Runaway Eastern Conference winners New England Revolution host New York City FC in the final MLS playoff quarterfinal on Tuesday (7.30pm ET; Live on TV: Fox). Can the hosts continue to be the dominant force in Major League Soccer and move one step closer to glory? This preview can answer that question and offer up some betting predictions and picks.
For the New England Revolution, the route to the playoffs was nice and easy. Thanks to flying clear in the Eastern Conference, finishing a huge 19 points ahead of their nearest pursuers, Bruce Arena’s men were afforded a rest until now, earning the right to enter the playoffs at the latest possible point. Just three games stand between them and MLS Cup glory and given just how dominant they were in the east during the regular season, it would be little surprise if Tuesday’s hosts went all the way.
For the visitors, the road was a little more treacherous, so much so that they had to sweat until late in the campaign to be assured of a place in the postseason, though guarantee their position they did, thanks to an excellent end-of-season unbeaten run consisting of two ties and three wins.
Since securing their playoff position, the path to the quarter-finals has been a relatively straightforward one. A home match against Atlanta United wasn’t likely to provide Ronny Deila’s men with the greatest test and they got the job done with little fuss, delivering a rather routine 2-0 win, courtesy of goals from defender Alexander Callens and the in-form Valentin Castellanos.
Revs & NYCFC Know all about each other
There should be few surprises for either set of players when they step on the field at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday evening, as this will be the fourth renewal of this fixture since the start of the 2021 campaign. When the pair first locked horns at this venue back in June, they shared a back-and-forth encounter that went way one and then the other, before the Revs finally came out on top by three goals to two thanks to an 88th minute strike from Thomas McNamara.
NYCFC took revenge a couple of months later, winning by two goals to nil in front of a home crowd. On that occasion, Deila’s men were worthy winners; they created more offensively, looked tighter at the back and were generally on top when it mattered. However, Tuesday’s visitors were unable to back that victory up when they came back to Gillette Stadium in September, this time losing by two goals to one. As they posted 0.7 expected goals to New England’s 1.4, losing out in terms of shots and shots on target too, NYCFC probably deserved to come off second best. Will it be three home wins from three home games against the boys in blue for the Revs?
Home strengths, away-day weakness
The Revs come into this fixture off the back of being very strong on their own patch during the regular season. Arena’s men lost just two out of 17 fixtures at Gillette Stadium, winning 12 of the other 15. They were easily the best not just in the east but in MLS overall in terms of points collected at home, picking up 2.29 points per game, so they know how to get it done at home, that’s for sure.
In addition to thriving at home in general, the hosts were strong against the top sides, losing none of their eight home games against sides that finished in the playoff places, winning seven out of eight, though they weren’t infallible defensively in such games, keeping only two clean sheets.
While the hosts were very good at home, NYCFC underwhelmed on the road. The visitors won only four of their 17 traveling games, while they conceded more than they scored, shipping 23, notching only 19 in reply. Moreover, they found it very tough to go up against the teams that made the playoffs, winning only one out of eight away against such opposition. They lost four of the other seven. One of those defeats came at Gillette Stadium.
Arena’s men hard to oppose
The visitors are no mugs and if this was at Yankee Stadium, they’d be easy to fancy. On the road, they have not been great. Against the best home team in Major League Soccer right now, it’s difficult to go against a home win.
As we can see in this preview above, there’s quite a disparity between what Arena’s men have done at home and what Deila’s side have produced on their travels. Not only did the Revs thrive against those that made the playoffs, but they finished the regular season with an average expected goal difference (at home) of +0.74, which looks very good next to NYCFC’s average expected goal difference (away from home) of +0.10.
Consider this in conjunction with how poorly the visitors did, at least in terms of getting results, against the best teams on the road and it really is hard to go against a home win, especially at odds that, all things considered, could easily be shorter.
As a secondary option, or if you’re looking for something with a little more juice in the price, a play on ‘New England Revolution to Win & Both Teams to Score’ catches the eye.
For all the hosts made light work of winning games against opponents of NYCFC’s ilk, they rarely kept a clean sheet, conceding in six of their seven wins against side that reached the postseason, while the visitors scored in defeat away against the likes of Nashville and when they visited the home of New England earlier in the campaign. So this preview will settle on just the one pick for the conclusion of our betting predictions, and we’ll keep it simple: