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DSS Roundtable: MLS Playoffs Conference Semifinals Predictions

Who will make the final four?

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at New York City FC Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

After an exciting opening round to the 2016 MLS Playoffs, we’re back at it again quickly on Sunday with a quadruple-header of first legs in the conference semifinals. There are some tasty match-ups in the last four. This is how our staff sees them all playing out over the two legs:

Montreal vs. New York Red Bulls, 3:00 p.m., ESPN

Aaron Bauer:

Like last year's conference semi-final, the Red bulls win 2-0 on aggregate. The fans will ignore the team's blatant struggles, and the players will assure everyone everything is fine. For a team that has been dominant since July, the clock is ticking until they finally slip up. Pick: New York Red Bulls

Brendan Joseph:

This could end up being the best of the four series. Montreal has a great group of attackers, and that's without including Didier Drogba who may or may not be participating. HOWEVER, the Red Bulls are not getting outscored over two legs. Simply not going to happen. I think Montreal wins or draws at Stade Saputo, and New York gets the necessary victory at Red Bull Arena.

The Red Bulls back line is still a big (huge) question mark, but Luis Robles is a big game player. Bradley Wright-Phillips is a goal machine, and he's historically done pretty well against the Impact. I'm also a Red Bulls fan and very biased. Pick: New York Red Bulls

Haris Kruskic:

The New York Red Bulls are based out of New Jersey. False advertising. (Editor’s note: As are the New York Giants and New York Jets.) Pick: Montreal Impact

Parker Cleveland:

Nacho Piatti showed why he should be considered for the MVP award against DC United and they have played better without Drogba than with him down the stretch. NYRB can hurt you with so many weapons though between golden boot winner Bradley Wright-Phillips, Sacha Kljestan, and newcomer Alex Muyl. I think NYRB is too deep and too dangerous but this should be a close series. Pick: New York Red Bulls

Sam Franco:

The Red Bulls had the best record in the Eastern Conference this season and beat Montreal 2 out of 3 times in the regular season. On the bad side of things, they are named after a drink that tastes like chalk and I'm pretty sure is pure poison. Nobody should drink Red Bull. Ever. That being said, the whole Drogba will he or won't he thing is kind of getting old and I'm tired of hearing about it. Pick: New York Red Bulls

Jon Nelson:

Red Bulls... Is this their year...? Only two playoff series wins in four years with all the success they've had, but they get an Impact side that took DC United to the woodshed in the Knockout Round. I can't believe I was right with Piatti, so I'll say he'll still be the focus for them. I still think NYRB have too much firepower, though... Pick: New York Red Bulls

Jason Longshore:

This series will be an interesting clash of styles as New York will press high and try to up the tempo while the Impact will want to sit and hit the Red Bulls on the counter. The key is the first game. Montreal enters with lots of confidence after demolishing DC on Thursday. However, New York should be able to escape Montreal without too much damage before winning the second leg solidly to advance. Pick: New York Red Bulls 4-2 on aggregate

Rob Usry:

Montreal got lucky to play a terrible D.C. team in the first round. They won’t be as fortunate coming up against a surgical and relentless Red Bulls side. Pick: New York Red Bulls

LA Galaxy vs. Colorado Rapids, 5:00 p.m., ESPN

Aaron Bauer:

LA wins at home and Colorado squeaks out a bigger win at home. Jermaine Jones is the key, showing he is the best player for the stars and stripes. Pick: Colorado Rapids

Brendan Joseph:

LA Galaxy is old and busted, the Colorado Rapids are the new hotness. While I don't think this series is going to be nearly as fun as an intergalactic kegger, it should have a few twists and turns. Jermaine Jones might be back from injury, which would be very good for the Rapids as he is a good player. Also, the third Men in Black movie was much better than I thought it would be. Pick: Colorado Rapids

Haris Kruskic:

Guardians of the Galaxy is the best Marvel movie to date and I'll fight anyone who says otherwise. Pick: LA Galaxy

Parker Cleveland:

While LA has returning legend Landon Donovan and emerging talent Ema Boateng, Colorado has a stifling defense and may be getting midfielder engine Jermaine Jones back. I think the key matchup here will be LA vs. coach seats and Suburban-Denver's altitude. I think game 1 goes for LA 2-1 but Colorado smothers the second game in the Rockies and wins 1-0 advancing on away goals. Pick: Colorado Rapids

Sam Franco:

Going back to our last round of predictions, it's Landon Donovan all the way here. While the LegenD didn't score as I predicted. He will score over these two legs. Book it. Plus, Steven Gerrard could feature in leg one and should definitely be back for leg two. That will give the boys from LA a boost. Plus, Colorado is spending waaaaay too much money on Tim Howard. I love Timmy, but never go with a keeper as a DP. Pick: LA Galaxy

Jon Nelson:

I think this one comes down to goalkeeping and defense. And since a lot of the big offensive stars are dealing with knocks, this could be the lowest scoring group of the 4. I still have to stick with my LAG pick, though, right...??? So, "LAG" as the old guys make a final run together... Pick: LA Galaxy

Jason Longshore:

