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DSS Roundtable: Predicting The MLS Playoffs Knockout Round

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Who will advance? Our “experts” let you know.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Seattle Sounders FC Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

The MLS Cup playoffs begin tonight with the knockout round. In this round, eight teams vie for four spots in the conference semi-finals. These are one-match playoffs instead of two-legged affairs. Of course the Dirty South Soccer staff had to give our two cents on who we think will advance to the next round. Here’s our picks with extra super-duper scientific reasoning:

Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union (Oct. 26, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2)

Parker Cleveland:

Toronto gets a gimmie in their first game as the Union have gone winless in their last seven matches and have looked bad and tired doing it. Philly is so bad that to make the playoffs New England needed to win this week, the Union needed to lose, and the Revs needed to make up a 12 goal deficit, and they got to within five goals of doing it. Toronto has also struggled as of late, only winning one of their last six, but they just got Sebastian Giovinco back from injury and are generally a more talented team so I'm confident in their chances. Pick: Toronto FC

Haris Kruskic:

I haven't been overly impressed with the Union all season, even after they added Bedoya. Pick: Toronto FC

Rob Usry:

Toronto FC have never advanced in the playoffs. Philadelphia Union aren't a very good soccer team. Literally anything can happen here, but I'll go with Toronto because Jozy Altidore is going to finally show up on the big stage and carry TFC through. Pick: Toronto FC

Jon Nelson:

I just think TFC is unbeatable (or as close to that word as you can get, anyway) at home at BMO. And, while I think Union can score, Giovinco being back is a danger to the rest of the east right now. Pick: Toronto FC

Brendan Joseph:

Sebastian Giovinco is too good for a slumping Philadelphia defense that struggles to close down on attackers. The Union have grown by leaps and bounds, but they're still a year away from being a serious contender. The Maurice Edu injury hurts, and Andre Blake can't overcome an out of sorts back line. Pick: Toronto FC

Eric Quintana:

I'm going with Union simply because I went to a Union game this year. I believe I'm the reason they've such great success. Who is Giovinco? Bradley? Altidore? Pick: Philadelphia Union

Jason Longshore:

The Reds haven't lost to Philadelphia since 2014 and they won't break that streak in the knockout round. Pick: Toronto 2-0.

Aaron Bauer:

Toronto wins. Philly is a lot like RSL. They started off real well, then white-knuckled their way into the playoffs dropping as many points as they could along the way. They could steal this one, because Toronto never lives up to expectations, but I just don't see it. Pick: Toronto FC

Sam Franco:

I went on a date with a Canadian girl the other day, and it was very pleasant. On the other hand, Philadelphia is home to the best sandwich I've ever had (DiNic's Roast Pork in the Reading Terminal Market... look it up). Jozy Altidore has had a very good season, and I don't see that ending here. Plus, Giovinco is back healthy. Pick: Toronto FC

D.C. United vs. Montreal Impact (Oct. 27, 7:30 p.m., UniMas)

Parker Cleveland:

D.C. United comes into the post-season as the hottest team in the Eastern Conference having pulled off a stuffing transformation from a drab, bus-parking side with the tactical nous of a Charles Dickens novel to an energetic, attacking side that is, dare I say, fun to watch. Montreal is led by MVP candidate Ignacio Piatti but they finished the season with inconsistent results and nearly slid out of the playoffs. This game shapes up to be very entertaining with lots of chances for each team to score goals but in the end I think D.C. won't be stopped in the first round. Pick: D.C. United

Haris Kruskic:

Regardless of what sport is being played, always go with the team that is hot heading into the playoffs. Pick: D.C. United

Rob Usry:

I picked Montreal to win MLS Cup. That's...not happening. They are in a state of disarray with Didier Drogba doing any and everything besides caring about playing for the Impact. They are a sitting duck and D.C. United will finish them off. Pick: D.C. United

Jon Nelson:

I'll go Montreal here on the back of Piatti. But my one reservation is the Drogba hangover. How much of an impact is that absence/presence of the row going to carry over? If he's fed up, this could disrupt the room and give it to PHI.Their mind might be on other things. Pick: Montreal Impact

Brendan Joseph:

Montreal is a dangerous team that can score a lot of goals on the right day, but it won't be this game. The partnership of Lloyd Sam and Patrick Mullins is positively lethal. Credit to whomever signed off on those mid-season trades because those two players could lead D.C. United to its fifth MLS Cup. Pick: D.C. United

Eric Quintana:

Too much drama going on in Montreal right now. After last year's one-and-done, DC United will be coming out looking to advance. I want to give the edge to DC but I have a feeling Montreal might squeaking out. Pick: Montreal Impact

Jason Longshore:

The book that will eventually be written about the end of Didier Drogba's run in Montreal should be highly entertaining. The Impact have fallen apart over the last few months after looking like MLS Cup contenders in the summer. D.C. has been rejuvenated after adding Patrick Mullins and will handle this one easily. Pick: D.C. United 3-1

Aaron Bauer:

