Saturday MLS Playoffs Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: Columbus vs. New York Red Bulls (Nov. 21)
Emilee Chinn/Getty Images. Pictured: Columbus Crew star Gyasi Zardes, center, and his teammates.
Columbus vs. RBNY Odds
|Columbus Odds||-114 [BET NOW]|
|RBNY Odds||+270 [BET NOW]|
|Draw||+280 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||2.5 (-150/+110) [BET NOW]|
|Time||3 p.m. ET|
Things could get pretty interesting Saturday when Columbus hosts the New York Red Bulls in the first round of the Major League Soccer playoffs.
These sides have met just once so far this season, with the third-seeded Crew earning a 2-0 win over the sixth-seeded Red Bulls at the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando.
However, RBNY got the best of its opposition in the conference semifinal round of postseason play in 2018, when it eliminated Columbus on a 3-1 aggregate total across two matches.
The Crew will surely have that disappointing elimination on their mind when the whistle blows at MAPFRE Stadium in what should be an exciting tilt.
With that all said, let’s take a look at what might be in store.
To say Columbus had a rollercoaster of a regular season would be an understatement.
The Crew were well on their way to a possible top seed before some key injuries and poor performances led to a stretch of matches that saw them earn just one win in seven outings. Fortunately for Columbus, the ailing players returned to full health to help it finish with two wins in its last three fixtures.
Striker Gyasi Zardes was one of those players manager Caleb Porter welcomed back with open arms. Zardes, who leads Columbus with nine goals, and teammate Darlington Nagbe make the engine go for a club that would not surprise anyone if made it all the way to MLS Cup.
Also noteworthy is the fact Columbus could be playing its final game at MAPFRE Stadium. The venue, which debuted in 1999 as the league’s first soccer-specific stadium, will turn into the club’s new training facility. The Crew are slated to move into a new downtown stadium at the start of next season.
Columbus concluded the regular season with relatively average statistical data. The Crew finished with 30.8 expected goals for and 29.9 expected goals against, yielding a +0.9 xGDiff and +0.04 xGDiff/90 minutes. Columbus’ xGDiff wound up just seventh overall out 14 teams in the conference standings.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is an advanced statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as luck or outstanding goalkeeping.
New York Red Bulls
The Red Bulls have also had an up-and-down season, but seem to have found their footing at the right time like their counterparts.
Unbeaten in six of their last seven games, RBNY has what it takes to go on another postseason run if it can continue that recent run of form. The Red Bulls are the definition of balanced on offense, with no player having scored more than five goals this season.
In my opinion, it’s been a new face on the RBNY scene who generated this current tear. Caden Clark, the 17-year-old wunderkind, signed with the club October 10 and has been the talk of the league.
Clark, who scored is his debut, delivered this golazo during a 1-1 tie against Toronto FC the following match:
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) October 15, 2020
Bottom line, Clark gave the Red Bulls that missing spark they seemed to lack prior to his arrival, translating into a 3-1-3 record over their final seven games.
Statistically, RBNY compiled some pretty poor numbers in the advanced metrics. The Red Bulls finished with a subpar 28.1 xG and dismal 33.9 xGA, which generated even worse -5.8 xGDiff and a -0.25 xGDiff/90 minutes. New York’s xGA and xGDiff were some of the worst stats in the conference.
On paper, this has a Columbus win written all over it. The overall makeup of the clubs and data really favor the Crew, with the oddsmakers feeling the same.
However, I watched RBNY put together a complete effort in a 2-1 victory over Toronto FC in its regular-season finale, which I think could carry over here. The Red Bulls might not get the win, but they won’t go down without a fight.
That said, I am backing both teams to score and the total to go over the number in what should be a highly entertaining affair.
Columbus will be driven by the revenge factor and will want to send a message to the rest of the league that it’s ready to make a deep playoff run. On the flip side, if RBNY can continue its solid play and duplicate that most recent effort, an upset would not be out of the question in this affair.
The Bets: Total Over 2.5 Goals (-148) | Both Teams To Score — Yes (-167)