi Opare into the starting lineup and leave DC United with a very inexperienced backline. Expect the dangerous Red Bulls attack of Bradley Wright-Phillips, Lloyd Sam, and Mike Grella to take advantage of that inexperience and Bobby Boswell will be missed for DC United. The Red Bulls should be able to set themselves up very nicely as they return home for the second leg in a couple weeks.

Line: New York Red Bulls (-1/2) O/U: 2 ½ (o: -125, u: -105)

Players to Watch

  • Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls ($8,700)
  • Lloyd Sam, New York Red Bulls ($6,500)
  • Fabian Espindola, DC United ($7,200)
  • Chris Rolfe, DC United ($5,700)


Vancouver Whitecaps @ Portland Timbers

Game Analysis

The Portland Timbers moved last Sporting KC midweek in one of the greatest penalty shootouts in MLS history. They now will be hosting the Vancouver Whitecaps in hopes to make a statement in the first leg of the Conference Semifinals. The Timbers have found goals from six different players over their four game win streak, so the Whitecaps can’t just focus on one person. As for Vancouver, they will need to control the midfield in order to keep the first leg close. They will have a healthy midfield with Pedro Morales and Cristian Techera returning from their late season knocks. They will also rely heavily on the counterattacking pace of Kekuta Manneh and Octavio Rivero to provide much of the threat in attack.

Line: (Pick) O/U: 2 (o: -150, u: +115)

Players to Watch

  • Kekuta Manneh, Vancouver Whitecaps ($6,300)
  • Octavio Rivero, Vancouver Whitecaps ($6,000)
  • Darlington Nagbe, Portland Timbers ($4,800)
  • Fanendo Adi, Portland Timbers ($6,900)


Columbus Crew @ Montreal Impact

Game Analysis

Montreal earned a very impressive win midweek against Toronto FC and now host the very dangerous Columbus Crew. Montreal was led by Ignacio Piatti and Didier Drogba, but it was Patrice Bernier who provided the much needed spark early in the game. Montreal won both games this season against the Crew so they will look to do the same in the first leg. Columbus are very dangerous in attack with Ethan Finlay, Federico Higuain, and Kei Kamara, but it will be their defense that will be forced to be at the top of their game on Sunday. Montreal are red hot winning their last four games, so expect them to put themselves in a good position for their trip to Columbus in a few weeks.

Line: (Pick) O/U: 2 ½ (o: -125, u: -105)

Players to Watch

  • Kei Kamara, Columbus Crew ($8,400)
  • Ethan Finlay, Columbus Crew ($5,600)
  • Ignacio Piatti, Montreal Impact ($5,800)
  • Didier Drogba, Montreal Impact ($7,900)


FC Dallas @ Seattle Sounders

Game Analysis

The Sounders impressed midweek with a very convincing win over the high powered LA Galaxy. Clint Dempsey, Erik Frieberg, and Andreas Ivanschitz all scored to take advantage of the defensive lapses by the Galaxy. Seattle now will host the top team in the Western Conference, looking to build on their brilliant performance midweek. Their home field advantage will play a huge role on Sunday as the Sounders haven’t lost to FC Dallas in their last four matchups. FC Dallas enter the playoffs red hot, winning four of their last five games. They must rely on the defense to keep this game close as FC Dallas are a much better team at home than they are when they are on the road. Expect the Sounders to control much of the game but FC Dallas should keep it close for the return leg home in late November.

Line: (Pick) O/U: 2 ½ (o: Even, u: -130)

Players to Watch

  • Fabian Castillo, FC Dallas ($6,800)
  • Mauro Diaz, FC Dallas ($7,000)
  • Clint Dempsey, Seattle Sounders ($7,400)
  • Andreas Ivanschitz, Seattle Sounders ($3,800)