Who will win the conference semifinals and move on to MLS Cup? Vote now!
With the conference semifinals now behind us, the MLS playoff field is down to the final four. ESPN FC tasked its league experts Jeff Carlisle, Doug McIntyre, Graham Parker and Jason Davis to predict which sides will move on to MLS Cup.
Colorado Rapids vs. Seattle Sounders
Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle): The Rapids might not be easy on the eyes, but they get the job done, and I see that continuing in the Western Conference finals. Seattle does have some potent attacking options, especially in Nico Lodeiro. But Colorado has proved adept at shutting down high-powered offenses all season, and I don't see this changing, especially if Jermaine Jones and Shkelzen Gashi can stay healthy.
Doug McIntyre (@DougMacESPN): Seattle has been great so far, but with Jermaine Jones healthy again and Tim Howard atop his game, there's an air of destiny around this Rapids team after they eliminated the LA Galaxy on penalties.
Jason Davis (@davisjsn): It's time to stop doubting the Rapids and their ability to score enough goals in the playoffs. With a shutdown defense and just enough in the attack to get by, Pablo Mastroeni's team will move past Seattle and reach an unlikely MLS Cup final.
Graham Parker (@KidWeil): Colorado's trickiest opponents in these playoff configurations were probably going to be the Galaxy, but the limitations of LA in the second leg should send a warning to the Rapids' opponents about what can happen to a lead in Denver. It wasn't a great game, but it never threatened to get away from the hosts. And whatever their limitations, defensive concentration isn't one of them, so if Seattle wants to take a Dallas-style lead into the second leg it'll have to do it the hard way (and hope Jordan Morris' injury isn't a longer-term concern). It all adds up to Rapids being favorites to progress and then host MLS Cup.
Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact
Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle): I really think this is Toronto's cup to lose now. Granted, it's a rivalry matchup with Montreal, and the Impact have certainly looked lethal on the counter, but I just think Toronto has too many guys who are in form to let an opportunity to go to the MLS Cup final slip away.
Doug McIntyre (@DougMacESPN): It's hard to bet against the Impact after they upset D.C. United and then the New York Red Bulls to reach the final four. Opening the series at 61,000-seat Olympic Stadium will help against Toronto, too.
Jason Davis (@davisjsn): Toronto FC looks like a team on a mission after its 5-0 win at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. With Jozy Altidore in amazing form and Sebastian Giovinco capable of taking over games on his own, TFC is the pick to emerge from the all-Canadian Eastern Conference final.
Graham Parker (@KidWeil): This has the potential to be a fascinating exam for Toronto, especially with the first leg taking place in the surreal environment of the Olympic Stadium, but if the Reds aren't undone by what happens there, they have the creative difference-makers to unlock even Montreal's bunkering specialists and I think they'll get the job done back home to avenge 2015.
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