The second legs of the MLS conference semi-finals take place Wednesday and Thursday, so today we’ll offer a short preview of them. Last weekend’s action led to a clearer separation at the top of The Power Rank, both in terms the top four and the top team. By virtue of their 1-0 win in New York (#6) and the Sounder’s (#2) 0-3 drubbing at at the hands of Real Salt Lake (#4), the Galaxy (#1) have established themselves as the class of MLS. They will be heavily favored to advance in LA this weekend over the Red Bulls as 0.81 goal favorites, in addition to having an away goal in hand.
Perhaps the most intriguing first leg match was Seattle vs. RSL in Salt Lake City. Real was finally able to pair a healthy and fit Javier Morales with Kyle Beckerman in the midfield, and they played like the Real Salt Lake of last season. They dominated the Sounders, and even though their first goal looked to have been offside, will take a deserved 3-0 lead back to Seattle. However, this difference is not insurmountable as RSL’s two starting center backs are out, opening the door for the Sounders and their top ranked offense to make up the goals.
Out east, Sporting KC (#3) grabbed a 2-0 win at Colorado (#9). The Rapids will also be facing numerous injury problems for the return leg in Missouri, while their 0.79 Power Rank deficit makes it likely that Colorado’s title defense will soon come to an end. A slightly (just) more interesting game will take place in Houston as they host the Philadelphia Union. After winning 2-1 in Philly, the Dynamo not only have a goal advantage but two away goals in the bag. The Union have the firepower to potentially come back, but the Power Rank thinks this is unlikely as they’ll be 0.52 goal dogs. Contemplating all the match-ups, the odds are that three of the top four ranked teams will be involved in the conference finals. Check back later in the week when we break down the matches which will determine who plays in the MLS cup final.