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Oct 23, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York City FC fans cheer after the MLS game against the Columbus Crew at Yankee Stadium. New York City FC won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

MLS Weekend Playoffs Preview

The MLS playoffs are officially under way. On Wednesday and Thursday, eight teams played the knockout round for the four spots left in the conference semifinals. Now there are eight teams left that are going to be competing for more than one month in the journey to win the MLS Cup on Dec. 10.

Knockout Results:

New York Red Bulls vs. Montreal Impact (Eastern Conference)

Oct 23, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Red Bulls fans cheer during the second half against the Philadelphia Union at Talen Energy Stadium. The Red Bulls won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 23, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Red Bulls fans cheer during the second half against the Philadelphia Union at Talen Energy Stadium. The Red Bulls won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Eastern Conference Semifinals will start with the best team in the East, the New York Red Bulls, visiting the Montreal Impact. The game will be played at the Saputo Stadium, at 3 p.m. ET.

On the one hand, Ignacio Piatti – with his 17 goals in the regular season – has been able to be the player to rely on the offense in Montreal. The Argentinian is the one who controls the pace every time he has the ball. He establishes the pause and orchestrates every offensive transition in the team. On the other hand, Bradley Wright-Phillips plans to continue his goal-scoring streak in the playoffs. His impressive velocity and great sense of the space inside the box are two of the reasons why he was the best goal scorer in the regular season with 24 goals.

Montreal Impact will have to show solidity and discipline on the backline to contend the attacking duo of Wright-Phillips and Sacha Kljestan – who had 20 assists in the regular season. Kljestan has a fantastic mental quickness when making decisions that helps him pulling the strings in the midfield.

The New York Red Bulls hope to show a better performance playing at the Saputo Stadium on Sunday. There have been a 3-0 Montreal victory and a 1-1 tie in the last two games between these two teams.

LA Galaxy vs. Colorado Rapids (Western Conference)

Oct 16, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Los Angeles Galaxy forward Giovani dos Santos (10) dribbles against the Houston Dynamo in the first half at BBVA Compass Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 16, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Los Angeles Galaxy forward Giovani dos Santos (10) dribbles against the Houston Dynamo in the first half at BBVA Compass Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

On the West Coast, the LA Galaxy and the Colorado Rapids will open the Western Conference Semifinals when they face each other at the Stubhub Center, at 5 p.m. ET.

The LA Galaxy will try to take advantage of having one of the deepest rosters in the league. Having players like Giovanni Dos Santos, Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan and Steven Gerrard will give the enough confidence to the entire roster to face these playoffs and win the fourth MLS Cup in the last six seasons for the team. Dos Santos has had a fantastic season. The Mexican player is both the scoring and assisting leader of the team with 14 goals and 12 assists. His goal-scoring and playmaking abilities will be complemented by veterans like Keane, Donovan and Gerrard. Players who know what it is necessary to win a championship.

On the other side of the pitch, the Colorado Rapids come to this game with a high momentum on their side. They were the second seed in the Western Conference and had the best defense in terms of goals conceded in the whole league – 32 goals conceded in 34 games played. They will need to keep showing that solidity in their backline if they want to contend the best striking force in the West, which is the LA Galaxy with 54 goals scored.

Toronto FC vs. New York City FC (Eastern Conference)

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The game between the Toronto FC and the New York FC promises to be one of the best games of the year in the MLS. It will be played at the BMO Field at 7 p.m. ET.

Sebastian Giovinco on the Canadian side and David Villa on the American side. These two players are probably the two best players in the MLS and will have the chance to demonstrate who is the best in a head-to-head match. Giovinco – who had 17 goals and 15 assists in the regular season – is the point of reference on the attack for Toronto. He has majestic dribbling skills that make him a nightmare for any defender. Villa – who had 23 goals and four assists in the regular season – has demonstrated a top-class level inside the rivals’ boxes. He deploys a quick reaction when reading plays and beating defenders on one-on-one situations.

Toronto will try to take advantage of New York’s deficiencies on defense. New York City conceded 57 goals in the regular season, the most by any playoff team in the entire league. Giovinco’s playmaking abilities and Jozy Altidore‘s fire power will be a threat for the visiting defenders.

The New York City FC hopes to maintain its good streak when playing at the BMO Field. The American side had a 2-0 victory and a 1-1 tie in the last two games at Toronto.

Seattle Sounders vs. FC Dallas (Western Conference)

Oct 27, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Sounders FC forward Nelson Valdez (16) celebrates with his teammates after a 1-0 victory against Sporting Kansas City at CenturyLink Center. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 27, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Sounders FC forward Nelson Valdez (16) celebrates with his teammates after a 1-0 victory against Sporting Kansas City at CenturyLink Center. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas will try to demonstrate against the Seattle Sounders that having the best record (60 points) in the regular season was not a coincidence. It will be played at the CenturyLink Center at 9:30 p.m. ET.

The Texan side hopes that the Argentinian duo conformed by Maximiliano Urruti and Mauro Diaz is on fire against Sounder defenders. They have been the pillar for a team that has showed the best soccer this season. This is a team that shows fluency when moving the ball through triangles and build-ups. It is mainly because of their quick recovery of the ball when marking the passing paths of the other team.

Sounders’ quick offensive transitions through Nicolás Lodeiro, Clint Dempsey and Nelson Valdez will be crucial for them to deploy an effective game plan on offense. Lodeiro’s agility to dribble defenders and pace to connect the dots on offense can allow Dempsey and Valdez to feel more freedom when driving the ball and cutting the rival’s box.

About Jose Sanchez

Journalism student at the University of Florida. Venezuelan and future sports journalist.

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