MLS Cup Playoffs 2013: Schedule and Predictions for Thursday's Action

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MLS Cup Playoffs 2013: Schedule and Predictions for Thursday's Action
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The MLS Cup playoffs head back to the pitch on Thursday with the second leg of the Western Conference semifinals.  

Holding a 2-1 lead, the Portland Timbers will host the Seattle Sounders. Meanwhile, Real Salt Lake will host the Los Angeles Galaxy facing a 1-0 deficit.

With just a one-goal difference in both matchups, it sets up an exciting Thursday.

Check out the full schedule below, and then I'll offer up predictions for Thursday's games. 

MLS Playoff Schedule
Western Conference Semifinals: Second Leg
Matchup Date/Time (ET)
Real Salt Lake vs. L.A. Galaxy Thurs., Nov. 7 at 9 p.m.
Portland vs. Seattle Thurs., Nov. 7 at 11 p.m.
Eastern Conference Finals
Matchup Date/Time (ET)
First Leg Sat., Nov. 9 at 2:30 p.m.
Second Leg Nov. 23 or 24 (TBA)
Western Conference Finals
Matchup Date/Time (ET)
First Leg Sun., Nov. 10 at 9 p.m.
Second Leg Nov. 23 or 24 (TBA)
2013 MLS Cup
Matchup Date/Time (ET)
West champion vs. East champion Sat., Dec. 7 at 4 p.m.

Source: MLSsoccer.com

 

Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The Sounders found great success with the 4-4-2 lineup in the previous round against the Colorado Rapids. However, that wasn't quite as effective against the Timbers.

Portland's width and ball control spread out and frustrated that formation, and if it wasn't for a late goal by Osvaldo Alonso, Seattle would be facing an even more dire position.

So, what do the Sounders do now?

Seattle has to aggressively look for goals to try and steal this series while on the road, but with Portland's ability to maintain possession and launch counters, that is not going to work out well.

Portland only lost one game at home all season and that was back in March. I don't see that streak ending on Thursday. 

Prediction: Portland 2, Seattle 0

 

Real Salt Lake vs. Los Angeles Galaxy

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

Real Salt Lake is lucky to be trailing only 1-0.

The Galaxy had no problem creating chances against Salt Lake's conservative 4-2-3-1 in the first leg. They only had problems converting those chances.

Robbie Keane alone had a couple of breakaway chances that he typically would never miss. 

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Salt Lake manager Jason Kreis was forced to abandon his conservative approach and move back to the favored 4-4-2. I would expect Kreis to forgo the conservative approach in this one as they try to find some home goals to steal the series.

Salt Lake has the firepower to pull it off. They were the highest-scoring team in the Western Conference this season. This sets up a thrilling contest.

In the end, I expect Salt Lake to nearly force extra time, but look for a late goal from Landon Donovan, the MLS all-time leading playoff goalscorer, to force the draw and a series win for the Galaxy. 

Prediction: Real Salt Lake 1, Los Angeles Galaxy 1

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