Fire to melt Toronto defences
Toronto FC v Chicago Fire
Live on Sky Sports Mix
Last year's dominant MLS team, Toronto FC, have had an awful start to the 2018 campaign, and last week's 5-1 defeat at the hands of a pretty average Houston Dynamo side was especially humiliating.
TFC now have the worst record of any side in MLS this year, and there's a good reason for that in the shape of their CONCACAF Champions League campaign. They played a much-changed team in Houston, as they have done for much of their season so far, and while I expect them to recover from this trough, it won't necessarily happen this weekend.
Toronto have had another hard CCL week, culminating in their heartbreaking defeat by Chivas Guadalajara, and the campaign has been a wearing one. I don't expect them to have suddenly recovered from their continental exertions by the time that Chicago come to town.
And Chicago come into this game having produced their result of the season so far: they won at the New York Red Bulls last week, and it seems as if they're starting to find some early season rhythm. I really like their new signing Alex Katai, and there's a constant, if lazy, goal threat from Nemanja Nikolic. Bastian Schweinsteiger is erratic yet still effective, and Chicago are going to be much fresher than their opponents here.
Toronto may have won six consecutive MLS games against the Fire, but are far too short to make it seven, and are a must lay this weekend.
Orlando ride the Rapids
Colorado Rapids v Orlando City
Live on Sky Sports Mix
Orlando were my pre-season pick to go a long way in this season's MLS at a big price and, after a shaky start, they're starting to look like the real deal. They have an excellent coach in Jason Kreis, and an attacking triumvirate that looks to be the best in the League, in Justin Meram, Sacha Klejstan and Dom Dwyer.
The bonus for Kreis has been the emergence from nowhere of the rookie Chris Mueller, who has now scored in three straight MLS games, helping Orlando to win four in a row, and surge up the Eastern Conference table.
The big worry for Orlando is defensively, as they've conceded in all but one of their League games so far, but they're up against a Colorado team who were hammered by Real Salt Lake last time, and who look unconvincing under MLS newbie Anthony Hudson.
The Rapids' results actually look reasonable, but I haven't been impressed by the way that they play. They're predictable and are yet to score a goal against Orlando in three MLS meetings. History is on the visitors' side as well.
Orlando are available to back at around 3.711/4 to come away with the win, and while the Rapids' home form (they're much better there than they are away) is a slight concern, I think we're backing a strong team to beat a weaker one, and based on price, that's the route to take.
Housewarming party for LA
LAFC v Seattle Sounders
LAFC did the business for us last week at Montreal, and this weekend they can celebrate playing their first ever home game in MLS. The Banc of California Stadium should be quite something, and the introduction of such a sparkling, soccer-specific stadium to the League can only be a major step forward.
And I think that they'll have a happy start in their new surroundings. They won away in Seattle on the first weekend of the season, and so this weekend's opposition will hold no fears. Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi continue to turn on the style, and the Sounders have a few big problems to overcome.
We know that LAFC will offer a threat, and we know that they have defensive weaknesses which can be exploited by the right kind of team. The Sounders, however, are without their best attacking player in Jordan Morris, have a lacklustre Clint Dempsey to rely on, and without the excellent Cristian Roldan, I think that they'd have lost every game this season.
It's at the back, though, where Seattle's biggest issues lie. Chad Marshall may be carrying an injury, but he is looking seriously shopworn, and he and Roman Torres have been overrun at times this season. No one kept more clean sheets than them last year, and yet they haven't kept one in this campaign.
Factor in the journey for Seattle, the likely wonderful atmosphere at the new Stadium, and the general feel good vibes, and I think LAFC rate a really good bet at a shade of odds-on.