After a couple of weeks that weren’t all that far away from deserving a Josef Martinez-esque rant,we’re back in the winning column, baby. We nailed it last week, thanks to the Philadelphia Union’s comeback win over the New England Revolution and Los Angeles FC’s win on the road in Nashville.
I like winning. It’s fun. Let’s keep it up, shall we? Here are my three picks for this weekend’s MLS action.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS VS. CHICAGO FIRE
Bet: Vancouver to win, under 4.5 total goals
I don’t think I’ve ever bet on the Vancouver Whitecaps. When I say that, I’m not just talking about this season in our Best Bets column here at Backheeled. No, I’m talking about ever ever.
I’ll admit, though, I’m intrigued by their matchup with the Chicago Fire on Saturday, partly because it’s one of the better home lines this weekend. This week in particular, I don’t love a lot of the home odds from around the league. As a couple of examples, I’m not touching Austin FC at home against the New York Red Bulls (too close to call) or New York City FC at home against Inter Miami (not enough meat on the bones).
So I’m looking to Vancouver. They’re not a great team, but Andres Cubas is everywhere in midfield and they made a very smart move recently by trading for Julian Gressel.
They’ve also been strong at home this year, only losing twice in 10 games at BC Place. The Whitecaps do have the Canadian Championship Final coming up on Tuesday, so there’s a chance that Vanni Sartini manages some minutes against the Chicago Fire. Even still, I’m liking a +160 line at home with an achievable goals qualifier against the 12th place team in the Eastern Conference.
ATLANTA UNITED AT LOS ANGELES GALAXY
Bet: Atlanta double chance, under 4.5 total goals
We’re keeping that under 4.5 total goals qualifier on this Atlanta United bet to squeeze a little more value out of their road trip to Carson.
Between their injury issues and their roster building issues, I don’t see Gonzalo Pineda’s Atlanta United team as a serious contender this season. But that doesn’t mean they can’t help us out here in their game against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday night. In fact, part of the reason why this double chance line is so favorable for Atlanta is that they’ve been struggling.
That said, maybe things are starting to turn around a little for Atlanta United. They beat Real Salt Lake at home on July 13 and then outplayed Orlando City on July 17, but ended up drawing that game 1-1 at home.
Atlanta played somewhere in the pretty good to actually good range in those two matches and that momentum could carry the Five Stripes to at least a point on the road. The Galaxy, for their part, are a mess right now. They’ve lost three straight games (to the Colorado Rapids, the San Jose Earthquakes, and LAFC) and the players are starting to get mad at each other.
All we need is at least a point on the road for Atlanta United and less than five total goals and we’re in a great spot with this pick.
PHILADELPHIA UNION AT ORLANDO CITY
Bet: Philadelphia to win, under 11.5 total corner kicks
Okay, we’ll get to the corner kick thing in just a second. First, let’s talk about why the Union are a good bet to take down Orlando City in Orlando.
They’re a much better team.
Oh, wow, that was easy. Guess we’re done here. Seriously, though, Jim Curtin’s team is one of the best in MLS right now. Per American Soccer Analysis, the Philadelphia Union have the third-best expected goals difference per game in the league since June 1 (although a big chunk of that is due to their 7-0 shellacking of D.C. United). They’re on top of the Eastern Conference and have only lost two games all season long. The underlying numbers love them – and they’re fun to watch right now with Jack McGylnn dotting up opposing defenses from deep in midfield.
According to ASA, Orlando City have the seventh-worst xGD per game in the league since June 1. They also just burned between 45 and 90 minutes on a good chunk of their starters in a midweek friendly against the Fighting Matt Turners, uh, I mean, Arsenal.
Oscar Pareja’s team is in fifth in the East, but it’s not hard to see the difference in quality between Orlando and Philly at the moment.
I said that we’d get back to the corner kick qualifier that I put on this bet and here we are. I wanted to get just a little more value out of this road bet. Without the corner kick add-on, you can still get the Union at +175 on the road, which isn’t bad, but it’s not quite where I wanted it to be. So I’m banking on this game being relatively light on corner kicks. The good news for us, though, is that neither Philadelphia nor Orlando have been corner-crazed in 2022: per Second Spectrum, the Union average 5 corner kicks per game (10th in MLS) and Orlando City average 4.3 (23rd in MLS).
If both of those teams keep up their corner kick habits – and Philly snag a win – we’re landing a +260 bet.