Dave Farrar predicts entertainment in Toronto and a Columbus Crew upset, but it'll be dull in Dallas...
“Chicago are priced at around [5.8] in the Match Odds market, which looks very generous, but Toronto are strong at home, and while they've drawn too many games there, they're rarely beaten.”
Toronto FC v Chicago Fire
Toronto FC were the one team that let this column down last week: they grabbed the lead at Columbus Crew, but couldn't hold on, and once again it was their defensive fragility that cost them, just as it had against Atlanta United the previous week, and earlier in the season against Philadelphia.
The absence of Drew Moor from Toronto's backline won't help them defensively, and the bare stats make interesting reading too: they've conceded multiple goals in three of their last four regular season MLS home games.
Chicago Fire will come to Canada full of confidence, with their big signings Bastian Schweinsteiger and Nemanja Nikolic really paying off, and their coach Velkjo Paunovic able to show the ability that saw him win the World Under-20 Championship with Serbia a couple of years ago.
Chicago have finished bottom of the League in each of the last two seasons, and those who see them as an unlikely MLS Cup winner may be a little premature, but I can certainly see the logic.
Chicago are priced at around [5.8] in the Match Odds market, which looks very generous, but Toronto are strong at home, and while they've drawn too many games there, they're rarely beaten, and so I'm more interested in the goals markets.
As I mentioned last week, Toronto's much vaunted strike-force of Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore is looking ready to explode, and Victor Vazquez has been an excellent addition too: the likley scenario here is that TFC will score more than once, but will look vulnerable again, and it's hard to see Chicago failing to score, after they looked devastating in getting three against New England Revolution last time.
Over 3.5 Goals is a bet which is likely to be successful in a hatful of Toronto home games this season, and I think that it's the best call here.
Back Over 3.5 Goals in Toronto FC v Chicago Fire @ [2.8]
New York Red Bulls v Columbus Crew
The slow start seems to becoming a habit for the New York Red Bulls, and if they are going to awake from their early season slumber, then this weekend would be the time to do it, against the team which sits top of the Eastern Conference, Columbus Crew.
You can argue that Columbus are only where they are because of a home-heavy start to the season, and that's a fair point (four of their first six games have been at home), but they've still played well, and won at DC United, a team that the Red Bulls struggled to get past at home last week.
The Red Bulls are being priced up here as if they're in full flow and sweeping all before them, and that's patently not the case. [1.7] for a Red Bull win looks mighty short, and I have no problem at all with laying them against the Crew.
I know that New York are unbeaten in 17 regular season home games, and that they have a brilliant creator in Sacha Klejstan, but they can be average, particularly at home, and Columbus are a much better side than others who've made them struggle this season at Red Bull Arena, like Colorado and Real Salt Lake.
The Red Bulls will be there or thereabouts again at the business end as they continue their quest for a first MLS Cup, but opposing them with the strongest team that they've played so far this season makes perfect sense.
Lay New York Red Bulls v Columbus Crew @ [1.7]
FC Dallas v Sporting Kansas City
Finally, a brief mention of the clash of the two undefeated teams in Texas. FC Dallas and Sporting KC have both kept their unblemished records thanks to having the two best defences in the League, and I can see Peter Vermes heading to the reigning Supporters Shield holders and playing for a 0-0 draw.
SKC have drawn three of their opening six games 0-0, and their three away games have produced just one goal so far. They drew 0-0 at home against FC Dallas, and with Oscar Pareja's team similarly defensive minded (their last two games have both gone under 2.5 goals), the "unders" really shouldn't be as big as [1.85] here.
If this was a game in pretty much any other League being played between teams THIS defensive, then the Under 2.5 Goals would be trading a fair bit shorter. It's the fact that MLS is a high scoring League which drives the price up, and I'm happy to play at what seems to be a logically inflated price.
Back Under 2.5 Goals in FC Dallas v Sporting KC @ [1.85]
Staked: 21 points
Returned: 33.46 points
P/L: +12.46 points
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