Best Bets: Going for five winning MLS weekends in a row

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  • Total Backheeled Bucks Wagered To Date: $120.00
  • Total Backheeled Bucks Won To Date: $174.59
  • Backheeled Bucks Net Profit: $54.59 (45% rate of return)
Jun 11, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte FC midfielder Benjamin Bender (15) acknowledges fans after his goal during first half action against the New York Red Bulls at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

*A loud, repeated swooshing sound echos through the halls of Backheeled Manor. Clouds of dust begin to form.*

Sorry about the noise and all of the – cough – dust. It’s been a while since we’ve had a full weekend of MLS action. It’s been so long, in fact, that I had to physically dust off my oh-so-special Best Bets cloak that I wear while writing this column on Thursday afternoons. It feels good to wear it again. After a long international break, MLS is back and our weekly Best Bets column is back with it.

Before the international break, we were riding a four-weekend winning streak. Let’s make it five, shall we? Here are our three picks for this weekend.

Charlotte FC at Columbus Crew

Bet: Charlotte double chance

Amount: $10

Odds: +110

I’m gonna be honest: I’m not a huge fan of the board this weekend. I don’t love the value for some of the home teams. And I don’t think there are a ton of quality teams that are going on the road this week, which makes me hesitant to turn towards the visitors for some extra value.

That said, there is some potential in this Charlotte FC pick. They’re traveling to Ohio to play the Columbus Crew on Saturday. Charlotte, who are currently seventh in the East, had a busy international break. First, they fired manager Miguel Angel Ramirez. Then they promoted Christian Lattanzio to interim manager. Finally, they went out and beat the New York Red Bulls 2-0 at home last weekend in one of the handful of games that was played over the break.

I don’t think Charlotte are world-beaters, but I don’t think the Crew are either. Columbus’ expected goal differential is a fair bit better than Charlotte FC’s, but the Crew’s attack has been struggling in recent games. Before the break, Columbus had gone three straight weeks without racking up more than 1 xG in a single game. Per Second Spectrum, Columbus are averaging the lowest open-play xG per 90 minutes of any team in the league since May 1. Charlotte FC are 12th in that same metric since the start of May.

Charlotte FC probably aren’t better than Columbus, but I do like their chances of snagging either a win or a draw on the road on Saturday. I’ll take that double chance bet at +110. That means that if this one hits, we’re walking away with our original $10 and another $11 on top of that.

Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Bet: RSL win

Amount: $10

Odds: -120

RSL are out here making moves! They’ve signed familiar faces Jefferson Savarino (their first DP under new ownership) and Anderson Julio as well as young former USL star Diego Luna. All three of those players have seen the field for Real Salt Lake over the last handful of games, though Luna is currently away from the team and with the U.S. U-20s.

Adding that trio to the squad is a very positive sign for RSL, who needed an influx of attacking talent. Though they’re third in the West, some of their underlying numbers aren’t great. Getting some more talented attackers on the field together will only help boost their offensive output. 

As for San Jose, well, they’ve been leaky since Alex Covello took over for Matias Almeyda in late April. Only two teams have allowed more non-penalty xG per 90 minutes than the Earthquakes since Covello’s first game on April 23. The Quakes are finding chances in the attack, but they’re giving up more than they’re creating. 

Between Real Salt Lake’s new additions and some of San Jose’s defensive issues, I like RSL at home in this game at -120.

New York City vs. Colorado Rapids

Bet: NYC to win, both teams to take over 3.5 corners

Amount: $10

Odds: +220

You already know that we had to go back to the tried and true corner kick qualifier. So far this year, we’re two-for-two on bets involving that corner kick qualifier, so why not go back to the well?

Backing up one step, quickly, New York City FC are favored in this game and I’m backing them to win this one. They have more talent than any other team in MLS and they have the best underlying numbers in the league. Yes, they’re now without manager Ronny Deila, who left the club to take a job in Belgium over the international break. As good as Deila was in MLS, though, I can’t shake the feeling that New York City’s success has more to do with their talent level than it does with any detailed tactical game planning. 

Long story short: I’m taking NYCFC in this game, even though the Colorado Rapids are a strong team. But picking New York City to win at home gets you predictably mediocre odds. They’re sitting at -200 for a home win – and we don’t mess with -200 lines around here.

You know what we do mess with? We mess with +220 lines. And we’re getting that +220 line by banking on both NYCFC and the Rapids to take at least 4 corners each in this game. Is it a risk? Yeah, of course. But both teams are averaging over 4 corner kicks per game, according to Second Spectrum. New York City average 6.4 per game, while the Colorado Rapids average 4.9. 

If you want to play things a little safer, you could drop down to over 2.5 corners for each team. That, plus a New York City FC win, gets you to +120. But I want to be bold. I want to be adventurous. And hey, I’m the one wearing the now dust-free Best Bets cloak, okay?

Let’s cross our fingers and hope for corners a-plenty on Sunday.