We’ve been slumping a wee bit over the last couple of weeks. Sporting Kansas City spat in the face of the classic “struggling American MLS team goes up to Canada and loses to a good MLS team” narrative and Damian Lowe managed to set a record for the latest own goal in MLS history to lose us our double chance bet between Orlando City and Inter Miami. Just really great stuff, all the way around.
So yeah, last weekend was a little frustrating for us. But hey, we’re back! You know what happens after a slump? A…not slump? I guess? That’s what we’re going with.
We’re officially entering not slump territory. I have declared it to be so. Here’s my trio of picks for this weekend’s games.
PHILADELPHIA UNION VS. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
Bet: Philadelphia to win
I don’t know about you, but I quite like nearly even-money lines for home teams that also happen to be on top of the Eastern Conference. I know the New England Revolution have stabilized after their early season *whatever on earth that was*, but the Union are so very clearly one of the best teams in the league right now.
Since MLS returned in full from the most recent international break in mid-June, the Union have the third best expected goal difference per game in the league. They’re only behind NYCFC and the LA Galaxy, according to American Soccer Analysis. Now, it helps when you beat D.C. United so badly that you physically force them to call Wayne Rooney. But hey, you can only play the teams on your schedule.
Looking at the Revs, they really struggled to defend against New York City FC last weekend. They do have the advantage of being a little fresher than Philly, but they’ve had some major defensive issues over the last month.
Jim Curtin’s Union team hasn’t lost a single home game all year – and I think they have an excellent chance to get all three points on Saturday.
LAFC AT NASHVILLE SC
Bet: LAFC to win
This one really works for me for a couple of reasons.
First, LAFC are very good at soccer. They’re on top of the Western Conference and the Supporters’ Shield race in terms of points per game and their squad is only getting stronger. They’re stingy defensively, they love to press, and they’re extremely dangerous in transition. Nashville and Gary Smith don’t like to give up many transition opportunities, but still, few teams in MLS are better at creating those moments by winning the midfield battle than LAFC.
The second reason that I really like this pick is that Nashville SC just played a mid-week game against the Seattle Sounders. Key players like Walker Zimmerman, Daniel Lovitz, and Dax McCarty all played the entire game, while Hany Mukhtar only came off in second half stoppage time. Nashville got plenty of miles in on Wednesday, while LAFC had the chance to rest up at home.
Add that added rest time to the talent advantage that LAFC already have and you’re looking at a nice value pick on the road.
FC CINCINNATI VS. COLUMBUS CREW
Bet: Cincinnati double chance, over 1.5 total goals
I wanted to round us out here with a little bit of a safer pick. I know, I know, betting on road teams in MLS isn’t usually the safest option. But FC Cincinnati is a good team! And I don’t need them to win in this weekend’s edition of the Hell is Real derby. I just need them to get at least one point in Columbus.
Cincy have been playing some of the best soccer in the league since games started up again in the middle of June. They’re sixth in the league in xGD per game in that stretch, according to American Soccer Analysis, and they haven’t lost since May 28th. Pat Noonan has Cincinnati getting results and Brandon Vazquez is still putting the ball in the back of the net.
Fortunately for the Columbus Crew, Cucho Hernandez is scoring goals, too.
Columbus has really benefited from Hernandez’s hot start to life in MLS. The Colombian striker has three goals in two games, coming off the bench to help the Crew steal three points from the Chicago Fire over the weekend and to help them earn a point against D.C. United on Wednesday. Hernandez is hot, which makes me think that they’re could be goals in this game (hence the over 1.5 total goals qualifier).
Still, I think Cincinnati is the better team here. The stats and the Eastern Conference standings both think that, too. I wasn’t about to pass up positive odds for a FC Cincinnati double chance. As long as there are at least two goals in this game, a win or a draw from FC Cincinnati gets us a strong return here.