As many of the major European football leagues head toward the busy schedule of the holiday season, the MLS is in the winding down stage. This coming week will see the second legs played in the MLS Conference Finals, with the winner of each heading on to the final. There is a very distinct possibility that we might see a repeat of the final from last year, especially given how the first legs in each played out. The Columbus Crew and Houston Dynamo will have something to say about that, but both are going to have some work too if they want to keep their MLS Cup hopes alive. Let’s take a closer look at the second le match-ups in the MLS Eastern and Western Conference Finals, and review each game plus the respective MLS odds for each match.

Eastern Conference Final Second Leg

Toronto FC v Columbus Crew
Date/Time: Wed, Nov 29
Location: BMO Field, Toronto, Ontario
TV: FS1, TSN 1/4/5, TVAS
Previous Score: 0-0
Odds: Toronto FC -1

This is perhaps the better of the two match-ups, as the outcome is still very much in the balance. This version of Toronto FC is considered by many to be the best team that has ever played in the MLS, but they can only really claim to be that if they go on and win MLS CUP. They did the hard part in leg one, going into Columbus and coming away with a 0-0 tie.

Toronto FC v Columbus Crew conference finals game 1

This was always going to be the likely outcome, especially when you consider that they were without the services of Jozy Altidore and former league MVP Sebastian Giovinco, both of whom will return for this one. Toronto went an impressive 13-1-3 at home this season, so need to be considered firm favorites here.

The Columbus Crew have made the headlines for all the wrong reasons late in the season, as most of the talk has been about the franchise potentially being moved to Austin, Texas. This group of players has done a fabulous job of shutting out the moving talk, and have actually used it as a rallying cry this postseason.

The Crew has the feeling of a team with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove to an owner who seems intent on getting out of Dodge. That may not be enough to get the job done against Toronto, though, especially when you consider that the Crew went just 4-9-4 on the road in the regular season. They do have big road wins over Atlanta and New York City in the postseason, though.

Prediction: Toronto FC 2 Columbus Crew 0

Western Conference Final Second Leg

Houston Dynamo vs Seattle Sounders
Date/Time: Thu, Nov 30 – 10:30 PM ET
Location: Seattle, CenturyLink Field
TV: USA: ESPN & ESPN Deportes
Previous Score: Sounders won 2-0
Odds: Seattle -0.5

It is often said that you can’t win a playoff series in the first leg, but you can almost certainly lose it. The Houston Dynamo have dug themselves a huge hole after losing 2-0 at home to the Seattle Sounders in the first leg of this final. They went down early in that one, and their problems became even worse when they were reduced to 10 men in the first half. That they only surrendered two goals playing with a man short for so long is a small victory.

The Dynamo were great at home all year but only managed a single win on the road in the regular season. That said, they did go into Portland and get a win in the divisional final, but that was against a seriously weakened Timbers squad.

Houston Dynamo vs Seattle Sounders conference finals game 1

This Seattle Sounders team looks a lot like the one that won it all last year against Toronto FC. Seattle once again saved their best football for the later stages of the season, getting on a roll in the final few weeks. The Sounders have been on cruise control for a while now, and have not really had any real pressure applied to them during their playoff run. Bagging a pair of road goals in the first leg makes this one look like a formality, especially with Seattle boasting an 11-1-5 record at home during the regular season.

Prediction: Seattle Sounders 3 Houston Dynamo 1

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