MLS Playoffs Western Conference Final: Seattle Sounders vs. Minnesota FC
The final matchup of the MLS conference finals has been set, after Minnesota FC decisively beat the number one seeded Sporting KC 3-0 on Thursday night. The team will now face the reigning MLS Champions Seattle Sounders for a spot in the championship game.
The two top teams in the Western Conference have been decided. Despite the number one seed being eliminated, there has not been much in the way of surprises in the Western Conference. Seattle finished second while Minnesota FC finished fourth. Both teams will meet each other on Monday at 7:30 PM EST.
Therefore, we expect a high class matchup between two of the best teams all season and in the playoffs. The MLS Playoffs are down to four teams total in the last round before a champion is crowned.
Sportsbooks had Seattle as one of the favorites at the beginning of the playoffs, while Minnesota was something of an outsider. With only four teams remaining, USA sportsbooks give us a final glimpse at the betting odds for the eventual MLS Champions.
|Team||Odds at Beginning:||Current Odds:|
|New England Revolution||+2500||+375|
#2 Seattle Sounders
Current Playoff Form:
Seattle Sounders 3, LAFC 1
Seattle Sounders 1, FC Dallas 0
It should come as a surprise to no one that the reigning MLS Champions are one of two teams left in the Western Conference. The team has won the championship twice in the past five years and just finished another excellent season as the second seed in the Western Conference.
Seattle started off the MLS Playoffs with two very difficult games. The first a 3-1 win over LAFC and the second a 1-0 win over FC Dallas last Tuesday. In the game against Dallas, we saw the return of a disciplined Seattle who was simply a class above its opponent.
The header from Shane O'neill was enough to push the Sounders to the Western Conference Finals. Now the team is focused and knows what it can accomplish. Two games stand between Seattle and being given the title of back to back MLS Champions.
However, there are seemingly no easy games in the playoffs even for a team like the Sounders, as the next opponent Minnesota FC is in great form and the most threatening opponent. This is the true test for Seattle as Minnesota is a team that reflects the Sounders style of play with a talented roster and a high-energy offense.
Seattle’s Chances of Winning the Game
Seattle will be going into the toughest matchup it has faced so far in these MLS Playoffs. The team must be prepared at the back as Minnesota has shown all season that it can score. The team will need to focus more on the defensive side this game.
Getting into a shootout with Minnesota would be extremely risky, as that style of play is too unreliable and could see an exit for the Sounders. Regardless, the game is looking more and more like it will be high scoring.
The biggest advantage Seattle will have in this game will be playing at home despite restrictions on the fans in attendance. Both teams have incredibly similar styles, with goal scoring stats and the same starting formations.
In this game, a shootout may be inevitable as the two teams will likely not try to slow the game down all that much. Certainly another style of play will not be employed at this stage in the season. The matchup will come down to which team has the overall better game, as it could go either way.
In order for Seattle to win, the team will need to use the experience it has in the MLS Playoffs in order to play a calm, convincing game. Minnesota has been good on defense this season, but constant pressure from Raul Ruidiaz and Jodi Morris may prove to be too much for them to handle.
Once the team is able to break through and punish Minnesota’s defense with a first goal, the confidence the team has from its past two shutouts will be shattered and Seattle should be able to control the rest of the game.
#4 Minnesota FC
Current Playoff Form:
Minnesota 3, Colorado 0
Minnesota FC 3, Sporting KC 0
The team that finished fourth in the Western Conference, Minnesota is coming into this game in incredible form. After a dominating 3-0 performance against the top team in the conference Sporting KC, Minnesota will be believing that there is no team that can put them away now.
Minnesota has now scored six goals in two games in the MLS Playoffs and allowed none. In the game against Sporting KC, the team scored three goals in the first half and shut out one of the top scoring teams in the league. To say the team has been in good form in the playoffs would be an understatement.
While the confidence will be present, it will certainly be put to the test against the reigning MLS champions. Minnesota will have the same problems that Seattle will, as the two play similar styles of soccer.
The 3-0 shutouts do not say enough about Minnesota FC. The team’s defense has been unbreakable during these playoffs, while starting goalie Dayne St. Clair has continued his great form, totally deserving the back to back shutouts.
Minnesota was also able to rely on top scorer Kevin Molino for a brace including the game-winning goal.
What Minnesota FC Needs to Win
While Colorado and Sporting KC were certainly formidable opponents, neither team has the prowess that Seattle carries in the MLS Playoffs. Minnesota will need to both retain its current confidence while at the same time understanding that this game will be something entirely different.
Minnesota will need to try and come out and score as quickly as possible. A first goal against Seattle will make a quick statement and possibly allow them to control the game from there on out. The team will also need to continue its good form from front to back.
Emmanuel Reyenoso has been incredible in these MLS Playoffs. The midfielder from Argentina has assisted five out of the six goals scored by Minnesota. He assisted all three goals against Sporting KC and will be the player the team needs most to step up and perform.
Finding him room to operate and find Molino will be a key plan for Minnesota when they head to play Seattle. The team will also need to sharpen its defense. Despite allowing zero goals thus far, Sporting KC had extremely dangerous chances that a Sounders team will likely capitalize on.
Seattle vs. Minnesota Final Thoughts and Predictions
When you get down to the semifinals of any tournament, the matchups will become more difficult to call. We will have such a game on Monday. Two teams with similar talent, in great form and with similar styles of play.
This game will be the closest in terms of ability out of the entire MLS Playoffs. It can absolutely go either way, and if the teams played 10 games, they might each win five in this current form. The two teams have not played each other all year, but even the recent games before 2020 were extremely close.
In this game, we are going to give the advantage to both the home team and the reigning MLS Champions Seattle Sounders. The team’s experience, familiarity playing at home and swagger after winning the cup last year will be enough to push them past Minnesota.
We predict a high scoring game that eventually ends with Seattle in the MLS Championship game for the second season in a row.
Prediction: Seattle 4, Minnesota 2