Toronto vs Columbus: Toronto FC Are Still The Team To Beat
MLS Eastern Conference Finals Second Leg Picks
Nothing much has changed in the race for the MLS Cup. Toronto FC will enter their return-leg fixture against the Columbus Crew as overwhelming favourites to lift the trophy (-142 at the time of writing) and of course it is the Canadian side that will host the final should they taste success on Wednesday night. A sell-out crowd is practically guaranteed at BMO Field, and they may again be the difference as the Reds look to make it back to back MLS Cup appearances.
The first leg finished 0-0 in Columbus, meaning that a home win will be enough for Toronto FC. With the likes of Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco back on the team sheet after missing last week's game through suspension, it would take a brave person to bet against the Reds progressing, and only the most optimistic Crew fan will tell you otherwise.
Columbus, whether by design or through nerves, never looked like breaking down Toronto's sound defence in the first leg. While there were times late in the match where the Reds' centre-halves appeared to be tiring, the honest assessment was that it was a pretty dour goalless draw. Mind you, this could potentially play into the hands of Columbus, who will only need one away goal to really shake up this tie.
So what are the top sportsbooks saying about this match? Sports Interaction have a number of lines available, and below we discuss the head-to-head odds, plus discuss the matchup in more detail and provide a list of betting tips for this match.
Head to Head Market
Toronto FC are clear favourites in the head-to-head market, and they are certainly our pick to progress. With a full-strength attacking lineup complimented by a resolute defensive unit that was one of the best in the league during the regular season, we don't give Columbus a chance here.
Add in the fact that this Toronto FC squad have recent playoff experience and it's really a simple choice for the victory. Although the home side is a clear favourite in our eyes, the odds are very generous. This is as close to a sure-thing bet this week, go for Toronto FC to win (-169).
The only scoreline that will send the match to extra-time is another scoreless draw, and we don't believe that is a likely scenario (you can get odds of +817 for the game to go beyond 90 minutes). Even though we expect another nervy affair in Toronto, their last home performance quite easily could (and perhaps should) have yielded goals. With dry conditions forecast, we expect to see more than one scored by the home side in this match.
While we correctly predicted that there would be under 2.5 goals in the first leg, we are leaning towards the opposite for this match. As mentioned above, the initial forecast is for a cool but dry night in Toronto, ideal for attacking football. The over is set at -143, while you can get +108 for a result that features no more than two goals in total. Go for the over 2.5 goals (-143).
Correct Score Market
We are confident that there will be a few goals in this match, although it's more difficult to pick the exact score. A 1-0 victory for the home side would be enough to see them through, however knowing that a 1-1 draw would be fatal to their campaign, you should expect to see Toronto FC kick on and go for more goals if they score first.
Surprisingly, the 1-1 draw is the favourite in the 'Correct Score' market, priced at +623, followed closely by 1-0, 2-0 and 2-1 scorelines in favour of Toronto FC which all offer around +670.
We think that the attacking performance from the Reds will yield more than two goals, while they will also concede at least once due to the Crew's threat on the counter. There is also history here - Toronto FC finished 3-2 ahead of Montreal in last year's Conference Final at the same venue.
Our fearless prediction is a 3-1 victory to Toronto, and this is paying +1000.
Both Teams To Score Market
While the +1000 on offer for the correct score is tempting, it's extremely difficult to pick a scoreline in any fixture, let alone a Conference Final. We are very confident that both teams will manage a goal in this matchup, so perhaps you would prefer to place a wager on this market instead. The 'Yes' in this market is paying -141, while the 'No' is at +102.
Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew Betting Tips
There is plenty to consider when looking into the potential outcome of this match, and we'll start by pointing out the form of each side throughout the playoffs. Toronto, as Supporter's Shield winners and the number-one seed, progressed straight to the semi-finals, and although they won the first leg well at Red Bull Arena, they failed to score in a nervy performance against the New York Red Bulls who easily could have made it through.
The effort against New York somewhat mirrored their 2016 MLS Cup final showing, and manager Greg Vanney will be aware that anything other than a win could potentially spell the end for his side. Goals will be required, and should be easier to come by due to the return of their star attacking duo, however both Giovinco and Altidore have not played competitively since the November 5 match - will a lack of playing time be a factor here?
Columbus started their MLS Playoffs campaign with a strong defensive effort in Atlanta that resulted in a penalty shootout victory. From there they managed to blow New York City FC off the park in Ohio with a 4-1 drubbing, and although they lost the return fixture at Yankee Stadium 2-0, they progressed as the in-form team in the Eastern Conference.
Yet after a 0-0 loss at what may be their last ever match at the MAPFRE Stadium, it's going to take a sterling effort for the yellow and blacks to progress. Despite the 2-0 loss in New York being their first for over three months, they have not managed to find the back of their net in three of their four playoff matches, and are 0-2 on the road. Scoring against Toronto FC is tough at the best of times, and it's tough to see them doing so on Wednesday night.
While many point to the attacking threat of both teams (Ola Kamara, Federico Higuain and Justin Meram were almost as effective as Giovinco, Altidore and Victor Vazquez in 2017), we believe the key to this match is one man - USA national team captain Michael Bradley. Since the country's epic failure in Trinidad and Tobago, the defensive midfielder has looked as focussed as we've seen him this season and his performance in Columbus amidst a chorus of boos each time he gained possession was extremely impressive.
Do you agree with our picks? Will Toronto FC go all the way this year? To join in on the conversation, be sure to connect with us on Facebook and discuss your thoughts.
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