After a two-week respite, Round One of the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs is almost upon us. The action kicks off on Saturday with Atlanta United hosting the New England Revolution in the first of four games that day before the round is complete with the remaining two games on Saturday. For all 12 teams involved this weekend, with Supporters' Shield winners LAFC and top seed in the East NYCFC lying in wait, just three wins separate them from the glory of hoisting the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy on November 10.
But who will make it through that first hurdle and who will quickly be cast aside? We asked our experts on MLSsoccer.com to weigh in with their predictions. After reading through what they have to say, go and make your own choices and take part in our Bracket Challenge.
Atlanta United vs. New England Revolution (1 pm ET | Univision, TUDN in US; TVAS, TSN in Canada)
Matt Doyle: This would be a huge, shocking upset... but kinda not really if you watched these teams on Decision Day presented by AT&T. The Revs could've won that one. This time they will.
Bobby Warshaw: New England, because smug Bruce is the best Bruce.
Susannah Collins: Atlanta wins this one. A healthy Josef combined with the Benz makes them tough to bet against.
Calen Carr: New England have done so well to give themselves a chance, but ultimately too much quality/experience in Atlanta United.
Andrew Wiebe: You’ll notice I’m picking all home teams/top seeds. I think this weekend will prove the regular season matters. The much-improved Revs may be the ones hosting next year – and they got a break with Miles Robinson’s injury – but they don’t have Josef Martinez. The champs handle business at the Benz.
Tom Bogert: Atlanta will have too much Josef.
Ben Baer: Revs. Going to go out on a limb here but the Miles Robinson loss is a huge one and ATL won’t put enough fires without him.
Seattle Sounders vs. FC Dallas (3:30 pm ET | FOX Sports TBD in US; TVAS/TSN App in Canada)
' historical struggles in Seattle
, and their awful form on the road this year, there is no good reason to pick them. And yet...
Warshaw: Seattle, because watching a Cascadia rivalry match would be great.
Carr: Dallas have lost big in their last two matches on the road. The experience of Seattle in the small margins make this a relatively straightforward win for the Sounders.
My heart says Dallas because they’ll have some momentum coming off that big Decision Day performance
. My head says Seattle because well, it’s Seattle and they know a thing or two about the playoffs. Going with the emotional pick. Dallas pulls off the upset.
Wiebe: The Sounders seem to struggle to break down organized teams that sit back. Dallas will do that, I expect, then try to get out on the break via turnovers and the legs of Michael Barrios. Still, I’m not picking against the been-there-done-that gamers in that Seattle squad.
Dallas making the playoffs in a transition season is an achievement in and of itself, but they have an uphill battle against Lodeiro
and Seattle. Too much firepower.
Baer: Too much talent for Seattle, not enough experience for Dallas.
Toronto FC vs. D.C. United (6 pm ET | TUDN in US; TSN4, TVAS2 in Canada)
I'm not confident Jozy
's going to be available, and if Jozy's not available TFC
, because Toronto used up all of its mojo this week.
Collins: Going with Toronto here who are playing at home and have sneakily been one of the strongest teams over the past couple months.
Carr: With the questions around Jozy’s health I think this tilts towards the road team. Regardless of the lack of goal production, in the playoffs I don’t pick against a team that hasn’t conceded in five.
Wiebe: Soooooo how’s that quad, Jozy? If it’s good, NYCFC are gonna be a little nervous. If it’s not, D.C. might just spring the upset. Their backline is solid, Bill Hamid is often spectacular and Wayne Rooney is back. But the goals have dried up, and you gotta score to win … so I’m playing it safe and picking the home team.
Bogert: Reminder: D.C. United have not conceded a goal since August 24 — AUGUST 24! D.C. to progress.
TFC without Jozy don’t have enough pieces to beat a Bennyballing United and Bill Hamid
Real Salt Lake vs. Portland Timbers (10 pm ET | ESPNews in US; TVAS, TSN4 in Canada)
Doyle: Homefield advantage matters in the regular season, and historically speaking matters even more in the playoffs.
Warshaw: See Seattle.
is the sexy pick here but I’m going with Portland
for no other reason than I just have a hunch.
Carr: Portland have used momentum in season’s past, but this RSL team has been flying under the radar and is in good form under Juarez.
Wiebe: This is my one “reach,” which I’m sure RSL supporters won’t take well. Thing is, despite finishing third in the West, the Claret & Cobalt didn’t do much against their fellow playoff teams. Portland has more talent, even without Brian Fernandez, and won both games this year. I just don’t think they’ll get three. Going with my gut.
? Playoff Valeri. Portland takes it.
Philadelphia Union vs. New York Red Bulls (3 pm ET | FS1, TSN4, TVAS2, Fox Deportes)
have just been better than the Red Bulls this year. Time for their first postseason dub.
, because BWP
scoring the game-winner in a playoff game would be good for the soul.
Collins: This one is tough but I’m picking Philly because it feels like it’s their time to make some noise in the playoffs and I simply don’t trust the Red Bulls in the post-season, sorry.
Carr: The Union stretch the field better than any team in the Eastern conference, which RBNY has not dealt with well lately (see last MTL match).
Wiebe: Kacper the friendly striker is good to go, according to Jim Curtin. Alejandro Bedoya is training fully. I want to believe the Union are going to do what they’re supposed to do in a big game, even if history says that’s a bit naïve. Make some new history, Philadelphia!
The Red Bulls — a team the Union have struggled with over the years — is a sneaky tough matchup for the Union, but with Bedoya
fully healthy, the Union should get it done.
Baer: Red Bulls have gritted out a lot of points this year but that will end here.