Best Bets: Hoping for Hany, Keaton Parks is back, and more MLS bets

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This is it, folks. The very last weekend of the MLS regular season. We’ve come a long way this year and have done pretty well with our bets! Our wallet is filled with a noticeably larger amount of Backheeled Bucks than it was to start the year, and that’s a great thing.

This isn’t the end of our betting this season. We’re going to be pushing this column into the playoffs, so keep your eyes peeled for more picks as the year progresses.

For now, though, here are my three picks for Decision Day.

NYCFC at Atlanta United

Bet: NYCFC to win, over 1.5 total goals

Amount: $10

Odds: +310

To my eye, the bookmakers have gotten much smarter as we’ve moved through the MLS season. It’s taken me longer to pick out the right bets over the last month or so than it did at the start of the year. 

And if the bookmakers are doing their job, that’s how it should be.

There’s one thing, though, that I think Vegas may have failed to account for this weekend: Keaton Parks. He’s back! He played 30 minutes in New York City FC’s 2-1 win over Orlando City last weekend and looked good. Parks might not be ready to go a full 90 minutes this weekend against Atlanta United, but he’s on the right recovery track after dealing with another surgery to remove another blood clot from his leg.

With Parks back, NYCFC’s chances of getting a result on any given day increase quite a bit. His comfort on the ball, ability in tight spaces, and progressive play make him a key midfielder for Nick Cushing. Even just getting 30 or 45 minutes out of him against Atlanta United makes me feel that much more optimistic about New York City getting a win on the road.

Either way, the +310 odds here for a NYCFC win with at least two total goals in this game is great value. Atlanta United and New York City are two of the top six teams in MLS this year in expected goals, according to FBref, so there should be plenty of chances in Sunday’s game.

Nashville SC at LAFC

Bet: Nashville, double chance

Amount: $10

Odds: +125

I know LAFC just won the Supporters’ Shield last weekend. I know that. But I’m looking for a low after a high in this game.

I’m counting on a fiery Gary Smith pregame talk and a hungry Hany Mukhtar performance to help Nashville get at least a point on the road in Los Angeles. Remember, with a double chance bet, all we need is for Nashville SC to not lose. And that seems doable, doesn’t it? Plus, Nashville SC just mailed out a bunch of these records with goal calls from Mukhtar’s goals this year. The guy is leading the Golden Boot race and dropped an album? There’s no way he doesn’t win MVP.

It’s not all about motivation and records in this game, though. Nashville SC are a really good team. They haven’t played at LAFC’s level for the entire season and they don’t have the same amount of top-end talent as their Western Conference foes. But they’re tight defensively and, per American Soccer Analysis, have quietly been the seventh best attacking team in MLS this year based on xG.

If Nashville play their cards right, they’ll get a result this weekend, put Hany’s record on in the locker room after the game, and put some money in our wallets.

LA Galaxy at Houston Dynamo

Bet: LA win

Amount: $10

Odds: +120

We’re keeping things relatively tame here on this last bet. 

Houston have looked like a much better team under interim head coach Kenny Bundy than they did under Paolo Nagamura for large portions of the season. They’ve played some better soccer over the last few weeks, but are still way down in 13th in the Western Conference table.

The Galaxy have only lost one of their last 10 games and with Riqui Puig in midfield, they’ve become much better at controlling games and circulating the ball in possession. In other words, they’re starting to look a bit more like a Greg Vanney team. I mean, come on, how many MLS players can do stuff like this? I’m pretty sure you could count them on one hand.

With something on the line and a talent advantage over the Houston Dynamo, a Galaxy win on Sunday is a strong bet.

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