The international break for the last round of World Cup qualifying created an odd lapse in the schedule in the middle of the MLS Cup playoffs. It will have been two and a half weeks from the point that the Seattle Sounders, Columbus Crew, Houston Dynamo and Toronto FC have been on the pitch, and now, they need to ramp it up right away for a Tuesday night fight that will provide the backdrop for the thrilling conclusion of the conference finals.
Odds to Win the MLS Cup
Toronto FC +125
Seattle Sounders +275
Columbus Crew +300
Houston Dynamo +500
The moment is here for Toronto FC. If the Reds are going to be beaten, this figures to be the time that it's going to happen. TFC had the best side in the MLS all season long and was historically one of the best teams ever in the regular season.
That said, the last road match of the season for the Reds is going to be a big one against the Crew. Both Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco have been suspended for this duel, and with these two out, goals could be hard to come by for TFC.
Let's also not forget that Columbus feels like a touched team at the moment. The Crew were huge underdogs just to get out of the knockout round of the playoffs against Atlanta United. The Black Stars were easily favored in that match, and even when the duel went to penalties, it never really felt like Columbus was going to ultimately prevail.
Of course, as we now know, the Crew dominated that shootout and never looked back against New York City FC in the conference semifinals.
Now, in what could feasibly be the last ever match for the Crew in Columbus, they'll have their best shot to dispose of Toronto FC in a season which it looked dominant.
If the Crew do happen to win this first leg at home, there will be a lot of pressure on Toronto to come back to BMO Field and perform. A positive result that includes an away goal would likely see TFC elevated from a +125 choice to win its first ever MLS Cup to an odds-on selection.
The West was always inferior to the East this season in the MLS, so it shouldn't be surprising that the Sounders are only just barely ahead of Columbus on the odds to win the MLS Cup. Seattle enters the conference finals at +300 to win a second straight MLS Cup.
The Sounders are healthy for the first time in a long time, as they'll have all three of Jordan Morris, Osvaldo Alonso and Clint Dempsey on the field at the same time. These three weapons are huge for a team that has a slew of experience at this level and won't be bothered by the atmosphere in Houston.
The Dynamo are the Cinderella of this ball. They're only +500 longshots to win the MLS Cup, but in actuality, it doesn't really feel like they have a 1-in-5 chance to actually capture the silverware. This is a young team that has been growing up a lot, but the franchise hasn't been in the conference semifinals in four seasons and hasn't played for an MLS Cup in seemingly eons.
Houston has the least-positive attack of the four teams in the playoff, and it might legitimately have to 0-0 its way into the MLS Cup final if it wants to live to tell about soccer in December.
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