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Double Chance Pick
LAFC have underachieved all season, but Saturday night’s performance against Vancouver may have been their lowest point yet. While Los Angeles are still content with their 5th-place standing in the Western Conference, they’re a team that has the firepower that most of their rivals lack, and they should be in at least the top 3. But for whatever reason, the attack just hasn’t clicked this season like it was expected to. Diego Rossi became a can’t-miss star last season, largely in the absence of Carlos Vela. But now that Vela is back and playing alongside Rossi, the combination, while effective at times, creates confusion in other instances, and teams like the Whitecaps, who are just 1 point out of last, can take advantage as they did in their 2-2 draw over the weekend.
It will take a much stronger effort to score a win, or even a point, against Minnesota United, who are very much at the top of their game right now. Minnesota are coming off 2 strong home wins over Seattle and Portland, both very much contenders in the West. They dominated possession against the Timbers on Saturday, putting up an onslaught of 28 shots, finally scoring an equalizer in the 74th minute and a winner from Robin Lod in the 85th. But it’s not just at home where Minnesota find success. They’ve taken at least a point in 3 of their last 4 on the road, and while it seemed like LAFC would become a home-stadium powerhouse after their results in Los Angeles last season, they’ve been much more vulnerable in 2021. Double your chances and take a tie or a Minnesota win.
Both Score and No Draw Pick
The breakout performance that NYCFC fans had been waiting all season for finally came on Sunday, as the team trampled over Orlando City 5-0. The team played a close to flawless match, but arguably the best sign that indicates positive things moving forward is the fact that the 5 goals were scored by 5 different players. Valentin Castellanos finally broke his seemingly never-ending drought, while it was Jesus Medina, who’s been (somewhat unexpectedly) the team’s top goal-scorer this year, who put New York on the board first in the 40th minute.
Coming into the season, we knew that NYCFC’s offense had the potential to have days like they did this past weekend. It was a long time coming for both the franchise and the fans, but now that they know what they’re capable of offensively, don’t expect them to look back. The defending champion Columbus Crew, though, will bring more of a challenge to Yankee Stadium than the Nani-less Lions did last weekend. Columbus are still without star striker Gyasi Zardes, who’s on international duty with the US team, but they’ve been coping just fine in his absence, winning 2 out of 3, including a 2-1 victory over NYCFC 2 weekends ago. Expect both teams to score, and one of them to find a way to victory.
Money Line Pick
From Orlando City’s perspective, the team’s 5-0 defeat at NYCFC last weekend was more of an outlier than anything you should expect to see again in the future. Star forward Nani and Chris Mueller were both rested and did not make the trip to New York, while Mauricio Pereyra was suspended due to an accumulation of yellow cards. With the starters Orlando was already missing due to international duties and injuries, the team was forced to start a lineup of mostly reserves, taking on a team desperate for a victory and yet capable of stringing it all together to get one.
Coming into Thursday’s game against Atlanta United, there are 4 main differences that should put your mind at ease if you’re an Orlando fan. First, the Lions are playing at home, where they’ve won 4 times and lost just once this season. Second, they’ll be much more well-rested: those who did play on Sunday did so with just 2 days of rest between their prior match against Philadelphia and that one. Third, and most crucially, Nani and Mueller should be back in the lineup. And finally, while Atlanta are as desperate for a win as anyone, they, unlike NYCFC, can’t seem to figure out a formula, no matter how many different tactics they try. Back Orlando to get all three points and do so with confidence.
Money Line Pick
As long as Chicharito remains on the sidelines, stay away from taking the LA Galaxy under any circumstances. The Galaxy have been a disaster without their star forward, and while it’s still unclear when he’ll be back or what exactly he’s out with (it was originally specified as a calf injury), what is clear is that the team suffers greatly in his absence. The team has won just 1 of 5 with their new, makeshift lineup, most recently going down 4-0 in Dallas over the weekend. With Jonathan dos Santos and Sebastian Lletget both on international duty, the Galaxy are truly forced to field a B-team up front, one that’s not capable of sustaining an attack against any half-decent defense in the league.
The Portland Timbers are more than just half-decent. Portland finished with as many points as anyone else in the Western Conference last season, and despite a rough start to 2021 have been picking it up lately, currently sitting just 1 point out of a playoff position. The Timbers have struggled on the road this year but they were clearly the better team the last time they played the Galaxy, a 3-0 home victory for Portland in May in a match that saw them complete a crisp 92% of their passes. With the Galaxy fielding a much less formidable team than they did in that match, take Portland to repeat the result, and expect them to take all three points back home.
