PWP-Pick List – Canadian Championship Game plus two in MLS

Two mid-week games along with a Championship Cup Tie between Toronto and Montreal; what’s in store for those games after a previous weekend of surprises in MLS?

To begin; the Canadian Cup Championship Game – most should know what MLSsoccer.com offers about this game; if not here’s a link to their preview.

Here’s my thoughts…

Montreal are playing at home and while I’d expect a very tight game it is interesting to see the contrast between these two teams in terms of possession; neither likes possession that much; at home Montreal averages just 42% possession while Toronto, on the road, averages just 37% possession.

A great question might be which team, besides Montreal or Toronto possesses the ball the remaining 21% of the game; the referees?

Not likely, but it really is a study in similarities for these two teams; both average less than 75% passing accuracy with Montreal having an edge at 73% compared to Toronto (on the road) averaging ~66%.

In considering overall penetration based upon overall passes completed; Montreal sit on about 18% while Toronto is slightly higher at 20%.  Again, just not a lot in this between these two teams.

Things do change as each team gets closer to scoring goals; Toronto puts fewer shots on goal from shots taken (patience) and that patience pays off when looking at goals scored.  Toronto shots on goal result in goals ~42% of the time while Montreal is far less successful at ~20% of the time.

Bottom line here comes down to pedigree and the ability to consistently finish given that both attacking, erh… lack of attacking styles are the same; Toronto wins…

As for the two MLS games; here’s my thoughts there as well:

Columbus at home to a stunned Real Salt Lake who will be searching for answers with a reduced squad that really got filleted in Seattle… wow; 4-nil – might we see RSL drop two in a row?

Columbus are coming off a very good performance where the PK made a difference; Berhalter is not likely pleased and I’d expect Columbus to really stamp their home presence on this game.

Past practices indicate they will possess the ball more, with a high level of accuracy that also includes a penchant to score goals 39% of the time that they put them on target.

Real Salt Lake, with their regular squad, are pretty strong in possession as well when on the road.  But if the game against Seattle is any indication, RSL might do well in possession, but not in purposeful possession.

All told RSL generated just 8% of their Final Third penetration into shots taken, with only ~17% of those shots taken making it to Frei and none, zilch, zero of them getting past Frei…

If, a big IF, Plata is healthy then perhaps they are in with a shout… most likely not though and maybe another reason why is their next game coming up in Rio Tinto.

I know, teams don’t usually look past the next game in front of them – but Real is hurting with key players off in support of the World Cup.

I hate to offer this, but if a draw were needed, it would be in this game against Columbus recognizing that the chance for 3 points, at home, against Portland is much better.

Bottom line here is I think Columbus wins because they are playing at home to RSL.

Sorry… I’d like to offer more on this one but I think Cassar will play for a “draw is as good as a win” type game; especially with that quick turn on short rest against Portland.

Moving on to Colorado at home to Chicago…

Colorado are one of the best teams playing at home in MLS this year (4th best right now)…. while Chicago are actually pretty dangerous on the road…

Home versus Away - Who is better and worse in MLS after Week 13
Home versus Away – Who is better and worse in MLS after Week 13

If anyone might have a chance to steal three points from Colorado at home this year it could be Chicago… lest it is forgotten, Chivas came away with a nil-nil draw earlier this year and Chicago will be playing a similar style to the Goats – and even in the preseason – when things don’t count Chicago did beat the Rapids 2-1…

Here’s how this could happen, Chicago like to bunker-in, if you will, on the road (average possession is 44%) – Colorado like possession at home (average ~51%).

And while Colorado have an edge in passing accuracy outside the Final Third (76% to 70%) that edge melts away to just one percentage point difference when both teams penetrate the Final Third; in other words Chicago isn’t as good holding the ball outside the final third but they are just as good as Colorado when getting inside that area.

In addition, and this is where it really matters; Chicago actually average more goals scored per shot on goal (39%) on the road than Colorado (28%) at home…

I guess, in all this what I’m offering is that this is a good game where an upset might happen…  for me I’m calling Chicago to win… I don’t do draws :).

Best, Chris

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