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MLS playoffs: towards the aces

There were 27 clubs at the start of the MLS season, now there are only seven.

After the Western Association semi-final between the Portland Timbers and the Colorado Rapids, which Portland won on Thursday, we now move on to the other three semi-finals that will determine the players in the two Association finals.

The first of those three clashes will take place Sunday afternoon in Kansas City where Sporting (3e, 58 pts) will host Real Salt Lake (7e, 48 pts) in a remake of the 2013 final.

It’s already a little miracle that Salt Lake is still alive as the Utah team defeated the Seattle Sounders in the first-round shootout.

In addition, Real accomplished the feat of winning by not having obtained any shot. And no, we’re not just talking about shots on target. There was no attempted shooting. It is a return of karma for Seattle who had defeated Toronto FC in the final in 2016 without having framed a single shot.

Everything to lose

A few days earlier, Kansas City easily dismissed the Vancouver Whitecaps, a team that can be considered more tenacious.

There is a great rivalry between these two clubs and their last playoff date was in 2018 when Kansas City won in the Association semifinals.

Oddly, Salt Lake has won on their last two visits to Kansas, but that doesn’t mean they can claim a hat trick. Kansas City has lost just three times at home this season and allowed an average of one goal per game against 1.88 goals scored.

What’s more, Salt Lake catalyst Albert Rusnak missed the game in Seattle due to COVID-19. So will he be in uniform? And if so, in what condition?

Trench warfare

In the other game on Sunday, the Philadelphia Union (2e, 54 pts) will receive the Nashville SC (3e, 54 pts) and we can expect a real trench warfare.

Despite posting the same points, Philadelphia finished ahead with two more wins, but Nashville is the MLS team with the fewest losses this season with four, compared to Philadelphia’s eight.

We are dealing with two excellent defenses. Nashville finished first in the league with 33 goals against, on a par with the New York Red Bulls and Seattle Sounders. Philly is second at 35, tied with Colorado.

It is in the middle of the field that this confrontation is likely to be resolved since the two teams play a very tight game there.

Nashville’s game revolves around Hany Mukhtar, scoring two first-round goals against Orlando. If Philadelphia contains it, the Union clearly improves its chances of winning.

As for Nashville, in addition to having to beat excellent goaltender Andre Blake, they will also have to put a cover on forward Kacper Przybylko and it will not be an easy task.

Of the attack

The last duel will finally oppose New York City FC (4e, 51 pts) at the New England Revolution (1er, 73 pts), at Gillette Stadium.

New York relatively easily dismissed Atlanta in the first round, but will have its hands full with the best team in MLS this season and especially the best attack (65 goals).

In the New England camp, we breathe confidence and we are rested at will. There is also an impact trio in attack with Gustavo Bou, Carles Gil and Adam Buska, enough to thrill most MLS defenses.

Between them, they have scored 35 goals. In addition, Gil was the top passer in MLS with 18 assists.

Against them, New York City will launch into the scrum Valentin Castellanos, top scorer of the season with 19 successes. Here is a good contract for the defense of the Revs which is led by the excellent Andrew Farrell.

New England set a new MLS record with 73 points this season. This is a strong argument.

journaldemontreal Fr Sport

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