MLS Western Conference: Sounders To Finish The Job
Are Seattle Going To The MLS Cup Final?
It's certainly looks as though we're going to see the Seattle Sounders in the biggest match of the MLS season, but first they need to ensure they finish the job against Houston after a 2-0 away win in Texas. The side were certainly the better side in the first leg, although they were helped considerably by the sending off of Dynamo defender Jalil Anibaba midway through the first half.
Anibaba will of course miss the return fixture at CenturyLink Field, and he will be joined by striker Alberth Elis who picked up a second postseason yellow card. If this isn't enough bad news already for Dynamo fans, they won't be pleased to hear that their side has never won a match against the Sounders in Seattle (in six attempts) and have not scored a goal at the venue since March 2011.
Houston will have to defy the odds to reach their first MLS Cup final since 2012, although they should take heart from the fact they managed to score twice away to Portland in their shock semi-final victory. The Dynamo have been playing as though they have nothing to lose for most of the back end of the season, and while that mentality couldn't save them at home, don't underestimate a fearless side with eleven men on Thursday night.
It is definitely going to be an intriguing fixture, and Sports Interaction have a number of markets available. Below we discuss the form of each team, followed by our pick of the lines, including the head-to-head, over/under and correct score markets.
Head to Head Market
There is plenty to consider when looking into the potential outcome of this match, and we'll start by pointing out that Seattle don't necessarily need to win the match to progress. A draw or even a one-goal defeat will be enough for the reigning MLS Cup champions to progress to the final, and this may affect the type of football we see.
Although we think that Seattle is the better side on paper, the odds on them winning the match outright are quite low (-140) considering they would happily take the draw. On the other hand, the extra effort the Dynamo make in attack may open the door for Clint Dempsey and co. to pounce on the counter, resulting in a Sounders victory. It is never easy to pick the result of a second-leg when the first is won by the away side.
But we're not in the business of sitting on the fence. Seattle have won four of their last five matches, and have not conceded a goal in their last four home matches. If there's a team that knows how to keep a clean sheet at home, it's the Sounders, and we are going to back their offense to score at least one. Go for Seattle (-140).
Houston will need to score a minimum of two goals to progress to the MLS Cup final (2-0 to the Dynamo would send the game to extra time and potentially penalties), and against the Sounders you'd expect they would need more than the bare minimum.
If you think the game will feature plenty of goals, the over/under market (set at 2.5 at Sports Interaction) is offering -107 for more than 2.5 goals to be scored.
We are a little concerned about the absence of Roman Torres, however we believe the Sounders are still a great chance of keeping a clean sheet against the Dynamo given their current form, especially as Alberth Elis will be missing from their attack. If they do enter this game defensively as expected, there is a great chance that there will be less than 2.5 goals.
This is our pick for this match, go for Under 2.5 goals (-124).
Correct Score Market
All the money is with Seattle in this market, and our pick would be the Seattle 1-0 (+563). This is the second-favourite after the 1-1 draw (+560), while victories to Seattle by a margin of 2-0 or 2-1 are also a big chance according to Sports Interaction (+680). If you think the Sounders are going to park the bus and play for the 0-0 draw, the +900 on offer is also a reasonable pick.
Both Teams To Score Market
While the +563 on offer for the correct score is tempting, it's extremely difficult to pick a scoreline in any fixture, let alone a Conference Final. There is plenty of reason to believe that Seattle will keep a clean sheet in this match, so why not place a bet on the 'No' for the 'Both Teams To Score' line? You will get odds of -118 for this one.
Seattle Sounders vs Houston Dynamo Betting Tips
The Form Guide
Seattle finished the regular season in second place and therefore skipped straight to the semi-final matchup against Vancouver, who they overtook on the final day of the season. Plenty was expected of the Whitecaps in the first leg of this tie, played at BC Place where they had won their knockout round match 5-0 against San Jose, however the match ended 0-0 and gave Seattle the upper hand coming back to CenturyLink Field.
The Sounders took full advantage of playing at a venue where they had only lost once all season and came away with a comfortable 2-0 win thanks to a brace from veteran Clint Dempsey. The score was then repeated in the first leg of the final, and this time it was former Dynamo player Will Bruin who stole the headlines with his twelfth goal of the campaign; he now has just two fewer goals than main-main Dempsey.
Houston have surprised many in making it this far in the postseason. Their first playoff match went to extra-time at home, and it was Alberth Elis who nabbed the winner in the 94th minute against a miserly Sporting Kansas City outfit. He is definitely going to be missed in the upcoming match.
Their semi-final first-leg against Portland was also played at the BBVA Compass stadium, and again they failed to score in regulation time. This time though they had a second opportunity to get the W, and managed a superb come-from-behind win in Portland thanks to goals from Dylan Remick and Mauro Manotas. Both players are expected to be in the lineup on Thursday night.
Although we have mentioned that Alberth Elis will be a crucial out for the Dynamo when they travel to Seattle, there is another out that could potentially have bigger ramifications. Sounders centre-back Roman Torres will also miss the match through suspension, and his effective partnership with Chad Marshall will not be in action. Tony Alfaro will likely come in as a replacement, although this disruption may open the door for Houston to score a crucial goal or two.
Do you agree with our picks? Will Seattle go all the way again this year? To join in on the conversation, be sure to connect with us on Facebook and discuss your thoughts.
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