Win/Over 1.5 Goals Pick
The Seattle Sounders won’t be whole again until after the CONCACAF Gold Cup is over, and even then they’ll still be missing Nicolas Lodeiro and Stefan Frei, among others. But one man has kept the team afloat over the past few weeks with the majority of his teammates away for one reason or another. Raul Ruidiaz has always been considered one of the most dangerous strikers in the league, but he’s proven his worth recently more than ever. Ruidiaz has scored in 5 of the team’s last 8 matches, and while they dropped a crucial game to 2nd-place Kansas City last weekend, the Sounders remain in first place as they welcome the struggling Earthquakes to town.
San Jose have one of the worst defenses in the league. After allowing an MLS-worst 51 goals last season, they’ve conceded 25 times in 2021, a mark only the Galaxy have surpassed among Western Conference teams. The Earthquakes have now drawn 4 straight matches (as you might expect, none of them goalless) and they were beaten soundly on their last trip to Seattle, losing 4-1 in the final match of the 2020 season. Seattle have already bested San Jose once this year, too, so expect them to finish the night with all three points once again. To boost your odds and add some value, combine a Seattle win with over 1.5 goals, a mark that could be hit by halftime.
Double Chance Pick
We’ve said it every week, and we’ll continue to say it until they prove us wrong: the New England Revolution are the best team in Major League Soccer right now. The Revolution became the first team in the league to reach 10 wins after their 2-1 victory over Montreal on Sunday. They’re receiving contributions from all over the field, and their 30 goals on the year are 4 more than any other team in the Eastern Conference has scored. Forward Adam Buksa’s status is still up in the air for Saturday after he exited in the first half with a head injury, but even if Buksa is deemed unfit, the attack led by the Carles Gil-Gustavo Bou connection should still find the net a couple of times in New Jersey.
Saturday’s match was supposed to be a special one for New England’s up-and-coming center back Henry Kessler, who’s a New York City native and trained at the Red Bulls academy in his youth. Kessler won’t be playing, as he was recently called up to the US national team for the first time, but Andrew Farrell and Jonathan Bell have done a more than satisfactory job in his absence so far. The Red Bulls have suffered from a lack of goal-scoring (they have just 18 in their 14 matches) and if the season were to end today, they’d be outside the playoff picture. They could certainly make a comeback later in the season, but it won’t be against the first-place Revolution. Double your chances and take a tie or a New England win, and do it with confidence.
Money Line Pick
The news that their stadium will host a World Cup qualifier is the most exciting thing to happen to FC Cincinnati in quite some time. That shows you how their last year-and-a-half has gone as a franchise. Major League Soccer’s worst team currently find themselves only 3rd from last in the Eastern Conference thanks to a nearly 2-month goal drought from Chicago and an ongoing crisis at Inter Miami. But against anyone above them, Cincinnati’s weaknesses are exposed, and it can get ugly. They’re 9 points out of the final playoff spot, and it feels like even more than that, especially after the club’s latest loss, a 3-0 defeat in Nashville, their 5th straight match without a win.
DC United looked to be heading towards a rebuilding season after finishing 2020 ahead of only Cincinnati and losing 3 of their first 4 to begin this year. But first-year head coach Hernan Losada has done a tremendous job in instilling confidence and firepower in his club, creating a culture and philosophy that allows the team as a whole to play to more than the sum of its parts. DC have scored 4 wins since the end of May, plus 2 draws that have kept them in the playoff hunt as the bottom five in the East have effectively been dropped. With more on their mind than they had originally anticipated at the start of the season, look for the team from the nation’s capital to keep playing well, and bet on them taking all 3 points in Cincinnati.
Double Chance Pick
There are often times in a team’s season in which, after a stretch of games, it’s not a bad idea to pull the plug on even considering betting on them until they prove you otherwise. Such is the case with Inter Miami at the moment. The league’s star-studded team, owned by David Beckham and led by Phil Neville, is in a full-on crisis that’s spiraling out of control. Miami have won just once in their past 11 matches, and that was an ugly game against fellow bottom-feeders Cincinnati. They finally had their chances to break that drought over the weekend, but their lack of confidence was on full display as Philadelphia equalized late for a draw following a few moments earlier in the match in which Gonzalo Higuain displayed startlingly little effort.
What’s causing the crisis at Miami? It’s hard to pinpoint, but what we do know is that they’re a team built to market individual players and sell tickets, rather than one constructed to gel as 11 men playing as a team on the pitch. Most teams with a lower budget than that of Miami rely on team cohesion as their number-one way of getting results, and while CF Montreal have been shaky in their last 2 matches, they’ve certainly played better overall this year. Montreal currently sit in 7th place, 13 points ahead of Miami, and they’ve already won the 2 previous meetings between the sides this year. Continue to stay away from Miami, at all costs, and take the double chance of a draw or a Montreal win.
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