MLS Picks - En Route To Playoffs
Toronto FC vs Montreal Impact
It has been a simply incredible season for Toronto FC. They have already wrapped up the Supporters' Shield, doing so with two games in hand and becoming the first Canadian side to capture the trophy, and they are also just four points away from becoming the most successful side in terms of points earned in a regular MLS season.
But the team has repeatedly stated that winning the MLS Cup is the only goal for 2017, and they will be pushing hard to achieve that target for the remainder of the season.
Meanwhile, Montreal have had an indifferent season, albeit in a very strong Eastern conference that for the first time in years is notably more difficult than the West. They currently sit seventh in their division and fifteenth overall, a disappointing result considering they went all the way to the Conference Final last season. In that match they were knocked out after extra time by Toronto FC, adding another chapter to a building rivalry between the two clubs.
Toronto and Montreal's clash begins at 5pm on Sunday afternoon at BMO Field, and comes less than 24 hours after the Montreal Canadiens host the Toronto Maple Leafs in the NHL, capping off a great rivalry weekend for the two Canadian cities. Below you will find the match odds, followed by our analysis of the fixture and our result prediction.
Toronto FC appear at incredibly short odds to record their 20th win of the campaign, while the Impact have been given absolutely no chance, priced at +625 by Sports Interaction. The gulf is certainly a reflection of the difference between the two sides on the MLS standings, and the fact that Montreal's season is already over means that the Reds shouldn't experience too much resistance here.
Having said that, this is a derby, and all rivalry matches have an added spark regardless of the circumstances in which two sides meet. Unless Toronto FC fans have an extremely short and selective memory, they will also be aware that just last month Montreal traveled to BMO, still with an outside chance of making the MLS Playoffs, and defeated the home side 5-3.
Toronto FC were without superstar Sebastian Giovinco on that occasion, and with his likely return on Sunday should field a very different looking lineup. Jozy Altidore is another that wasn't present on September 20, and he and USA captain Michael Bradley will be looking to inflict some pain on their opponents after suffering a humiliating defeat to Trinidad and Tobago midweek, leading to the country's first failure to qualify for the World Cup in over 30 years.
In short a Montreal Impact side with nothing to play for appear to have no chance, coming up against a Toronto FC side who are looking to both reverse the embarrassing loss to their rivals last month and push to become the most successful regular season side in history.
Toronto FC should win the 401 derby comfortably and give their faithful fans one last victory at home before they return in the playoffs next month.
Pick: Toronto FC (-227) at Sports Interaction
Vancouver Whitecaps vs San Jose Earthquakes
Just seven points separate the Vancouver Whitecaps and the San Jose Earthquakes, which is remarkable considering the fact that we're talking about the first-placed team in the Western Conference against the team currently in eighth position. This really sums up the disparity between the East and West in the 2017 MLS season - by contrast, Toronto FC hold a 26 point lead over the eighth-placed New England Revolution.
While the Toronto FC vs Montreal Impact matchup won't change anything regarding the playoff picture, this match will have plenty of ramifications in the West. Montreal are guaranteed to finish in the top six, however dropped points in either of their last two fixtures will open the door for Sporting to nab top spot, with superior goal difference an advantage for the team from Kansas.
Meanwhile, the San Jose Earthquakes can thank an incredibly lacklustre Western Conference for the fact that they are still in contention for the playoffs despite having a goal difference of negative 22 and a season record of 12-6-14. A win for the Earthquakes could see them jump into sixth position at the expense of FC Dallas who have a tough fixture away to Seattle.
The Whitecaps are favoured to win in this match, and it's easy to see why - their record against the Earthquakes at home stands at six wins and just one defeat in eight matches, while they have won five of their last eight matches in the league, including an important 1-0 victory over nearest rivals Sporting which clinched their place in the postseason.
This match will really come down to who is more desperate. A win for the Whitecaps will seal a week off in the first round of the playoffs, so they should be up for the match. The Earthquakes have looked shaky (pardon the pun) at the back all season and Vancouver have managed to score plenty of goals at home. Your best bet is the home side here, which would make a good parlay bet if paired with Toronto FC, who are almost a sure thing.
Catch all the action from Vancouver at 7:30pm EDT, Sunday October 15th.
Pick: Vancouver Whitecaps (-151) at Sports Interaction
MLS Matchday 33 Picks
All 22 teams are in action on Sunday and there are a number of other big matches that will have a huge impact on the final placing of teams in both conferences. Sporting KC host a Houston Dynamo side that are clipping at their heels - a win to the home side will see them keep the pressure on Vancouver in the race for top spot, but a loss will see them slip to as low as fifth in the Western Conference standings. At -137, Sporting are clear favourites, although given what's at stake don't expect a comfortable victory. Our pick is 2-1 to Kansas City.
As mentioned above, FC Dallas and Seattle Sounders will lock horns in a match that will have big ramifications in the West. A home victory for Seattle could see them move into the top-two, so crucial in the playoffs, and could give them a chance at the conference championship if results in the above two matches go their way. FC Dallas will need to fight to stay sixth in an incredibly tight playoff race, and they have enough quality to gain a valuable point here but won't do any better than that. Our pick is the draw here, which offers odds of +234.
Both of the above matches kick off at 7:30pm EDT on Sunday, and with so many games all at the same time you are presented with a great opportunity to attempt a parlay bet or look at the live markets. Check out our MLS page for more tips on how to maximise your winnings, and as always good luck in your pursuits this weekend - hopefully our picks have you on the way to a win.
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The MLS action continues this weekend with all three Canadian teams involved in crucial fixtures. First up will be Toronto FC who is the all-Canadian clash between fierce rivals Toronto FC and Montreal Impact, immediately followed by the Vancouver Whitecaps hosting Sporting Kansas City.