Almost two weeks have passed between decision day and the start of the playoffs on Friday with the Eastern Conference play-in round, but it seems like a layoff a lot longer because most of the regular season competitions were held at a rapid pace

The Philadelphia Union Fan Shield winners are the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, while Sporting Kansas City are at the top of the Western Conference

The top seeds haven’t seen much playoff success in the past decade A year ago, none of the top seeds qualified for the MLS Cup and since 2010 the LA Galaxy 2011 and Toronto FC 2017 are the only seeds to qualify for the MLS Cup

While the regular season is a showcase for the best teams in the league, the playoffs are more a reflection of the best-equipped team for unique 90- or 120-minute games.

The first round of games kicks off Saturday afternoon, with Orlando City SC hosting New York City FC

Columbus Crew and New York Red Bulls are following this game, three games will be played on Sunday and three more will be on Tuesday

Orlando City’s first-ever playoff game comes against a team he has been linked with since joining MLS

While the Lions have lingered deep in the Eastern Conference since their first MLS season in 2015, the NYCFC has established themselves as one of the top clubs in the East.

Hiring manager Oscar Pareja has been one of the league’s best offseason decisions, and he’s taken Orlando into uncharted territory

Orlando’s offensive lineup, led by Nani, has a few young league stars in Chris Mueller and Daryl Dike, while frontline NYCFC stars fly under the radar

Maxi Moralez, Valentin Castellanos and Jesus Medina form one of MLS’s most underrated attacks, totaling 12 goals and nine assists this season

They have arguably the best defensive midfielder in the league and behind them at Alexander Ring and Anton Tinnerholm

Orlando takes the lead with Peruvian international Pedro Gallese, who made 52 saves and 20 goals against in the regular season

He could be busy in the net on Saturday afternoon Castellanos led MLS in penalties with 34 and Moralez is one year away from the league title

When the Columbus Crew left the MLS is Back tournament, they were considered the favorite to land the No 1 seed in the East

A drop in form combined with injuries to some key players forced the Crew to fall third under Philadelphia and Toronto

Falling to third place means the crew will face a tougher opponent in the first round, and an opponent entering the playoffs in a unique situation, even for a league that thrives on the unexpected

Gerhard Struber to coach his first game for the New York Red Bulls on Saturday The former Barnsley manager was hired on October 6, but saw the team from afar while Bradley Carnell took over Chris on an interim basis Armas fired

In a way, the two week hiatus gave Struber enough time to implement his style on the Red Bulls compared to if the game took place a few days after decision day.

However, the situation remains delicate to manage and could either be a success or cause the crew to outdo the new Red Bulls

Even if the Red Bulls come out with a punch, the crew can still gain an advantage thanks to newcomer of the year Lucas Zelarayan and always reliable Gyasi Zardes, whose 12 regular-season goals are tied. second in MLS

If Zelarayan and Zardes are active in the final third, they should give the crew an edge to advance to the conference semifinals

At one point, the San Jose earthquakes were considered one of the worst teams in MLS as they lost to Portland and Colorado by a combined 11-1 in two games in September.

The Quakes miraculously recovered from poor form with a three-game winning streak, then closed the regular season with three wins and a draw in six games

Matias Almeyda’s men could pose a challenge to Sporting Kansas City, which has been one of the most consistent franchises in the Western Conference

Peter Vermes is one of MLS’s most experienced managers and his team will be more than prepared to deal with the pressure of the San Jose men’s scoring system

The key to Sporting KC’s success should be Gadi Kinda, who flew under the radar as one of the best additions of the offseason. The midfielder is important in both aspects of the game and could be the key to absorb the pressure of San Jose

Sporting KC have three wins in their last four games with San Jose Both teams have scored in all four competitions and at least five goals have been scored in three of them

Robin Fraser’s squad have been shut down due to positive COVID-19 tests for almost a month and have had to fight for a playoff spot in recent games

Colorado benefited from points per game used to determine playoff standings It won 28 points in 18 regular season games, the lowest in the league Had the West’s top eight been determined by the total points, the Rapids would have been the eighth seed

Minnesota United recently controlled games with the Rapids at home The Loons won business at Allianz Field in 2019 and 2020 They also won a 2-2 draw with Colorado on July 22 in the MLS is Back tournament

