After an incredibly dramatic victory for Orlando City and a moderately dramatic win for Columbus Crew SC, Round One of the 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs continues Sunday with three more games that promise to add to what’s been a thrilling start to the preseason.
Here’s what to watch for:
Sporting Kansas City vs. San Jose Earthquakes
Sun., 4 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes in US; TSN 3/5 in Canada
There was a time this season many had left the Quakes for dead following a series of lopsided defeats in September, but Matias Almeyda’s group are in the dance and ready to wreak havoc. Still, they’ll be the heavy underdogs against No. 1 seed Sporting KC.
This might be the most difficult to predict match of the whole slate. Which version of the Quakes are we going to see? It varies from game to game so much sometimes, this could be anything from an easy day at the office for SKC to a shock upset for San Jose and it’s doubtful anyone would be that surprised either way. What that does mean, though, is that this makes for a mighty compelling matchup, even if Peter Vermes’ side will be a heavy favorite.
Minnesota United vs. Colorado Rapids
Sun., 7:30 pm ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes in US; TSN 3/5 in Canada
The Loons have plenty to prove this postseason as they continue their emergence from their difficult first two seasons in MLS to a legitimate Western Conference contender.
Minnesota are undeniably much improved over the past two seasons, but a playoff victory is the next step in making a statement that they’re a top-flight team in the league. It’s not an easy matchup with a Colorado side that is riding a three-game winning streak into postseason play. This has the makings of a competitive, hard-fought match that could come down to who can execute in the game’s final moments.
Portland Timbers vs. FC Dallas
Sun., 10 pm ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes in US; TSN 3/5 in Canada
It’ll be youth vs. experience as the battle-tested Timbers take on an upstart FC Dallas side hungry for an upset in this 3 vs. 6-seed matchup.
FC Dallas coach Luchi Gonzalez is on record as saying he feels as though most prognosticators are already dubbing Portland the victors, and that he doesn’t mind the role of his team trying to spoil the party. They’ll have to win at a venue in which they’ve historically struggled at Providence Park, and against a Portland team that won the MLS is Back Tournament and has weathered a pair of crucial injuries to Sebastian Blanco and Jaroslaw Niezgoda to stay near the top of the West all season. That’s a testament to the depth and moxie of Gio Savarese’s group, who are looking to make it a two-trophy season.
Toronto FC vs. Nashville SC
Tue., 6 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes in US; TSN 1/4/5 in Canada
Nashville SC will be walking on air leading up to this matchup after thrashing Inter Miami CF in the Play-In Round, but a much tougher task awaits them in a Toronto group that has plenty of big-game experience, having gone to three out of the last four MLS Cups.
The question here is to what degree can Nashville keep their recent surge in attacking play going? The expansion side has proven to be a rock-solid defensive team, but it’s the recent explosiveness on the other side of the ball that has to have Gary Smith feeling like his team has a fighting chance at a big upset. This is the time of year that Toronto always seem to turn it up a notch, though, so the Reds are a rightful favorite.
Philadelphia Union vs. New England Revolution
Tue., 8 pm ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes in US; TSN3 in Canada
The Supporters’ Shield-winning Union have their first trophy, but an MLS Cup would make their glorious 2020 an even more historic season. But their first task will be a hard one in taking on a Revs side that is finally fit and firing and showed what they can look like in their 2-1 Play-In Round win over the Montreal Impact.
Carles Gil, Gustavo Bou and Adam Buksa are healthy and fit at the same time, making this Revs group as potent as they’ve been all season. Still, the Union won the Shield for a reason, and they’ve been lights-out on their home turf of Subaru Park (9-0-0), so you have to think of Bruce Arena’s men as the underdogs here.
Seattle Sounders vs. LAFC
Tue., 10:30 pm ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes in US; TSN 1/4 in Canada
LAFC will have revenge on the mind as they head to the newly named Lumen Field to take on the Sounders, who knocked the Black & Gold out of the playoffs in shocking fashion in the 2019 Western Conference Championship.
Bob Bradley’s group will be shorthanded without Golden Boot Winner Diego Rossi, winger Brian Rodriguez, midfielder Jose Cifuentes and defender Diego Palacios, but if there’s a group with the confidence and depth to withstand that many absences, it might just be LAFC. The Sounders are always a dominant home team though, and will be much closer to first strength, led by the ever-potent attacking unit of Best XI selections Nicolas Lodeiro, Jordan Morris and Raul Ruidiaz. This rematch is another must-watch bout in the Round One slate.
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