MLS Cup Playoffs: Conference Finals Preview
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Sunday, October 27, 2019
The final four team remaining in the MLS playoffs will take the field this week in hopes of advancing to the MLS Cup Finals.
The playoffs have been quite eventful thus far and have provided some surprising outcomes; the Western Conference semi-finals treated fans to a high scoring El Traffico while the Eastern Conference saw a memorable panenka by Alejandro Pozuelo that eliminated NYFC, who finished first in the Eastern Conference this season.
Eastern Conference: Atlanta United (2) vs Toronto FC (4)
The Eastern Conference Finals is a unique matchup between the 2017 MLS Cup Champions Toronto FC and 2018 MLS Cup Champions Atlanta United for a chance at returning to the finals.
Both teams have played well and have used their dynamic offense to their advantage. Atlanta will be the favorites as they head into the match with the home field advantage however, Toronto FC have been a surprising story in the Eastern Conference and have built plenty of momentum during the last month of the season, which has carried over into their playoff matchups.
Toronto could also have some help as it looks like forward Jozy Altidore and defender Omar Gonzalez will be in the lineup on Wednesday night, which could provide them with another scoring threat in Altidore and another calming defensive presence on the backline.
Western Conference: Los Angeles FC (1) vs Seattle Sounders (2)
The top two teams in the MLS Western Conference will look to capitalize on their semi-final performances and book their ticket to the finals.
In an offensive display Thursday night, LAFC finally defeated their rivals LA Galaxy 5-2, to advance to the next round and put their regular season losses behind them. Heading into the playoffs, LA Galaxy were viewed as the only possible threat to LAFC because they seemed to have their number in every matchup so far and Zlatan Ibrahimovic had some of his best performances during the El Traffico matchups.
Seattle will need to come up with a gameplan to stop Carlos Vela, who led the league in scoring this season (34 goals), and slow down the pace of the game as LAFC have a dynamic offense that starts with the playmaking ability of their midfielders and ends with the scoring ability of their attackers Vela and Diego Rossi.
Regardless of who meets in the finals, there will be plenty of talking points for all teams involved. Will Seattle and Toronto meet in the finals for the third time in four years? Or will the first place team in the West; LAFC take on the first place team in the East; Atlanta?
Photo Credit: Major League Soccer (@MLS)