Of the 10 Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs matches so far, just twice has a team gone on the road and taken a win. And the numbers suggest that trend is going to continue in the Conference Finals.
Surprise, surprise: Home-field advantage matters in soccer. A complex idea, I know, but it spells good news for LAFC, hosting the Seattle Sounders (Tues. 10 pm ET | ESPN, TSN, TVAS), and Atlanta United, facing Toronto FC (Wed. 8 pm ET | FS1, TSN, TVAS).
Just Toronto and the LA Galaxy have found wins on the road in these playoffs, with TFC knocking off NYCFC while the Galaxy saw past Minnesota United. The former are one of the four remaining clubs, while the Galaxy's road magic didn't continue at LAFC.
While home teams have been advancing at an 80% clip this postseason, the conference finals will have two of the league's very best home teams defending their turf. LAFC and Atlanta are heavy favorites to make MLS Cup.
LAFC were 13-1-3 at the Banc of California in the regular season while Atlanta were 12-2-3 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the two best marks in the league. FiveThirtyEight gives LAFC an 81% probability at advancing, Atlanta 70%. More home cooking is expected on the playoff menu.
That won't deter the Sounders nor TFC, both teams are defiant in their task. Take us lightly, please, says Stefan Frei, while Toronto will gladly point to their Decision Day victory over Atlanta in 2018, which cost ATLUTD the Supporters' Shield.
Anything can happen in a one-game sample size, but if the goal is to put the probabilities as far in your favor as possible, home-field advantage is a great start.
Vamos to the games...