MLS Betting: Atlanta to stun New York in Supporters Shield showdown, overs rule in LA
Dave Farrar predicts Atlanta United will win the biggest game of the season against their only real challengers, while NYC FC continue the slide in Minnesota and entertainment is guaranteed at the Stub Hub
“The Red Bulls may have the last laugh in December, but for now I’m sticking with Atlanta to win the biggest game of this campaign by a million miles.”
Game of the season
New York Red Bulls v Atlanta United
Live on Sky Sports Football
Atlanta United can move to the brink of an historic Supporters Shield with a win in New Jersey this weekend as they face a New York Red Bulls team who are their only remaining challengers for MLS's regular season honour.
There's obviously post season work to be done by both teams, but the Supporters Shield is a big deal these days, and Gerardo Martino will want to make sure of it as soon as he can, so that he can prepare in earnest for what comes next.
Atlanta's recent record looks particularly good, seeing as they've won five of their last six games, with that run only punctuated by a defeat against DC United, but in truth they haven't beaten anyone of note for a while.
They were pushed all the way by a poor San Jose Earthquakes side a couple of weeks ago and that could be a reason to oppose them, but the news that hangs heavy over this fixture is the suspension of the Red Bulls' star striker Bradley Wright-Phillips after he picked up a fifth yellow card of the season.
That weakens NYRB significantly, and even though I'm impressed by the work that Chris Armas has done since he took over from Jesse Marsch in mid-season, I think that this game will be a step too far for his team, and can't believe that Atlanta are as big as [2.92] to win the game.
It's also worth pointing out too that Armas' team have their eyes on the big prize in December. The Red Bulls are the best MLS team not to have won MLS Cup, and their motivation will be focused on that, rather than on winning a third Supporters Shield in six years.
Armas has changed the way that the team plays too, and I think that their measured passivity won't serve them well against Atlanta's high intensity tactics. It would be fine if New York were a rock-solid defensive unit, but they're not, and I think that Atlanta's brilliant forward players will do enough to win them the game, leaving the way clear for a clinching of the Supporters Shield next week at home.
The Red Bulls may have the last laugh in December, but for now I'm sticking with Atlanta to win the biggest game of this campaign by a million miles.
Minnesota worth the risk
Minnesota United v NYC FC
Both of these teams already know their fate, and yet even though Minnesota United can't make the post season, I still give them a chance of a win against an NYC FC side who have faded badly towards the end of this campaign.
Minnesota just about did the trick last week, although they needed a late Bobby Shuttleworth save to get them over the line against Portland, after their 3-0 half time lead had been hauled back.
The fact remains, though, that they were good enough to take advantage of some Timbers ineptitude and take control of the game early. That hints at a confidence that has been bubbling under the surface all season, but showing itself all too infrequently.
With nothing material to play for, the Loons and Darwin Quintero are a dangerous proposition for an NYC FC side who have won just twice in nine games. They've missed Patrick Vieira badly, and a midweek game against Chicago won't have helped their preparations for this, although they did at least get back to winning ways.
It's a risk to tip Minnesota here, as they can be a bit inconsistent, but I still think they rate a decent bet at the prices, in what isn't great punting weekend in MLS.
Attack the only option
LA Galaxy v Vancouver Whitecaps
LA Galaxy host the Vancouver Whitecaps with both teams absolutely desperate for the win that would keep them in post season contention.
The 'Caps start the weekend a point behind the Galaxy with a game in hand, but in the knowledge that they have a tough run of fixtures to see the season out. The Galaxy have just one home game to come after this one, and must surely feel that they need to win both of their remaining Stub Hub matches to make the final 12.
In a game between two normal teams, that would lead you to look at a bet on goals, given the extent to which one goal could start a landslide, but the nature of these two makes that outcome even more likely.
Both teams have been full of goals, with all of Vancouver's last ten going Over 2.5 Goals (and six of those Over 3.5) and the Galaxy's last three matches producing 19 goals. These are two teams who love to go for the jugular, don't pay much attention to defensive play, and have everything to play for.
That's a heady cocktail, and while there are no certainties in this column, this is surely a bet to have on side.
Staked: 84 points
Returned: 102.93 points
P/L +18.93 points
Back Atlanta United to beat New York Red Bulls @ [2.92]
Back Minnesota United to beat NYCFC @ [2.7]
Back Over 3.5 Goals in LA Galaxy v Vancouver Whitecaps @ [2.26]