Hello there and welcome to Round 2 of the MLS Playoffs. We have two games tonight and one more on Sunday afternoon before we get to the rumble at Q2, yet all of those results could have a major impact on Austin before we ever kick a ball this week.
If LAFC, Philadelphia, Montreal, and Austin all win this weekend, ATXFC will qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League next season. But that also means that ATXFC will be on the road for the final two rounds of the playoffs.
Let’s start piecing together the puzzle.
Philadelphia Union vs FC Cincinnati – Thursday @ 7:00 p.m. (FS1)
The first game in tonight’s double-header may look lopsided on paper but take this fact into account. During the regular season, there was only one Eastern Conference team that Philly failed to beat. That team?
Cincinnati drew the Union at Subaru Park in June and then spanked Philadelphia 3-1 at home in August. Philly has been going full HULK SMASH on pretty much everyone for the last month, but something about FCC makes this game fascinating. They are riding high after a comeback win on the road in Round 1 and have a game changing striker in Brandon Vazquez.
From and Austin POV, a Knifey-Lions win puts us one step closer to a home MLS Cup Final. Pretty easy call in that case.
The Side: FC Cincinnati
LAFC vs L.A. Galaxy – Thursday @ 9:00 p.m. (FS1)
This was the matchup every neutral fan in MLS wanted to see when the brackets came out. El Tráfico part 4! The home team has won each of the three meetings between these two clubs this year, but this will the first time that Chiellini, Bale, and Puig will get a taste of the rivalry. Speaking of Puig, he has absolutely transformed the Galaxy attack and has potentially made them the most dangerous attack in the Western Conference.
I expect this game to be a blast. I also think we’re going 120 minutes tonight. Austin is 2-0 vs LAFC this season, but 0-2 vs the Galaxy, so conventional logic may say that we have a better shot against the Black & Gold. But I want a home Western Conference Final. There’s only one way for that to happen.
The Side: Galaxy
Club de Foot Montreal vs NYCFC – Sunday @ 12:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Montreal did in the first round what Montreal has been doing for the last half of the season, which is win. Now they get the defending MLS Cup champs at Stade Saputo for a big second round game. NYCFC dispatched Inter Miami and ended Gonzalo Higuaín’s baseball career last Monday and I wouldn’t be shocked to see them pull this one out. The Pigeons are 1-0-1 against Montreal this year, with the draw coming on the road. An NYCFC win also helps our home MLS Cup chances.
The Side: NYCFC