22MLS_TheDailyKickoff-Blake
What you need to know

NYCFC vs. Inter Miami playoff game moved to Citi Field

New York City FC will now host Inter Miami CF at Citi Field, rather than Red Bull Arena, for their Eastern Conference Round One game in the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs on Monday, Oct. 17, the clubs have announced. Kickoff remains scheduled for 7 pm ET (FS1, FOX Deportes in US; TSN, TVA Sports in Canada).

Voting is now open for Goal and Save of the Year

Voting for the AT&T 5G 2022 MLS Goal of the Year (vote HERE) and the 2022 MLS Save of the Year presented by Allstate (vote HERE) from this season is underway.

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Fine. Let's do some predictions

If you head down to the Reading Rainbow section (it’s cool, me and LeVar are friends), you'll see the good folks at Extratime and The Call Up made their playoff predictions. Frankly, I can’t just sit by and let them reap all the rewards of having folks screenshot and share your predictions when you get something wrong. I DEMAND PUBLICITY.

So, I’m going to share my predictions and the reasoning behind them today. And then you can share yours with me by signing up for the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs Bracket Challenge and joining The Daily Kickoff’s very own group by clicking here.

If you beat my bracket, “Tom Bogert’s Bracket”, you’ll get a shoutout in a future newsletter. The winner of the group can DM me on Twitter after the fact to claim their prize. I don’t know what that is yet. But, I dunno, maybe you’ll get to pick what the next day’s Daily Kickoff is about or something. You won’t find out unless you win.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Round One: FC Cincinnati over New York Red Bulls, NYCFC over Inter Miami, CF Montréal over Orlando City

Other than maybe Minnesota, the two Florida teams come across to me as the two weakest teams in the bracket. NYCFC and CF Montréal are two of the strongest. I don’t even really feel like I have to explain myself much there.

Cincy may take a little more explanation, but is it really that hard to imagine a team with Brenner (18g/6a), Brandon Vazquez (18g/8a) and Lucho Acosta (10g/19a) not finding a way to break through against a team that doesn’t have nearly as many match-winners? Or any at all other than maybe Lewis Morgan? Plus, the Red Bulls don’t exactly have history on their side here. And Cincinnati have never lost a playoff series!

Conference Semis: Philadelphia Union over FC Cincinnati, CF Montréal over NYCFC

I’m pretty confident in Round One. I have no idea in the Conference Semis.

My only thoughts are that the Union have the only attacking trio on par with the Knifey Lions and they also have Andre Blake. Honestly, it’s almost entirely the Andre Blake thing. I know Cincy worked the Union over the last time they met, but that was in Cincy. This is at Subaru Park. And Philly haven’t lost there all season (reports say 12W-0L-5D is good).

As far as Montréal-NYCFC goes, we still don’t know if Talles Magno, Tayvon Gray and Alfredo Morales will be good to go at this point. And even if they are, it feels like Wilfried Nancy will have CFM a little more prepared to execute at a high level. There’s a reason he’s a serious contender for Sigi Schmid Coach of the Year.

Conference Finals: Philadelphia Union over CF Montréal

Did I mention the Union have Andre Blake? Or that they haven’t lost at Subaru Park?

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Round One: LA Galaxy over Nashville SC, FC Dallas over Minnesota United, Real Salt Lake over Austin FC

LA-Nashville is about as dead even as it gets for me. Nashville seem set up as a more-likely playoff bet considering their style of play. The Galaxy have far more firepower, even with the likely league MVP (Hany Mukhtar) on the other side of the ball. I’ll just go ahead and select the home team.

Dallas are just a better soccer team than Minnesota right now. The Loons were stumbling hard down the stretch and just have a few too many issues to paper over.

And then there’s RSL. I’m going to catch some heat for that one, huh? But I’ve seen this movie before. Like…last year. I rode my “Round One RSL over Seattle” prediction to glory and I’m not afraid to do it again this year. Plus, ya know, Austin’s whole “luckiest team in MLS against their underlying numbers” thing. Plus also I just want to be in another Josh Wolff hype speech again. It’s mostly that, honestly.

Conference Semis: LA Galaxy over LAFC, FC Dallas over RSL

At first I had LAFC in MLS Cup. Then I realized how boring that was. This is MLS. It’s not boring. When has going chalk ever worked out for anyone? Besides, it’s not like LAFC routinely bring their A-game against the Galaxy. The biggest El Trafico ever will end the way most of the others have. Trust me when I say this is as sound a strategy as anything else.

Meanwhile, heart and intensity can get you far. Jesus Ferreira can get you further. I’ll lean toward Dallas here.

Conference Finals: LA Galaxy over FC Dallas

Too much Chicharito and too much Riqui Puig to handle for FC Dallas here. I know I’m ignoring a lot of the flaws that I’ve been harping on all season for LA, but most of the numbers indicate the Galaxy have been the second or third-best team in the West this season. And they’ve gotten better over the last couple of months. Making it past Nashville and LAFC is a tough, tough path to take, but I’m not just pulling this out of nowhere.

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MLS CUP

I’m 90% sure I picked the Union last year too.

Then half the team got Covid the week before the Conference Final. I don’t see that happening this time. The Union are going to see one of the most impressive seasons in MLS history through to the end and lift their first MLS Cup in club history.

Probably.

And if they don’t, remember to tag me on Twitter.

Other Things

FC Cincinnati's Brenner wins Player of the Month to close 2022 regular season: FC Cincinnati forward Brenner is the MLS Player of the Month for September/October 2022. Brenner completed his 2022 season with a bang, scoring nine goals and recording two assists in his final five regular-season games. That’s tied for the most in a five-game stretch in a single season in MLS history and helped propel Cincy to a 3W-1L-1D mark to close the campaign, while clinching their first Audi MLS Cup Playoffs berth during their fourth season in the league.

FC Cincinnati's Brenner wins Week 34 AT&T Goal of the Week: FC Cincinnati striker Brenner is ending the 2022 MLS regular season on top. The Brazilian has earned AT&T 5G Goal of the Week honors for Week 34, earning 46% of ballots following Decision Day. His top-of-the-box screamer was part of a hat-trick performance in a 5-2 rout of D.C. United that clinched Cincy’s first-ever Audi MLS Cup Playoffs bid in their fourth season.

The Reading Rainbow
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Full Time

Good luck out there. Special moments can always be improved upon.