The MLS Cup play-offs started over the weekend with the first four of six first-round games. The first round will finish on Tuesday when Nashville SC hosts Orlando City SC in the Eastern Conference and Seattle Sounders host Real Salt Lake in the West.
The Conference semi-finals get under way on Thursday with a televised Thanksgiving game. Two of the other three semi-finals will take place on Sunday, while the game at New England Revolution takes place on Tuesday, November 30.
NYCFC come alive in second half
Yankee Stadium has always been kind and comfortable to NYCFC with just five losses at the venerable baseball stadium. Sunday's quarter-final game against Atlanta United was scoreless at the half and the visitors had the better of the possession and more corners.
However, Golden Boot winner Valentin Castellanos got the Pigeons on the board in the 49th minute. He may have mishit the volley off a corner but he bounced the ball right over the head of a confused Brad Guzan in Atlanta's goal.
Four minutes later Alexander Callens doubled the NYCFC lead as he beat Guzan with a header off a rebound. The goal again came off a corner after the initial shot hit the post before Callens headed it home.
NYCFC get some extra time off before they head to Supporters' Shield winner New England in nine days. Odds for that game are not yet available.
Union win thanks to stunner
Rivals Philadelphia Union and New York Red Bulls played to a scoreless stalemate through 90 minutes on Saturday. After 30 minutes of extra time, there still wasn't a winner and it appeared the match was headed to penalty kicks. But the Union got a free-kick and the ball bounced through the box before coming all the way out where defender Jakob Glesnes rocketed a volley into the back of the net for a 123rd-minute winner.
With the win, the Union stay at home for the semi-finals at Subaru Park. They will host the Nashville/Orlando City winner on Sunday evening. According to Planet Sport Bet, Nashville are 10/11 to win on Tuesday night, while Orlando City are 14/5 and a draw is 23/10.
Blanco rescues Timbers
Minnesota United got bad news pregame when goalkeeper Tyler Miller tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to miss the clash with Portland Timbers. However, they struck first when Franco Fragapane scored in the 11th minute. Larrys Mabiala tied the game just before half-time to send Providence Park into a frenzy.
Battling an injured back, Sebastian Blanco took over in the second half. He scored in the first minute of the half to give Portland the lead and made it 3-1 in the 66th minute. Minnesota ended up with six shots on goal but back-up goalie Dayne St Clair made just one save.
Portland now travel to top-seeded Colorado Rapids for a Thanksgiving day semi-final. Planet Sport Bet has the Rapids at 8/13 to advance to the Western Conference final while the Timbers are 7/2 and a draw after 90 minutes is 3/1.
Sporting KC make a statement
After spending much of the season in one of the top two spots in the West, Sporting KC fell into third place on the last weekend of the regular season. They didn't let the disappointment carry onto the field though as they hammered Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1 on Saturday.
Khiry Shelton scored the opener in the 17th minute off an assist from veteran Graham Zusi. The Whitecaps tied the game with a 39th-minute penalty kick before Nicolas Isimat-Mirin put the hosts back on top in the first-half stoppage time. Zusi finished off the game with a goal in the 58th minute as SKC outshot Vancouver 12-5.
In the semi-finals on Sunday, SKC will either host No. 7 seed Real Salt Lake or travel to No. 2 Seattle Sounders. According to Planet Sport Bet, that quarter-final match-up on Tuesday has Seattle as 4/6 favourites with RSL at 10/3 and a draw at 14/5.