Best Bets: Love for Jesus Ferreira, Atlanta United’s improved attack, and more

Backheeled
Bucks
  • Total Backheeled Bucks Wagered To Date: $90.00
  • Total Backheeled Bucks Won To Date: $134.59
  • Backheeled Bucks Net Profit: $44.59 (50% rate of return)
Feb 26, 2022; Frisco, Texas, USA; FC Dallas forward Jesus Ferreira (10) celebrates a goal during the match between FC Dallas and Toronto FC at Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Is that…the sound of three winning weekends in a row?

Why yes, yes it is. Thanks to LAFC beating the Columbus Crew at Lower.com Field on Saturday and taking more than 3.5 corners – they took eight! – we made a profit last week. On the whole this season, our numbers are good. So far, we’re working with a 50% rate of return, which I’ll take any day of the week. 

With an increased supply of Backheeled Bucks in the bank, let’s dive headfirst back into the MLS betting world with our three picks for this week.

Atlanta United vs. Columbus Crew

Bet: Atlanta to win, over 1.5 total goals scored

Amount: $10

Odds: +120

The name of the game here for this pick is value at home. 

You can find more higher lines on some of the other home teams this weekend, like with Toronto FC (more on them later), Inter Miami, Minnesota United, and a couple of others. The issue with those teams, though, is I don’t actually trust them to be able to collect points right now. Vegas probably doesn’t trust them either, which is why their odds are more favorable relative to a team like Atlanta United.  

So instead of going with a riskier play, I’m going for a slightly more orthodox pick by backing Atlanta to win at home against the Columbus Crew with at least two goals scored in the game. Now, this pick isn’t risk-free by any stretch of the imagination. Gonzalo Pineda’s team has been rocked by injuries, most recently to starting left back Andrew Gutman. They’re down at least four, if not five, starters right now.

Frankly I’m wondering what they’re doing to upset the soccer gods. 

Still, it looks like Atlanta United are starting to figure out a few things in the attack. They’ve scored at least two goals in each of their last four games in all competitions and have been stringing together some very nice sequences in the final third. 

This goal from Luiz Araujo against the New England Revolution a couple of weeks ago is a great example of that. Up against a bunkered defense, Atlanta moved quickly on and off the ball and let their stars create a goal. Since April 15th, Atlanta United are second in the league in open-play xG per 90 minutes, according to Second Spectrum.

Unlike Atlanta United, the Columbus Crew are struggling. They’ve lost their last two games (admittedly, against teams that are both better than Atlanta United). More worrying than those losses, though, is the fact that the Crew have been the third-worst team in MLS in terms of open-play xG per 90 since April 15th, per 2S.

I think Caleb Porter’s team is going to have some trouble in the attack against Atlanta on Saturday, which opens the door for a home win for the Five Stripes. I like Atlanta United to win with at least two total goals scored for +120.

FC Dallas at Orlando City

Bet: Dallas to win, Dallas to take over 2.5 corner kicks

Amount: $10

Odds: +300

I don’t know about you, but I think our corner kick qualifier worked out great last week. It helped us squeeze a little extra value out of LAFC’s win over the Crew. 

So let’s go back to the well, shall we? I’m betting on a Dallas away win against Orlando City on Saturday with Dallas taking at least three corners. Let’s walk through my reasoning on this one.

First, Orlando City’s players are going to be tired this weekend. A bunch of Oscar Pareja’s starters went 60, 70, 80, 90, and even 120 minutes against Inter Miami in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday. It’s going to be very, very difficult for an Orlando team that is already light on depth to come out with much fire against FC Dallas, even at home. Dallas, for their part, are already out of the Open Cup, so they didn’t have to worry about any sort of midweek game. Hooray for losing, I guess?

Second, FC Dallas is just flat out better than Orlando City. I know there’s only a one-point gap between the two teams in the Supporters’ Shield rankings, but if you’ve watched these two teams this year, I think it’s pretty clear that Dallas has been playing the better soccer. Up front, Jesus Ferreira is leading MLS’s golden boot race. He’s also fourth in the league in xG per 90 and fifth in non-penalty xG+xA per 90.

With Ferreira’s movement in and around the box, Dallas can unlock opposing defenses that are sitting deep in their own half…

And with Ferreira’s movement in midfield, Dallas can unlock opposing defenses that are extended higher up the field. This is the good stuff right here.

With Ferreira, an in-form Paul Arriola, and Alan Velasco (who should be back for this game after a stint in MLS’s healthy and safety protocols), FC Dallas has a good chance of overwhelming their tired opponents in Orlando. Even with the corner kick qualifier, +300 on a Dallas win looks like great value to me.

Chicago FIre at Toronto FC

Bet: Chicago double chance, under 3.5 total goals

Amount: $10

Odds: +105

I told you there would be more on Toronto FC later. Well, later is now. 

Toronto’s Bob Bradley Era has gotten off to an extremely slow start this season. We’re talking slower than Michael Bradley’s recovery speed in midfield, people. 

Part of me kind of, sort of thinks that there are some intersting things being built in possession right now in Toronto. But, oh man, those things haven’t been helping TFC string together results: they haven’t won a game since April 16th. According to FBref, they’re also averaging the worst expected goals differential per 90 minutes of any team in the league right now with -1.24. 

For context, FC Cincinnati hasn’t finished any of their three MLS seasons with an xGD anywhere close to that number.

I don’t want to pretend like the Ezra Hendrickson Era in Chicago has gotten off to a fast start, either. It hasn’t. The Fire are actually sitting on the bottom of the East right now, one point behind Toronto FC. They have the lowest goals per 90 and the fourth lowest xG per 90 of any team in MLS so far this season. Chicago fans are really hoping that Jairo Torres and Chris Mueller are going to help Xherdan Shaqiri start to change that.

What I’m really counting on in this game, though, isn’t an offensive exposition from the Chicago Fire. No, I’m counting on some defensive solidity. The Fire haven’t been a great defensive team over the last six weeks, but they proved earlier on in the season that they can be compact and make life miserable for their opponents. Chicago are eight spots above Toronto in xGD per 90 largely because of their defensive work this season.

Playing against a Toronto FC team that hasn’t needed much help making their own life miserable this year, I think the Chicago Fire can get at least a point in Toronto on Saturday. With this double chance bet, a Chicago win or a draw (as long as there are under 3.5 goals in the game) gets us plus money.