As we get down to the nitty gritty of the Audi 2020 MLS Playoffs, picking winners becomes harder if only because everyone left fully deserves a place in the final four.
One can make a reasonable advertisement for the virtues of each team left in the title chase, and well, we've already seen over the past couple weeks that anything can happen when the MLS postseason arrives.
Before we get into the Western Conference final predictions a quick update of my playoff track record after a successful last round. I hit on three of the final four, with only New England making me look foolish. That brings my playoff mark to 10-4, which is quite acceptable to me.
That’s squared away, so let's set up the next episode.
Seattle Sounders vs. Minnesota United FC
Monday, Dec. 7 @ 9:30 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes in US, TSN, TVA Sports in Canada
Fresh off slaying a road demon in Kansas City, could the Loons possibly do it again against the oft-rampant defending champs? That is a big question, of course. Minnesota have dropped all three previous games in Seattle (even if each was close at the end), and are yet to beat them anywhere in seven series tries. And this is the Sounders we're talking about. In the postseason. At home. This is no small ask.
Despite everything they're up against, it's a question worth considering. Adrian Heath's boys are gutsy, perhaps more complete than they've been since March and unbeaten since late September. They're also brimming with hot hands, from Dayne St. Clair and Michael Boxall to Kevin Molino and Emanuel Reynoso. This team will definitely bend, but they just find ways to get the job done. Another away upset almost feels possible.
Then you remember who they need to tackle, and where, and when. You remember that the Sounders come in playing their best defense of the year and that they’re on the verge of their fourth final in five years. You remember that Brian Schmetzer has his own swarm of players in championship form, and not for the first time.
Once you also note that Minnesota will have a long-ish flight with two fewer days of rest at the tail end of a long, strange season, an inevitable outcome seems clear enough. The Loons will give them a good fight, but the firm of Nicolas Lodeiro, Jordan Morris and Raul Ruidiaz will be the ones who find a way this time. Let's say Seattle 2-1.