This series will likely be the lowest scoring one of the conference semifinals. While the Rapids have gotten the better of the Galaxy this season, that won't continue in the playoffs. The postseason is LA's time, and they are flying high after a 3-1 win over RSL in the Knockout Round. Giovani Dos Santos and Emmanuel Boateng will exploit wide positions to get the Galaxy past the stingy Colorado defense. LA Galaxy 2-1 on aggregate

Rob Usry:

There’s just something about Colorado that I find mundane and boring. I’m rooting for LA just for the entertainment value as a neutral. Pick: LA Galaxy

Toronto FC vs. New York City FC, 7:00 p.m., FS1

Aaron Bauer:

Frankly, I hope TFC embarrass NYCFC, but they won't. The first leg will be too much to overcome for Vieira's men who have been the surprise of the season. Pick: Toronto FC

Brendan Joseph:

Frank Lampard! Jozy Altidore! Andrea Pirlo! Michael Bradley! David Villa! Sebastian Giovinco! There are more stars in this series than a Friday night at the Viper Room. There's this expectation of a goalfest, but MLS tends to subvert expectations, so I think Toronto wins the aggregate by a goal or two. Over/under for the entire series is 3.5, and I"m hammering the under. Pick: Toronto FC

Haris Kruskic:

Go Toronto, the greatest American city in Canada. Pick: Toronto FC

Parker Cleveland:

NYCFC hosts Toronto in a matchup of a World Cup legend vs a Euro 2016 snub. In the end these teams matchup very well offensively but TFC has been so strong on defense that I give them the edge. Pick: Toronto FC

Sam Franco:

I have to admit, NYCFC surprised me this season. I was very early in calling Lampard a bust and Pirlo has actually been serviceable as well. David Villa is still abusing MLS defense. However, their harsh and unfair treatment of the Nordic Messi Mix Diskerud has made me very upset. Mix can't get minutes because there's no way he'd play over Lampard and Pirlo due to their statuses. Jozy Altidore has found a nice goal scoring rhythm with Toronto, and they Giovinco will prove too much for the old legs in the NYCFC midfield to handle. Pick: Toronto FC

Jon Nelson:

This one should be fun with all the offensive possibilities for both sides. If TFC are to win this, though, they're going to have to take advantage of their home game. Both teams will score, but which defense shows up? I say TFC makes it through in the most exciting series of the four. Pick: Toronto FC

Jason Longshore:

I'm hoping that this series provides the excitement. I'm not convinced Toronto is ready for the pressure of the postseason. They got through Philadelphia 3-1, but showed their nerves throughout. NYCFC has so many weapons who can exploit any signs of weakness. Pick: NYCFC 5-4 on aggregate

Rob Usry:

Everyone seems to be picking Toronto FC out of pure spite and/or hatred for NYCFC. I think Michael Bradley will pick up another yellow card in the first leg and miss out on the second. NYCFC squeak by thanks to the legend David Villa. Pick: NYCFC

Seattle Sounders vs. FC Dallas, 9:30 p.m., FS1

Aaron Bauer:

Dallas take its. They will draw on the road and win at home. No more turf in 2016, breathing a sigh of relief for everyone. Pick: FC Dallas

Brendan Joseph:

Mauro Diaz is out with an injury and Fabian Castillo is in Turkey, but I still like the Hoops' chances of advancing. Seattle is still missing something, but I can't quite put my finger on what it is. It's not Dempsey, but it's something. I think they're the odds on favorite to win MLS Cup next year, but not yet. Pick: FC Dallas

Haris Kruskic:

Sorry Seattle, I'm Team Playstation. Pick: FC Dallas

Parker Cleveland:

Seattle advanced despite looking turgid offensively against Sporting KC thanks to an outstanding performance by keeper Stefan Frei and missed offsides calls by the linesmen and a terrible performance from referee Ismail Elfath. I like FC Dallas in this one if Seattle can't score an onside goal against a very leaky SKC team I don't think they'll have any better luck against a formidable FCD team. Pick: FC Dallas

Sam Franco:

With all the Sounders have had to overcome this season, it's been a good run, but the story will end here. Your 2016 Supporters Shield winners FC Dallas will cruise to what should amount to a relatively easy win over these two legs. The loss of Mauro Diaz will hurt Dallas, but they'll still have enough to overcome Seattle. Pick: FC Dallas

Jon Nelson:

Seattle can't afford to wait to score and have to take advantage of one of the loudest environments in the league. Without Diaz playing for FCD, I think this goes to a hot Seattle side and focus on Lodeiro and Morris to score with a midfield that seems to hum along. And give Schmetzer the job already... C'mon, Man! Pick: Seattle Sounders

Jason Longshore:

The question is how Dallas will overcome the loss of talisman Mauro Diaz. In the past, they would change to a 4-4-2 formation with limited success. I think they will keep with their 4-2-3-1 shape this time. Dallas won't have their usual firepower, but it will be enough to breakdown Seattle's defensive stature. Pick: FC Dallas 4-1 on aggregate

Rob Usry:

FC Dallas is the hot pick in this one. While I really love the Sounders and all their club stand for (and Jordan Morris, he’s so dreamy), there’s just something about that second leg in Dallas that is very hard to overcome. A Diaz-less Dallas find a way, maybe Walker Zimmerman plays hero once again? Pick: FC Dallas