MLS Odds, Picks | Seattle Sounders vs LAFC Preview
Icon Sportswire/Getty. Pictured: Heber.
Seattle Sounders vs LAFC Odds
Seattle Sounders Odds
|Over/Under||2.5 (-145 / +105)|
|Both Teams to Score (Yes/No)||(-175 / +120)|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get the latest soccer odds here.|
We’re seven months from the MLS Cup Playoffs, but on Saturday the week four slate kicks off with a potential Western Conference preview when LAFC visit the Seattle Sounders.
These are easily the two best West sides in recent years. LAFC won the domestic double in MLS Cup and the Supporters’ Shield last year, and they won the Shield in 2019 and reached the Concacaf Champions League (CCL) final in 2020.
Seattle are two-time defending MLS Cup Champions and have reached four finals since 2016. And last year they became the first MLS team to win the CCL.
Both also sit near the top of the Western Conference table right now. Seattle took their first loss last week at FC Cincinnati — a team that could be the Philadelphia Union’s top challenger in the East. LAFC are perfect through two league games while also balancing CCL commitments.
So, how should you bet this one? Let’s take a deeper dive.
Seattle Sounders Have Attacking Fire Power
A deep CCL run typically takes a toll on MLS sides. The Sounders paid theirs in the latter portion of 2022 with several key injuries. As a result, they found themselves on the outside of the playoff picture for the first time since joining MLS in 2009.
But for manager Brian Schmetzer’s squad, that meant his side improved from within to begin 2023 before any winter transfer business. The biggest boost is the return to fitness of Brazilian midfielder Joao Paulo, a 2021 MLS MVP finalist. He suffered an ACL tear in the 2022 CCL final.
As for offseason additions, the Sounders opted for quality over quantity by bringing in veteran striker Heber from New York City FC. The Brazilian is currently out with a hamstring strain, but he is already one of a crowded field of MLS players with two goals. He leads all of MLS with 3.1 xG through two appearances.
Even when healthy, he’s only being asked to share the burden. All things equal, Raul Ruidiaz probably tops on the striking depth chart. But he’s played 43 minutes while working back from his own health issues. Fredy Montero is a third veteran option in the role, and could start Saturday if Ruidiaz doesn’t.
The Sounders are one of the more goal-diverse teams in MLS over the years, with Jordan Morris, Nicolas Lodeiro and Cristian Roldan all capable of double-digit seasons. Morris is well on his way to one after scoring an MLS-leading three goals to open the campaign.
LAFC Breaking in New Squad
This is not your slightly older brother’s LAFC squad.
Carlos Vela is still an important part of manager Steve Cherundolo’s vision, but he is no longer the focal point. If that role belongs to anyone now, it’s Gabon international Denis Bouanga, who joined LAFC last summer but took a while to find his footing.
When he finally did, he became LAFC’s most important attacker. It began when he scored the Shield-clinching goal last year in a 2-1 victory at the Portland Timbers. Then, he scored twice in a conference semifinal victory over the LA Galaxy.
Fast forward to 2023, and Bouanga has five goals so far in all competitions. That includes a hat trick in a 3-0 win over LD Alajuelense in the first leg of their CCL first-round series. He also scored twice in last Sunday’s 4-0 victory over New England Revolution.
Bouanga also was rested for the first half of LAFC’s second leg against Alajuelense on Wednesday, meaning he’s likely to get the starting nod in Seattle. Vela probably won’t after going the full 90 in a 2-1 defeat that was still enough to see LAFC through to the quarters 4-2 on aggregate.
If LAFC have concerns, they are defensive. The Black & Gold are capable of dominant defensive performances, but they don’t come consistently. That was a pattern in 2022 and it continues in 2023, when they’ve kept two clean sheets in all competitions but also conceded twice in their other two games.
Winter center back signing Aaron Long looked a bit rough in his first start on Wednesday. And Cherundolo is still riding with veteran MLS backup John McCarthy in goal while Maxime Crepeau recovers from a broken leg sustained in last year’s MLS Cup final.
Seattle Sounders vs LAFC Pick
The value opportunity on the moneyline came early, when the Sounders opened as slight underdogs in the neighborhood of +160. That didn’t last long, and at +115 the line is probably about right.
Remember, home teams won 49% of their games in 2022 and 48% in 2021. The line here reflects that LAFC are a better team than Seattle right now, but not by a lot.
However, something interesting happened last Sunday night, when all the late money came in on New England once the public saw that LAFC’s lineup did not include Vela. That didn’t make much sense, since Vela’s not as integral as a 90-minute player as he used to be. Not to mention, 2021 MLS MVP Carles Gil was also out of the lineup for the Revolution.
The conclusion is that Vela might move money much more than he should. And if it happens again to a significant degree after lineups drop Saturday, fade the late action and pick up LAFC on the money line or a +0.5 handicap.
As it stands at publication time, the value here is on a total that skews a bit lower than the market expects, combined with a close match.
LAFC have not been as explosive in their away games under Cherundolo as in their first four seasons under former manager Bob Bradley. The Sounders also aren’t exactly the type to just run away things.
Both sides have evolved since last season, but I still feel confident using 2022 as a track record to guide my play here since managerial approaches remain similar. I’m playing a same-game parlay on both teams to score and the total landing under 3.5 at +210 odds and an implied 32.3% probability.
For BetMGM players, you can find it pre-built in the “match combos” tab. It’s a wager has cashed in 16-of-36 games between LAFC’s travels’ and Seattle’s home contests going back to the start of the last season.
Pick: Single-Game Parlay: Both teams to score + Under 3.5 (+210 via BetMGM)
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