In his latest look at the best bets from the weekend action in the MLS, Dave Farrar predicts three big away victories for LA Galaxy, Toronto FC and Columbus Crew....
“Back the confident form team LA Galaxy to build on their away victory last week and make it two road wins in a row.”
Minnesota v LA Galaxy
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The LA Galaxy are on a real roll and they will travel north to play Minnesota full of confidence.
It's taken a while for Curt Onalfo to truly make his mark on the Galaxy, but there's a sense now that things are turning in his favour, and his fronting up to Jelle Van Damme last week may end up looking like one of the most inspired pieces of management this season.
Minnesota have improved after their terrible start, there's no question about that, but I wonder if the lack of depth in their squad is starting to catch up with them. Kevin Molino and Christian Ramirez are both having really good seasons, but there isn't much of quality in behind Minnesota's starters, and as the games start to come thick and fast, that will affect them.
Can Minnesota contain the brilliant Romain Alessandrini? The Frenchman is one of four players this MLS season to reach double figure goals and assists, and was irresistible last week.
Minnesota pride themselves on their solid home defensive record, but with the Galaxy having scored at least two in seven of their last 10 away games, I think that they're certain to come here and have success in front of goal, and are good defensively to hold what they have.
Back the confident form team to build on their away victory last week and make it two road wins in a row.
Back LA Galaxy to beat Minnesota United @ [2.5]
NY Red Bulls v Toronto
TFC have now won six games in a row and are building a healthy lead at the top of the Eastern Conference. They're not un-catchable, but they're certainly in pole position to win the Supporters Shield. Form in MLS is so fickle, though, that it'll be a while before we get a real sense of who this season's main contenders are.
The New York Red Bulls should be one of those names to follow, but have hit something of a roadblock in this campaign. Their home defeat by LA Galaxy in their last game provides genuine cause for concern, a third consecutive defeat and a sixth in total this season, and a game in which they managed only three shots.
The nature of the opposition that they've lost to has to be a worry as well: no shame in losing at Sporting KC, but falling apart against Philadelphia and LA is something else entirely, and Jesse Marsch is feeling the pressure. Just about the last team that he would want to face next is Toronto, who have won their last two away games, and will be hungry for a third.
If you look beyond the goalscoring exploits of Bradley Wright-Phillips, the Red Bulls are hugely reliant on Sacha Klejstan, and he isn't quite matching his form of last season. The Red Bulls have a habit of going to sleep defensively, but are also looking sluggish going forward, and I wonder in retrospect whether they should have added something into the attacking mix. Something more, anyway, than Fredrik Gulbrandsen.
I think, quite simply, that TFC are currently a far better team than the Red Bulls: well drilled, cohesive and, even without the injured Sebastian Giovinco and Nick Hagglund, are likely to grab a third consecutive away win and increase the pain for Jesse Marsch. The Italian's absence means that we can back TFC at [4.0], and that's much too big.
Back TFC to beat NYRB @ [4.0]
New England v Columbus Crew
After doing the business for us last week against a really poor Real Salt Lake team, I'm going to oppose the New England Revolution this time, as they face a Columbus Crew side who beat them comfortably a couple of weeks ago.
The Crew did wonderfully well to grab a win at Montreal last weekend, a Justin Meram hat trick (including a stoppage time winner) making up for the absence of Ola Kamara and just about justifying Gregg Berhalter's decision to play a slightly under-strength side. After a rest, it'll be much nearer full strength this weekend, and a Crew team with tails up spells trouble for the Revs.
New England were always going to beat RSL last weekend, but have struggled when they've faced the better teams in MLS, and here they face a team which has beaten them in four of the last five meetings, and stopped them from scoring the last three times that the two have met.
Much will be made of Kei Kamara trying to put one over on his old team, but that seems unlikely, and the Crew have to be backed at what looks a massive price.
Back Columbus Crew to beat New England Revolution @ [4.2]
Staked: 33 points
Returned: 44.73 points
P/L: + 11.73 points