The MLS Cup Playoffs is in full swing now as the round shifts to the conference semifinals this week. Both conferences will begin tomorrow with the first leg matches.
Since FC Dallas failed to get to the post season we thought it would be good to provide you all with a handy guide of who to root for and watch this post season.
Toronto FC (1st in the East, 69 points)
Toronto has been the class of the league all season long with their record breaking performances, Supporters’ Shield winning and just about everything else in-between.
Why they’ll win: They’re just that damn good. Sebastian Giovinco hasn’t even played at his true best in 2017 and he’s still racking up goals and assists like no one else. Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley look like the veterans you want leading your team. And then every other piece just falls perfectly into place.
Why they won’t: The Shield winners don’t have the greatest history of pulling the double. They can also be leaky in the turnover department through the midfield.
Gif that summarizes FCD’s fan’s rooting for TFC:
New York City FC (2nd in East, 57 points)
NYCFC was a club that looked on par with Toronto for a large part of the season and even at times looked better. But the defense began leaking some goals in the second half of the season and sometimes they relied too much on David Villa to lead them.
Why they’ll win: They still have possibly the best manager in the league (Patrick Vieria) and the best player (Villa). That kind of combination is always best to have in your corner at this stage in the season.
Why they won’t: Their 2-2-5 form down the stretch gives me reason to not expect the world from them.
Gif that summarizes FCD’s fan’s rooting for NYCFC:
Columbus Crew (5th in the East, 54 points)
Given the way things are going in Ohio these days, it may be hard not to root for the Crew in these playoffs. They’ve already eliminated the darlings of the league in Atlanta thanks to a great defensive performance by keeper Zach Steffan and they’re a team that is on a rather impressive unbeaten run (11 games, including the win over Atlanta).
Why they’ll win: Momentum is huge this time of the year, that much we know. They’re the type of team that will cause you fits in the middle of the park and can find goals out of nothing up top.
Why they won’t: All good things have to come to an end at some point.
Gif that summarizes FCD’s fan’s rooting for Columbus:
New York Red Bulls (6th in the East, 50 points)
The Red Bulls made quick work of the Chicago Fire last week in the Knockout Round, thanks to being able to rest key players on Decision Day. Jesse Marsch still has a solid group that started to finally look the part in the final couple months of the season.
Why they’ll win: They have guys like Sacha Kljestan and Bradley Wright-Phillips. If even one of them are going, they’ll be tough to beat.
Why they won’t: They’re prone to throwing a few too many players forward and it comes back to haunt them quickly on the break.
Gif that summarizes FCD’s fan’s rooting for NY:
Portland Timbers (1st in the West, 53 points)
Somehow, some way, the Timbers ended up on the top of the conference this season. The main reason is simple as to how it happened, Diego Valeri. Portland looks fairly similar to the team that won it all a couple years ago with their impressive form down the stretch (8-3-2 in their final 13 games).
Why they’ll win: Valeri has carried them this far.
Why they won’t: Outside of Valeri, they haven’t had enough guys step up into the attack to help make up for the injury to Fanendo Adi. At some point their defense is going to get exposed again. If they go down a couple goals on the road, it could be tough for them to make up for it.
Gif that summarizes FCD’s fan’s rooting for Portland:
Seattle Sounders (2nd in the West, 53 points)
It will feel weird for everyone not to see FCD and Seattle go at it yet again in the post season but that is another topic for another day. The Sounders may have not looked like a true defending champion all year long but it really didn’t matter. They got the job done when they needed to the most.
Why they’ll win: In talent alone, they still have one of the better and deeper sides in MLS. They’ve been good down the stretch despite a slew of draws in the final 18 matches.
Why they won’t: If they don’t get hot offensively, they’ll struggle.
Gif that summarizes FCD’s fan’s rooting for Seattle:
Vancouver Whitecaps (3rd in the West, 52 points)
Then there is the third and final Cascadia team in the playoffs, the Whitecaps, who are fresh off their first ever MLS playoff win. This has been a tricky team to figure out but right now they may have the makings of one that could go very deep.
Why they’ll win: They’re extremely dangerous on the counter, just ask San Jose last week when they got a five-spot put on them in the Knockout Round. They’re also pretty damn good on set pieces too.
Why they won’t: They really do not like possessing the ball and at some point that could come back to haunt you in an important game.
Gif that summarizes FCD’s fan’s rooting for Vancouver:
Houston Dynamo (4th in the West, 50 points)
Lastly, we have our rivals to the south in Houston. The Dynamo got back to the post season for the first time in what feels like forever. They’ve been playing well down the stretch too, going 3-0-3 with some big wins over SKC.
Why they’ll win: Like Vancouver, they can take in pressure and catch you on the counter.
Why they won’t: They’re defending on the road has been super shaky all year long. Distribution out of the back is also not their strong spot.
Gif that summarizes FCD’s fan’s rooting for Houston: