When you look at how sports leagues across the globe have handled their return to action, you have to say that the MLS have been among the best in how they have gone about their business. The MLS is Back Tournament, which is being held in a bubble in Orlando, Florida, has been a great success, although it started out with a bit of a wobble. Dallas and Nashville were forced to withdraw before it all began due to positive tests, but it has been smooth sailing ever since. The group stage points will count towards regular season totals, while the winner of the knockout phase will win a CONCACAF Champions League spot and a cool $1.1 million. After the events of last night, we are now heading into the quarterfinal phase, so let’s take a look at the 4 games on tap.
Philadelphia Union Vs Sporting Kansas City – Thursday
Given that these two teams play in separate conferences, they only face one another once per year, so there is not much to go on in that regard. As for this tournament, Philadelphia delivered a pair of wins and a draw to take second in Group A. That won them a date with New England in the Round of 16, a match that they won 1-0. Kansas City played in a very tight Group D and managed to top it with 6 points, scoring 6 goals along the way. They played to a 0-0 tie with Vancouver before moving on via penalties in the Round of 16. I would not be surprised to see this one need penalties, too, and I am taking Philly to move on.
Orlando City Vs LAFC – Friday
You would have to say that Orlando has been one of the more pleasant surprises of this tournament, topping Group A with 7 points from their 3 games. They scored some goals in the group stage, but they needed to settle for just the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Montreal in the Round of 16. LAFC entered this tournament without the services of Carlos Vela, but they appear to be getting stronger as the tournament progresses. They hit the Galaxy for 6 in the group stage and thumped Seattle 4-1 in the Round of 16. I like LAFC to move on with a comfortable win here.
San Jose Earthquakes Vs Minnesota United – Saturday
The San Jose Earthquakes have been a lot of fun to watch in this tournament, winning their Group by going unbeaten and picking up 7 points. They really upped the ante in the Round of 16, though, putting on a great offensive show in a 5-2 win over Real Salt Lake. Minnesota United have not been getting a ton of love throughout this tournament, but they continue to keep getting results. They finished second in Group D with 5 points and the stunned Columbus, winning on penalties after a 1-1 draw. Their run ends here, though, I believe, as I like the Earthquakes to move on.
Portland Timbers Vs NYCFC – Saturday
It was perhaps a little surprising that the Portland Timbers ended up topping Group F, which was referred to as the group of death, but they certainly deserved to be there after taking 7 points from their 3 games. They had a tougher time against Cincinnati in the Round of 16, as they faced a team that essentially parked the bus. They did, though, move on via penalties after drawing 1-1. NYCFC were shaky in the group stage, picking up 3 points and moving on as one of the best 3rd place finishers. They demolished Toronto 4-1 in the Round of 16, but they look to be up against it here. Portland to win.
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