|Moneyline (Regular Time)|
|Insights Backheeled Insights proprietary algorithm combines a variety of factors, using machine learning to weigh variables. It is solely focused on MLS data.||53.9%||23.3%||22.8%|
What The Book Sees
The gap in win percentage and expected points (ATL at 2.05 to SJE at 0.74) between the teams would suggest that Atlanta is roughly 16 goals (10 points) better over a season than San Jose. Last year, ATL finished 18 xGD higher than SJ. The Book is implicity suggesting that the two teams will be similar in quality relative to last season.
Still, there are two components that are more important for Atlanta than other teams: 1) Atlanta's projected lineup will rate highly to start the season because preseason models will weigh more heavily on individual talent, which Atlanta has thanks to the league-high transfer fees, and 2) Atlanta's large fanbase will likely move the public money toward Atlanta, raising the price.
What Insights Sees
Insights likes San Jose's additions, including Carlos Gruezo, Trauco, Rodrigues, and Akabo. More so, adding head coach Luchi Gonzalez almost certainly improves the team over last year. If the question comes down to "did San Jose improve relative to Atlanta in the offseason?" the answer feels more likely to be yes than no. Another data point here, too: in the opening season, the probability of a draw jumps from 25% to 35%.
Advantage: San Jose
Atlanta will likely be without several potential starters, including two attackers that have a material drop to their replacements. New DP striker Giorgos Giakoumakis seems unlikely to play, as he's still arriving and integrating. As a replacement at striker, ATL will likely play Jackson Conway, who has not demosntrated the ability to play at the level with the rest of the squad.
Midfielders Ozzie Alonso and Santiago Sosa will also likely miss the game; they would probably be first choice, but it's a small gap to their replacements, Rossetto and Ibarra.
The larger question will be Derrick Etienne Jr., who would probably be first choice but did not start the team's last preseason friendly on February 18. His replacement was 19-year-old Luke Brennan, who is not rostered on the first team. Given Sosa, Alonso, and Amar Sejdic are all out, it's unclear who will play on the LW if Etienne doesn't start, which would be a material drop in quality.
Conversely, SJ should have everyone available.
Atlanta's focus levels tend to fluctuate throughout the season, and you're never sure where they will be on a given weekend. That said, it's open day at home after missing the playoffs, so we would expect Atlanta to play close to full capacity.
It's too early to make a definitive statement about the approach of the two teams, since San Jose's Luchi Gonzalez will be in his first regular season game with the group and Atlanta's Gonzalo Pineda rarely had a healthy squad to implement his ideas in 2022. That said, one data point might be that Gonzalez won his last visit to Atlanta, with FC Dallas in 2019, playing a reactive, compact style (ATL had 72% possession).
Atlanta has the slight advantage, largely because they have two $10m+ attackers, but it's very narrow. San Jose has a mobile midfield three and an aggressive back four, which will limit Almada and Araujo's space. The key question will be whether Atlanta can get their spacing right between the three attackers + the attacking fullbacks, as the outside backs constantly need to read the moment of the attackers in front of them.