Dave Farrar predicts the reigning MLS Cup holders won't win without Sebastian Giovinco, goals galore in New England, but stingy defences take centre stage in Portland...
“Without those two, TFC are a very different proposition, and Orlando will fancy that they can cause some trouble here.”
Not the same Toronto
Toronto FC v Orlando City
TFC are trading at [1.79] to lay against Orlando, and that looks a price that's worth taking. Toronto have struggled desperately at the start of this campaign, and while the format of MLS allows them a chance to recover, they can't afford to give up too many more points. The record setting days of 2017 seem like a world away.
Personnel, as well as a CCL campaign, has been an issue for them, and they're without the hugely influential Sebastian Giovinco this weekend, with Jozy Altidore also remaining on the sidelines through injury. Without those two, TFC are a very different proposition, and with Victor Vazquez struggling with injury and form, Orlando will fancy that they can cause some trouble here.
Jason Kreis's team found Atlanta too good last week as this column suggested they might, but there was no shame at all in that defeat, and if they can defend a little better (as they did last week) then there's every chance of them stealing a win.
Remember that Orlando had won six in a row before they met the best team in MLS last weekend, and now they face a side which is a shadow of what it was. They're a tempting bet to win at around [4.9], but I'll keep the draw on my side and lay TFC.
Boston goal party
New England Revolution v Columbus Crew
These two teams meet for the second time in four weeks, and we should take a steer from their previous encounter, which was full of chances and finished 2-2 in Ohio.
Since that game, Columbus have seemingly added some defensive steel to their all too evident attacking prowess, and have conceded just one goal in the subsequent four games.
There were signs last time against Chicago though, that suggest that they may not be as solid as the stats suggest. The Fire hit the post, went close on several occasions, and I think that the Crew's defensive renaissance needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.
They'll almost certainly score against New England, with one of the League's in form strikers Gyasi Zardes to lead the line with plenty of classy support from Federico Higuain, but I like the Revs going forward, especially at home, and with their last two games featuring 11 goals, I think that Brad Friedel has decided that they can be a showstopping, rather than a containing team.
This should be high class, with both teams in with excellent chances of the post season, and I expect a scoreline similar to the one that we saw four weeks ago.
Portland Timbers v LAFC
Live on Sky Sports Mix
Portland are now on a four-match winning streak and meet the brilliant new MLS franchise LAFC in one of the games of the weekend.
LAFC have astounded many observers, especially given the lopsided nature of their start in terms of home and away games, and they could certainly reach the post season, although I still feel that their squad will eventually find them out.
Bob Bradley has worked wonders, and he'll have a plan for Portland, which I suspect will be similar to the one he employed against Seattle in LAFC's first MLS game, the 1-0 win in Seattle.
There's a large amount of quality on both teams and this will be billed as Diego Valeri against Carlos Vela, but the defences are where this will be won and lost, and I think that under 2.5 goals are a bit on the big side at [2.4].
The natural view to take is that so much attacking quality will inevitably lead to goals, but LAFC have become a little more conservative, and three of their last four games have gone under 2.5, while Portland's last two have done likewise as they start to try and grind teams down.
These look like two teams who may just cancel each other out, and I'll take the "unders" at a decent price.
Staked: 33 points
Returned: 42.04 points
P/L: + 9.04 points