Adrian Heath’s side took the No. 4 seed in the West by winning three of their last four games, which were part of an eight-game unbeaten streak

In the four wins in that span, the Loons have scored multiple goals on three occasions They have also produced five clean sheets in the last eight games

While Colorado history is good, Minnesota are the better team and should control the game with their defense

Portland is one of two teams that can win their second trophy of 2020 by hoisting the MLS Cup

The MLS champion returns through a tough regional schedule in the Western Conference to take third place behind Sporting KC and Seattle

The Timbers have an exhausted offense due to late-season injuries to Sebastian Blanco and Jaroslaw Niezgoda, but they still have Diego Valeri and Jeremy Ebobisse in the lead

Giovanni Savarese’s side stumbled on arrival with a loss to Colorado and a draw with LAFC FC Dallas experienced a similar disappointment on decision day in a 3-0 loss to the Minnesota

Portland should be the pick based on their previous tournament experience and their 5-4-2 home record The Timbers become an even more attractive choice when you look at the meager 1-5-3 road record of the FC Dallas

Toronto FC and Nashville SC will meet for the first time ever to start the night in East Hartford, Connecticut

The Reds are the established powerhouse in the East with three MLS Cup appearances in the past four years, all against the Seattle Sounders

Most Valuable Player Favorite Alejandro Pozuelo is one of many players on the TFC side with countless playoff experience

If Pozuelo, Marky Delgado and Jonathan Osorio control the midfield battle, as they have in many previous playoff games, the Reds should move on to the expansion side

Nashville has been one of the biggest surprises of 2020 The freshman team has made smart acquisitions, landing defenseman of the year Walker Zimmerman and midfielder Dax McCarty, who scored one three goals Friday night against Inter Miami

Zimmerman and McCarty must perform massive performances through Nashville’s spine to pull off an upheaval

Gary Smith’s side might have an advantage coming in on Tuesday with a playoff game under their belt, but beating one of the more experienced playoff teams remains a tough task

Philadelphia and New England face off for the sixth time in 2020 on Tuesday night

The first meeting was in the knockout stages of the MLS is Back tournament, then they played four more times in the regular season, including on decision day

The Union have four wins and one draw in these contests and enter the playoffs with a home record of 9-0-0

Philadelphia’s last three wins against New England have come by two goals or less, and two of those results came with Carles Gil out of the roster due to injury

With Gil in good health and improving his chemistry on the pitch with Gustavo Bou, the Revs have an outside chance of getting by

Mark McKenzie and Jakob Glesnes became one of the best center-backs in the league for a Philadelphia team that conceded 20 goals in the regular season

However, the familiarity of New England forwards with the tendencies of Union defenders could help them shatter them in a few attacks. The Revs will also need to keep an eye out for Brenden Aaronson.The 20-year-old attacking midfielder finished the regular season with four goals and seven assists as the centerpiece of the league’s most scoring offense, enough to earn him a place in the MLS Best XI

At some point New England will beat Philadelphia, and with the top seeds generally not doing well in the MLS Cup playoffs, this is the game where the upset could come.

The first round final had the makings of a Western Conference final until the reality of our current world hit

LAFC to miss four players Tuesday night due to positive COVID-19 tests Golden Shoe winner Diego Rossi and Brian Rodriguez, who is considered one of MLS’s top young forwards, will both miss the game after testing positive while in international service with Uruguay Jose Cifentues and Diego Palacios will also miss the game

This leaves Black-and-Gold at a disadvantage against a full-powered Sounders attack with Raul Ruidiaz and Jordan Morris in the fold

If Ruidiaz, Morris and Nicolas Lodeiro cause trouble for the LAFC defense, the visitors may not have enough firepower to keep pace

But don’t feel too bad for LAFC as Carlos Vela should still be in the lineup, along with MLS legend Bradley Wright-Phillips

However, there is a smaller margin of error for LAFC’s attack as they cannot have a revolving door of world-class talent at the top

In the last four meetings between the two clubs, the winner has scored at least three goals

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World News – United States – 2020 MLS Playoffs: First Round Odds and Predictions

Source: https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2919057-mls-playoffs-2020-first-round-odds-and-predictions