WITH New York Red Bulls joining their bitter rivals New York City in the end of season playoffs, the bookies have decided both teams will struggle to make an impact in the competition.
City had the more comfortable route into the end of season extravaganza, and if they can overcome Atlanta United in their playoff first round clash, they will face Supporters’ Shield winners New England Revolution in round two.
The potential for an away game against the highest point scorers across both Conferences may explain NYCFC’s odds of winning the MLS Cup taking a hit – they were as short as 12/1 recently – and with New England having home advantage throughout the playoffs, they will be difficult to beat.
NYCFC are now as long as 25/1 (2500) to win the MLS Cup, with Red Bulls out at 40/1 (4000). Bookies unsurprisingly have runaway Eastern Conference winners New England as favorites at 9/4 (+225), with Western Conference runners-up, Seattle Sounders, second favorites at 9/2. Seattle’s excellent playoffs record – they have two Cup wins and two runners-up spots in the last five years – explains why they are shorter than Western winners, Colorado Rapids.
The Western division was a far tighter affair with just three points separating the top three, and Colorado are trading at 12/1 (1200) with third-placed Sporting Kansas City are available with betting promotions for various U.S. sportsbooks at odds 8/1 (800).
Red Bulls enjoyed a superb run at the end of campaign – including their derby success over NYCFC – picking up 25 points out of a possible 36, allowing them to pip DC United and last season’s MLS Cup winners, Columbus Crew, for the final playoff spot. They needed a point in their final game against Nashville, with Fabio Roberto Gomes Netto’s goal after just 38 seconds enough to earn a tie.
They face Philadelphia Union in their first playoff game, the two clubs involved in three tight affairs already this season. If Gerhard Struber’s side can win that clash they will face either Nashville or Orlando City.
The likelihood of a derby match-up at the Yankee Stadium in effectively an Eastern Conference final is unlikely, but not out of the question. While many point to NYCFC’s average record on the road this season as crucial to any playoff hopes – they have won just four times on their travels – they did claim victory in their last away game and, more importantly, have also registered a win over New England earlier in the campaign.
They are unbeaten since the Hudson River Derby reverse and with a well-organized defence, they remain a very difficult team to break down.
But both New York sides have struggled to make a big impact in the playoffs: City’s best performance a semi-final spot, and Red Bulls’ greatest achievement losing the final to Columbus Crew back in 2008.
City did claim one prize, however, this season, star striker Valentín ‘Taty’ Castellanos winning the MLS Golden Boot after scoring his 19th goal in the final-day draw with Philadelphia. He was level on goals with DC United’s Ola Kamara but Castellanos had eight assists to Kamara’s five.
The play offs begin on November 20 with the final on December 11. If games are level at full-time, they go into 30 minutes of extra-time. A penalty shootout will determine a winner if the two sides are still tied at the end of extra-time.