The conference final round of Major League Soccer’s playoffs will take place Tuesday and Wednesday, with the West going first and the East going second. Here’s a look at what to watch in each game.
Home teams are first in each matchup. Betting odds are via SugarHouse, and are as of Monday night.
Tuesday, 10:18 p.m. at Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles (ESPN in English, ESPN Deportes in Spanish; coverage starts at 10 p.m.)
Odds: Los Angeles 1/6 (21/50 to win in regulation), Seattle 7/2 (23/4 in regulation), tie after regulation 19/5
Season series: A 4-1 Los Angeles win at home on April 21, and a 1-1 tie in Seattle on April 28.
Los Angeles player to watch: GK Tyler Miller. As entertaining as LAFC’s 5-3 conference-semifinal win over the Galaxy was, the defending wasn’t great. Miller, a Bishop Eustace High alum, had as many saves as goals allowed. This game likely won’t be as high-scoring, but still, he has to step up.
Seattle player to watch: M Gustav Svensson. If the Sounders are going to pull off the upset, someone on their end is going to have to play some defense. In the 2-0 conference-semifinal win over Real Salt Lake, Svensson had 2 tackles, 2 interceptions, 1 clearance and 2 blocks. He also pitched in with the attack, scoring the opening goal with a header off a corner kick.
Pick: Los Angeles. Beating the Galaxy for the first time took a big emotional load off the team’s shoulders. Now it is one win away from hosting the championship game. Seattle will put up a fight, but the home team will prevail.
Wednesday, 8:10 p.m. at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta (Fox Sports 1 in English and Spanish; coverage starts at 7:30 p.m.)
Odds: Atlanta 7/20 (10/13 in regulation), Toronto 19/10 (13/4 in regulation), tie after regulation 29/10
Season series: Each team won its home game, Atlanta by 2-0 on May 8 and Toronto by 3-2 on June 26.
Atlanta player to watch: F Josef Martínez. Union fans know all too well that you can’t take your eye off him. Yes, Mark McKenzie was a step late, but if you’re going to get beat, it might as well happen on a goal that good. Toronto centerback Omar Gonzalez could be in for just as long a night.
Toronto player to watch: M Alejandro Pozuelo. He was deservingly named Monday to MLS’ Best XI for the regular season, with 12 goals and 12 assists in the campaign. The Spaniard scored both goals in TFC’s 2-1 conference-semifinal win at New York City FC, including an audacious Panenka chipped penalty kick in the 90th minute.