Game 1 of the Conference Semi-finals will take place on Monday as the New York Red Bulls play host to Greg Vanney’s high-flying Toronto FC. The visitors were recently crowned as the regular season champions after recording the highest points total in Major League Soccer history – and it would take a brave man to back against the Canadian outfit here.
On home soil, Red Bulls fans will be quietly confident of emerging victorious in the opening encounter of the series but Toronto will have other ideas. Winning against Vanney’s side is a rare occurrence but you’d have to feel that New York must take full advantage of any home games in order to push the Canadians close. On paper, Toronto look too strong.
The importance of this encounter from New York might have swayed a few bookmakers into pricing the Red Bulls as favourites for this clash. Their price varies as per usual but the 11/8 available with 10Bet might be the pick of the bunch in terms of value. The Red Bulls have been there and done it on the biggest stage of all and they have the experience and quality to cause problems for Toronto here.
Or perhaps you fancy the draw? In what is a “mustn’t lose” kind of game, the draw will carry plenty of appeal for punters and 9/4 with 888sport is well worth a second look. Toronto will be determined to avoid defeat and the Red Bulls might not have enough to keep the visitors at bay – it looks set to be a close fixture and a share of the spoils may be on the cards.
If you want to go with the longer term form of Toronto, that is understandable – Bet365 are going 2/1 on an away triumph here. That price may seem reasonable given their efforts over the course of the regular season but the pressure is different during the playoffs. The added tension of knowing that defeat could end your chances of winning the MLS Cup may play on a few minds; winning the psychological battle is crucial.
Individual Goal Scorers
Sebastian Giovinco is the key to success for Toronto. Jozy Altidore has attracted plenty of attention in recent months and rightly so but the little Italian is Toronto’s main man and he can be the difference maker throughout the postseason. Prices aren’t available just yet on Giovinco to open the scoring but he is almost destined to play a pivotal role and it would take a brave man to back against the Toronto star.
For New York, look no further than Bradley Wright-Phillips. In the playoffs, you have to trust your star players to perform and the Red Bulls striker has been one of the main men in Major League Soccer for many years. Like Giovinco, he has fired the Red Bulls to victory on multiple occasions and he could be the one to watch. Backing Wright-Phillips to score at any time during the contest is the way to go.
Other Side Bets
As previously mentioned, a tight contest looks likely here – the 6/5 available for under 2.5 goals with Bet365 is arguably the best bet ahead of the weekend. Toronto are always in with a decent chance of scoring but avoiding defeat is the most important aspect here. A draw or even a slender victory is an absolute must and that could mean a low scoring affair.
Another potential option to consider is for ‘NO’ in the goal in both halves market. The first half will almost certainly be cagey and this looks a fairly safe wager.
- Match to end a draw @ 9/4 with 888sport
- Under 2.5 goals @ 6/5 with Bet365
- Goal in both halves (NO) @ 32/25 with Marathon Bet