MLS Betting Preview and Five Values for Saturday
Vincent Carchietta – USA TODAY Sports
While most soccer leagues are on International break this weekend to prep for the 2018 World Cup, Major League Soccer (MLS) will have six matches on Saturday. I’ve been able to find success this season betting MLS by tailing road teams the first week and then picking out home teams the last couple weeks.
One of the many great features on The Action Network is the ability to track wagers based on sport, league, bet type or time frame. The “My Action Analysis” tool lets users easily sort their bet results on both the website and mobile app, so I can quickly find that MLS value plays have gone 6-3 for +10.11 units so far.
Below I’ve previewed each of Saturday’s matches, including 5 picks offering value.
New York City FC at New England Revolution (1:30 p.m. ET)
Moneyline Odds: New England +155, NYC FC +190, Draw +255
NYC FC are the first club to three wins, sitting on a perfect record and currently at the top of the league with nine points. Two of their victories came at home, and they also earned a nice 2-0 shutout in Kansas City on opening weekend. The Revolution lost their season opener in Philadelphia but bounced back with a 2-1 stoppage-time win over Colorado in their next match.
Recent comments from New England players suggest that the squad is happy to have moved on from head coach Jay Heaps to Brad Friedel. A coaching change may be just what they need, but they do have the longest odds to win the MLS Cup at 70-1. On the positive side, they still have talent on the roster and they’ve always been strong at home. NYC FC are missing some key players, such as David Villa, due to injuries, and international duty and will be short-handed compared to that of the full-strength Revs. While I don’t trust New England on the road yet, I’m comfortable taking them to win at home while healthy, so +155 on the Revs is where I’m going.
Portland Timbers at FC Dallas (3:30 p.m. ET)
Moneyline Odds: FC Dallas -130, Portland +397, Draw +290
The Portland Timbers have struggled so far this season with a new manager, losing both matches by a combined score of 6-1, and will be without David Guzman and Andy Polo for national team duty Saturday. FC Dallas, on the other hand, have earned a win and a draw, and looked great against the shorthanded Sounders last weekend.
This line definitely seems like a trap based on public betting percentages and line movement. FC Dallas opened -140 around most of the market but are now down to -130/-135 despite the majority of bettors taking them. It appears that sharper bettors are buying Portland to bounce back after a rough start, but I’m personally not sold they win on the road. Instead, I’m fading the public and taking the draw at +290 for the value play here.
DC United at Columbus Crew (6 p.m. ET)
Moneyline Odds: Columbus -170, DC United +530, Draw +320
#SaveTheCrew. Columbus continues to be in limbo on whether the club will actually stay in Ohio, but they’ve treated fans nicely so far this season with two wins and a draw. Expectations were low for DC United coming into the season, so two draws and a loss could be seen as both good and bad. Both clubs are missing key pieces due to the international break, and it’s hard to tell how they’ll react.
I’ve been tempted to back DC United at +530 odds, but can’t. Columbus has more talent and are rightfully -170 favorites, but I don’t see any value in this game, so I’m passing altogether.
Minnesota United at New York Red Bulls (7 p.m. ET)
Moneyline Odds: NY Red Bulls -280, Minnesota United +790, Draw +475
Minnesota United are off to a hot 2-0-1 start to the season, which puts them tied atop the Western Conference. Despite their strong showing, their odds to win at the Red Bulls have increased from +590 to +790. What makes the movement even more curious is that nearly 40% of offshore tickets have taken Minnesota, yet the line is moving away from them. This is a great indication that sharper money has taken the Red Bulls to win at home, where they’re now up to -280.
Sharp bettors don’t seem to mind that NY will be missing a quartet of players due to national team duty (Tyler Adams, Kemar Lawrence, Michael Murillo and Fidel Escobar). And despite that, the Red Bulls should be able to score against Minnesota. The Loons have conceded in all three matches this season and allow a ton of shots, even against three weak opponents to start the year. At -280 most of the line value is gone, but I expect the Red Bulls to come away with an easy win, so the -1.5 goal line may be a better wager at even money.
Sporting KC at Colorado Rapids (9 p.m. ET)
Moneyline Odds: Colorado +180, Sporting KC +175, Draw +230
Colorado have played only one match, so it’s hard to judge anything at this point, but they almost nabbed a point on the road in the opener vs. New England. They surrendered a deflected free kick goal in stoppage time to drop all three points, but will look to bounce back in their home opener. Sporting KC have two wins and a loss while scoring (7) and conceding (7) the most goals in the league thus far.
The notable betting aspect in this match is the low total of just two goals. Similar to my Premier League strategy, I love taking draws where the moneylines are similar (such as this match at +180/+175/+230) and the total sits at two goals or fewer. I’m forecasting a 1-1 finish for Sporting KC/Colorado, so take the draw at +230 odds.
LA Galaxy at Vancouver Whitecaps (10 p.m. ET)
Moneyline Odds: Vancouver -145, LA Galaxy +516, Draw +315
Vancouver at -105 odds was my favorite bet of the week, but unfortunately those odds are long gone. The market now lists Vancouver at -145/-150 after figuring out that LA will be missing a number of key players, including Bradford Jamieson (concussion), Romain Alessandrini (hamstring), Michael Ciani (groin), Giovani Dos Santos (hamstring), and Jonathan Dos Santos (hamstring). The Galaxy faithful did get some exciting news this week when it was announced that legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic would be signing with LA, but he won’t be in action quite yet. The Galaxy may be a team to jump on later in the season, but I would be laying off LA now. Even at Vancouver -145 I think there’s still a tiny bit of value to be had on the home side. You could also throw them in a moneyline parlay with the Red Bulls for a +130 payout.
Vancouver Whitecaps -145
NY Red Bulls -1.5 (+100)
NE Revolution +155
Colorado/Sporting KC Draw +230
FC Dallas/Portland Draw +290
You can also follow me on Twitter (@ArsenalDMC) with thoughts and betting updates throughout the weekend.
Cover photo is of NYC FC players Maximiliano Moralez (10), midfielder Alexander Ring (8), forward Jesus Medina (19) and forward David Villa from Vincent Carchietta – USA TODAY Sports