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Best Bets: Atlanta United’s attack is gelling, backing NYCFC, and more

Welcome to Best Bets, the place where I put my (fake) money where my mouth is. Every week, I’ll be highlighting my favorite handful of bets across MLS - and occasionally across other American soccer leagues and topics, too.

4 min read

Things started off with a bang last week!

I (or “we”, if you were bold enough to follow a stranger’s soccer betting advice) nailed two of a possible three picks, thanks to CF Montreal beating Orlando City and FC Dallas beating the Seattle Sounders in a game with fewer than 3.5 total goals. Shoutout to Orlando’s poor spacing in and out of possession and Seattle’s post-CCL hangover. You all are the real MVPs.

Welcome back to Best Bets, the place where I put my (fake) money where my mouth is. Every week, I’ll be highlighting my favorite handful of bets across MLS – and occasionally across other American soccer leagues and topics, too. For the sake of simplicity and not because Backheeled has any sort of affiliation with them, I’ll be using lines from BetMGM.

Without any further ado, let’s see if we can recreate our winning ways from last week, shall we?


Bet: NYCFC to win, over 1.5 total goals scored

Odds: -110

New York City FC is a really, really, really good team. Ronny Deila’s squad can be a little leaky defensively, but they’re the best attacking team in MLS. They’re averaging the 2nd most goals in MLS per 90 minutes and the most expected goals per 90 minutes, according to FBref. With all of their attacking quality – and a really solid midfield base featuring Keaton Parks – New York City are a big ‘ole buzzsaw when they have the ball.

Now, the Columbus Crew aren’t a super easy team to saw through. The Crew are one of the better defensive teams in MLS – and now their attack is starting to remember how much fun it is to score goals. After going on a goals fast for most of the month of April, the Crew are finding the back of the net again. They have five goals in their last two games. Still, they’re not on NYCFC’s level.

I like New York City in this game, especially at home. Because they’re the better team, placing a straightforward bet on an NYCFC win gets you pretty weak odds. But when you add a goals qualifier to the equation, things start to get a little more interesting. If NYCFC win on Saturday and the two teams combine for at least two goals, you can snag this pick at -110 odds. That means a $110 bet earns you $100, along with your initial $110. It’s pretty close to even money, which is good enough for me.

May Taty and Talles run rampant, forever and ever. Amen.


Bet: Montreal to win

Odds: +210

Montreal did a pretty good job for us last weekend, so why not hop back on the Wilfried Nancy train again? Winning on the road in MLS is difficult, but it’s a lot easier to win on the road when you have a major talent advantage over the opposition. With Djordje Mihailovic, Romell Quioto, Victory Wanyama, and company, Montreal certainly have a clear talent advantage over the new kids on MLS’s block.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I very much enjoy watching this Montreal team. They haven’t lost a game since March 12th and have been playing some lovely soccer pretty much all season long That 4-1 win over Orlando City last week was one of the most dominant performances of the MLS season so far. They ran right over Orland over and over again – and they may do the same against Charlotte on Saturday.

Charlotte, for their part, have looked better over the last month or so. They’ve stopped bleeding chances and they are winning their home games. Still, they don’t create a lot of chances and they don’t score a lot of goals. You know who does do that stuff? Montreal.

It won’t be an easy game for Montreal at Bank of America Stadium, but I don’t they should be quite this much of an underdog this weekend. When you find one of those discrepancies, it’s usually time to pounce. And I’m pouncing on +210 odds for a Montreal win weekend.


Bet: Atlanta to win, under 4.5 total goals scored

Odds: +135

I understand that the timing on this pick feels slightly weird given that Atlanta United just lost their best center back last week to a major Achilles injury. Atlanta will certainly feel Miles Robinson’s absence and I think they’ll have a bit of a harder time stopping opposing counter attacks and controlling possession without him.

That said, Atlanta United are stacked in the attack – and it looks like their stacked attack is starting to figure things out. Sunday’s match against New England could be the fourth game that big-money signings Thiago Almada and Luiz Araújo start together. In that duo’s first game starting under Gonzalo Pineda, a 2-1 loss to Montreal on April 30th, the attack looked stagnant and lacked discipline in the final third, taking far too many long shots.

Things were much better against the Chicago Fire last week and despite a 3-2 loss to Nashville SC in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday, I expect Atlanta’s attack (and it’s individual attackers) to look better as they get more reps.

Atlanta and New England both have pretty meh underlying numbers so far in 2022, but I’m banking on Atlanta United’s talent advantage carrying them through on Sunday. Now, it should be noted that both of these teams played most of their first-choice players in midweek U.S. Open Cup games so there could be some lineup weirdness this weekend. Even if we see some rotated lineups, I think Atlanta United has the advantage.

BetMGM has Atlanta at even money  (+100) to win this game, but things get a little more enticing when you add in the total number of goals. They’re giving +135 odds on a Five Stripes home win in a game with under 4.5 goals. Count me in.