Sixteen has melted down to eight at the MLS is Back Tournament, so the next logical step is weighing each quarterfinal matchup to figure out which teams will reach the semifinals.
LAFC vs. Orlando City
Oh, poor Orlando City. Just when the long-suffering club has finally found a winning stride, the luck of the draw hands them LAFC. Bob Bradley's boys have had no problem reaching full stampede without Carlos Vela. Their 4-1 demolition of Seattle was a loud warning to the rest of the field.
The midfield trio constantly disrupted Nicolas Lodeiro and friends, Diego Rossi scored another two goals and they even got a huge save from Kenneth Vermeer while the game was still on the line. With their newfound solidity and structure, one might think the Lions could flirt with a huge upset if they corral Rossi and Brian Rodriguez. That, of course, is far easier said than done. It's been fun, but Orlando's MLS is Back run looks set to end.
Minnesota United vs. San Jose
The Earthquakes have been pretty darn impressive down in Orlando, harassing opponents into mistakes on their stroll to the quarterfinals. Fresh from knocking off Columbus without the services of Kevin Molino and Ike Opara, Minnesota United enter this duel unbeaten in 2020. Suffice it to say that either side can survive this showdown.
In fact, my pick switched what seemed like a dozen times. In the end, I'll go with the trend. The Loons have found ways around and/or through the Quakes' relentless marking scheme since Matias Almeyda took them over, cruising to three straight wins by a combined 11-3 count. I tabbed the gutsy Loons for a deep run before the tournament began, and there's no need to desert them now.
New York City FC vs. Portland
It's another fairly even matchup, but one where each team took different paths to the quarterfinals. The Timbers eased through the group stage but lived dangerously against FC Cincinnati in the last round. Meanwhile, NYCFC got drab results from decent performances during the group phase before busting out in a major way against Toronto FC in the Round of 16.
The Bronx bunch will definitely test Portland far more than FC Cincinnati did. That could be a problem for the Timbers, who have gotten away with some mistakes thus far in Orlando. Now that Maxi Moralez is back at the NYCFC attacking reins, I'm thinking that won't happen again.