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Best Bets: Gyasi Zardes scoring goals, an upset in LA, and more MLS picks

We're back with another week of Best Bets! This week, we’re looking at Gyasi Zardes, FC Cincinnati vs. Atlanta United, a potential upset in Los Angeles, and much more.

4 min read
© Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Backheeled Bucks

  • Total Backheeled Bucks Wagered To Date: $360.00
  • Total Backheeled Bucks Won To Date: $425.01
  • Backheeled Bucks Net Profit: $65.01 (18% rate of return)

Fie on you, Colorado Rapids. If not for your four-goal outburst against Minnesota United last weekend, we would’ve been flying high heading into this week’s All-Star festivities. But Gyasi Zardes just couldn’t help himself, could he? He just had to go out and score his second-ever MLS hat trick, didn’t he? Okay, I’m getting a little too worked up over here.

Take a deep breath, Joe.

We’re still in a good spot on the season with our Backheeled Bucks and we’ve got another chance to put a little cash in our pockets this weekend. Here are my bets for this weekend’s MLS action.


Bet: Cincinnati to win

Amount: $10

Odds: +120

I’m counting on Cincy tapping into some of their momentum in this game.

After beating the Philadelphia Union 3-1 at home last weekend, FC Cincinnati should have some real confidence heading into this home game against Atlanta United. Philly is kind of like Cincinnati’s big brother club in MLS. They play roughly similar styles. Pat Noonan and Chris Albright both came from Philly. Some of their players have Philly ties, too. So when Cincinnati beat Philadelphia, I’m guessing they felt pretty darn good about themselves.

After all, who doesn’t like to beat their older siblings at stuff?

I like FC Cincinnati, right now especially. They’ve only lost once in their last 10 games, Brandon Vazquez is hot, Lucho Acosta is back, and now all of a sudden Matt Miazga is here? That’s a dangerous group.

As for Atlanta United, well, they’re 1-1-1 in their last three games and are still looking for the right balance in the attack. Nobody wants to play Gonzalo Pineda’s team because of their sheer amount of attacking talent, but with a lack of stability in midfield and in the back, Atlanta are beatable.

I’ll take positive odds for FC Cincinnati with a very winnable home game any day of the week (that was a weird sentence to write after the last three years, but here we are).


Bet: Colorado to win, over 1.5 total goals scored

Amount: $10

Odds: +145

I know I just fied the Colorado Rapids in the intro, but I’m banking on them getting the job done at home against Columbus this weekend.

You wanna hear something that’ll blow your mind? Okay, get ready. The Rapids have the sixth best expected goal differential per 90 minute in the entire league, according to FBref. That’s right. Based on xGD per 90, the Rapids are an elite MLS team this season. Robin Fraser’s team has lost just once in their last six games, Zardes is scoring goals, and Diego Rubio should’ve been an MLS All-Star but will always be one in our hearts.

The Colorado Rapids are scoring goals, too. They’ve scored nine in their last two games and at least two goals in five of their last seven. Things are clicking in the attack right now for Colorado – and they’ll need to click against the Columbus Crew to earn all three points on Saturday.

The Crew are solid. They’re not a juggernaught in the Eastern Conference, but with Cucho Hernandez working in the attack and finding the back of the net, it’s foolish to count Columbus out. Still, Cucho or no Cucho, I’m not convinced that this team has enough attacking firepower on the wings to consistently punish opposing backlines.

Again, like I said up above with FC Cincinnati, this is a winnable home game for the Rapids. And when you’re betting on games in MLS, finding positive odds for home teams with winning games on their schedule is a great way to go. A Colorado win and at least two goals in this game gets us a nice return on our Backheeled Bucks.


Bet: Montreal to win, over 1.5 total goals scored

Amount: $10

Odds: +250

I really, really like this pick. Maybe it’s because I spent a while talking with Kamal Miller after the MLS All-Star game on Wednesday, but I’m bullish on CF Montreal.

Djordje Mihailovic, who Miller called “MVP caliber” is back after his injury and Montreal are hot right now. Since July 1, CF Montreal are fourth in the league in xGD per game, according to American Soccer Analysis. The only three teams above them? New York City FC, the Philadelphia Union, and the Colorado Rapids. The Houston Dynamo are all the way down in 24th in xGD per game since the beginning of July. That’s a massive disparity.

I know playing on the road in Houston in the middle of August is a truly terrible thing, but Montreal have the form advantage and the quality advantage in this game. I don’t think Wilfried Nancy and Co. should be favored, but I’ll admit that I was surprised to see such high odds for them against a Dynamo team that hasn’t won a home game since June 25.

I like Montreal in this game, with at least two total goals.


Bet: Vancouver to win

Amount: $5

Odds: +425

Before we get out of here, why not take a little flier on another Canadian team this weekend? +425 is a promising number for any team playing the LA Galaxy right now, honestly. We could see Riqui Puig this weekend for LA, which would be a ton of fun, but the Whitecaps also strengthened their squad in the summer transfer window.

I’m not comfortable enough to put a full $10 Backheeled Bucks on Vancouver, but +425 is a big enough number to tempt me into putting $5 on the visitors.