Let's go with a Canadian sweep and take Montreal. I thought Drogba would swallow his pride and come off the bench for this game, but apparently he is not travelling with the team. Still, I can't in good conscious root for DC so, still Montreal wins this one on the road. Allez les bleus. Pick: Montreal Impact

Sam Franco:

Back to my date the other night, the Canadian said that Montreal is a very fun city where "the drinking age is merely a suggestion". That being said, I've had loads of fun every time I've been to our nation's capital. However, I have a hard time pulling for any team from DC due to the Nationals being from there (Go Braves). Also, maybe Drogba actually will accept his super sub role, but probably not. Pick: Montreal Impact

LA Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake (Oct. 26, 10:30 p.m., UniMas)

Parker Cleveland:

Real Salt Lake comes into the playoffs having scored two goals in their last six games. It is weird to think of a team that was third in the West as backing into the playoffs, but LA has only won three games since August. LA has a lot of depth and experience, which is a nice way to say they are old and don't like to ride on airplanes, and they have Landon Donovan and Giovani Dos Santos so I think they'll win this one. Pick: LA Galaxy

Haris Kruskic:

Bruce Arena knows how to win this late in the season. Pick: LA Galaxy

Rob Usry:

There's always that one team that is a thorn in your side. In the Western conference that team always seems to be Real Salt Lake. LA Galaxy have the more talented team and the home-field advantage, but I see this being the one match-up where playoff ridiculousness reigns supreme. RSL advance on PK's. Pick: Real Salt Lake

Jon Nelson:

I have to go with the old guys here. My whole vibe is that this is Keane and Gerrards last dash and they'll be around for a while. LAG are my pick for the west so I can't change now, right? Pick: LA Galaxy

Brendan Joseph:

Don't pick against Bruce Arena in the playoffs. You'll be right more often than not. With Landon Donovan back in the mix, they're a sentimental dark horse. Pick: LA Galaxy

Eric Quintana:

I think Galaxy throttle RSL in this one. LA scored eight goals of the two matches they played during the season. I see too many weapons for RSL to defend. Plus, LA is at home. Pick: LA Galaxy

Jason Longshore:

RSL hasn't won in their last six games. The Galaxy haven't exactly been lighting it up lately, but they're in better form than RSL and will get it done Wednesday night. Pick: LA Galaxy 1-0

Aaron Bauer:

LA takes this one easily. RSL has been dreadful as of late and needed a Portland blowout to stay in the playoff hunt. LA has real problems, but should easily dispatch this in a one-off game. Pick: LA Galaxy

Sam Franco:

This one is easy for me. I am a Landon Donovan lifer. He will score the winning goal in this game because he is a LegenD and I will scream GO GO USA in my worst Ian Darke impression when he does. Plus, I will never pick Salt Lake to win anything because their name is stupid (yeah, I said it). Pick: LA Galaxy

Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting Kansas City (Oct. 27, 10:00 p.m., FS1)

Parker Cleveland:

The Sounders enter the playoffs having accomplished one of the most impressive turnarounds in MLS history, going form 9th place in July when they changed coaches, and got Nico Lodeiro, to 4th entering the post-season. Sporting Kansas City is 5th in the West and I think that is their identity this season: a good team that can score but leaks goals on defense that has been a steady, underwhelming team. I'll take Seattle with their momentum and home crowd atmosphere in this one. Pick: Seattle Sounders

Haris Kruskic:

Same reason as D.C. United, I'm going with the in-form team. Pick: Seattle Sounders

Rob Usry:

I don't like Sporting Kansas City. Pick: Seattle Sounders

Jon Nelson:

I like Seattle here. Ever since Lodeiro showed up, it's been a different bunch and I don't think Sporting can match their firepower... Pick: Seattle Sounders

Brendan Joseph:

This is a complete toss up. Sporting is a fun team that always manages to hang around, but Seattle has a certain "something" right now. Nicolas Lodeiro and Jordan Morris are making magic together. I'm not someone who buys into home field advantage or an intimidating crowd, but CenturyLink Field gets the benefit of the doubt on this one. Pick: Seattle Sounders

Eric Quintana:

Seattle all day in this one. Once at the bottom of the Western Conference table, they've made quite the resurgence and are the team no club in these playoffs wants to face. They're clicking at the right time, much like Portland was last year. Pick: Seattle Sounders

Jason Longshore:

Home teams are 10-2 in the Knockout Round in MLS history, and if there's one game that I think will go against that record, it's this one. SKC beat Seattle twice this season, including the 3-0 dismantling that saw the Sigi Schmid era come to an end. Sporting will pull the upset and advance. Pick: Sporting Kansas City 2-1

Aaron Bauer:

Seattle wins. Seattle has been incredibly hot of late, after looking dead in the water halfway through the season. It just goes to show you that MLS doesn't matter until September. They could go far. Pick: Seattle Sounders

Sam Franco:

What Starbucks FC has been able to do after Clint Dempsey went on the shelf and after they fired Sigi Schmid has been truly remarkable. They just seem to have that team of destiny thing going on, and Sporting Good Barbecue won't be able to overcome that. Pick: Seattle Sounders