MLS Week 5 Betting Preview and Value Plays
© Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
After a successful weekend in MLS, we’re back with more betting previews and value plays for Week 5. There’s one match on Friday night (Real Salt Lake at Toronto, 8 p.m. ET) and another 10 matches on the slate for Saturday.
Two teams have 10 points atop the East (Columbus and New York City FC) and two teams have 7 points atop the West (Sporting KC and Vancouver). However, all eyes will be on “El Trafico” between LA FC and LA Galaxy with the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Whether you love him or hate him, he brings a ton of excitement to MLS. It’s normally tough to get psyched up in March, but this should help. On that note, let’s get right into every match and this week’s best values:
Real Salt Lake at Toronto FC (Friday 8 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: Toronto -209, Real Salt Lake +635, Draw +371
The defending champs Toronto FC are suffering a bit of a hangover as they’re off to an 0-2 start, tied for last in MLS with Chicago and Seattle. Their opponents, Real Salt Lake, were embarrassed 5-1 at home in the second game of the season but responded with a 1-0 home win vs. New York Red Bulls in Week 3. Both teams had last weekend off and should be fresh and ready to go for Friday night.
Oddsmakers expect Toronto FC to take care of business at home — they opened -185 at Pinnacle and Bookmaker and are up to -205 now. The public is loading up on the home side, but I wouldn’t be so sure that Toronto get the victory. Real Salt Lake were one of my darkhorse picks to win the MLS Cup this season and shouldn’t be overlooked, even on the road. The off-week should have allowed for easier travel, and I think they can steal a point as visitors. Toronto FC could be looking ahead to their big CONCACAF Champions League clash on Tuesday night, so don’t expect an easy match for them and take the draw at +370 odds.
New York Red Bulls at Orlando City (Saturday 1 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: Orlando City +140, NY Red Bulls +203, Draw +258
The Red Bulls cruised to an easy 3-0 win over Minnesota last Saturday and now travel south to face another inferior opponent in Orlando City. I was surprised to see Orlando City as short home favorites, but sharp money on the Lions has actually moved their odds from +155 to +140. This line is also really interesting due to the fact that the draw has the longest odds by far at +258 (compared to +140 on Orlando City and +203 on NY Red Bulls). Oddsmakers believe there will be a winner, and although I’d lean toward the road side, sharps have taken a stance on the home side. Therefore I’ll be laying off completely.
LA FC at LA Galaxy (Saturday 3 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: LA Galaxy +160, LA FC +260, Draw +273
All hail, Zlatan! The Galaxy made a big splash this week by signing legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and he’s reportedly available for this clash. The shorthanded LA Galaxy earned a nice point on the road in Vancouver last week, drawing 0-0, so they enter the contest with some momentum. LA FC had the weekend off and will be fresh for the all-LA encounter, cleverly dubbed “El Trafico”.
While most public bettors will simply bet on the Galaxy due to their star power, I don’t think Ibra actually makes them any better. And if he does, it won’t be immediate. They already had plenty of attacking and midfield talent and needed to shore up their defensive unit. The Galaxy should be able to score, but I’m not convinced they can hold opponents on a consistent basis. Bettors will want to pick a side in this match, but I’ll go contrarian and take the draw at +275 odds.
Vancouver Whitecaps at Columbus Crew (Saturday 3 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: Columbus -149, Vancouver +424, Draw +315
The Columbus Crew keep rolling after winning 3-1 at home last weekend. The Whitecaps are also off to a solid start in the West with seven points, but played to a disappointing 0-0 draw with the Galaxy last Saturday. Are the Crew really worthy of being -149 home favorites?
I think oddsmakers are overvaluing Columbus — they should be small home favorites, but nowhere near -149. Public bettors don’t seem to care, as more than 80% of tickets have come in on the Crew. However, they’ve moved from -160 to -149 since opening, signaling a bit of sharp action on the other side. The high total of 3 goals means this game could be wide open, and I see Vancouver being able to play with the Crew. You can get Vancouver +1 goals at -130 odds, and that’s where the value is here. If Vancouver loses by one goal, you’d be refunded.
Portland Timbers at Chicago Fire (Saturday 6 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: Chicago +126, Portland +218, Draw +266
Portand were big underdogs in Dallas last weekend but earned a 1-1 draw on the road, their first point of the season. Chicago did not play and are still looking for their first point of the season. The Fire have been able to score (four goals) but can’t stop teams from scoring (six goals).
Portland had high expectations heading into the season and have some momentum on the road. I don’t have much of a read on Chicago yet, but not much was expected from them this season. I’m not going to overthink this one and will be siding with Portland +218 to get a win.
Atlanta United at Minnesota United (Saturday 8 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: Minnesota +245, Atlanta +110, Draw +279
Minnesota United continue to give up tons of shots and goals, but at least have a couple wins on the season. Atlanta United also have two victories and have bounced back really nicely after a 4-0 opening day defeat to Houston. The public is fairly heavy on short road favorites Atlanta to earn the W, and I actually agree here. The line has fallen from +140 to +110 so the value is mostly gone, but smart money has clearly sided with the public. Atlanta is the far superior team, and I’ll be fading Minnesota until the prove they can stop someone.
New York City FC at San Jose Earthquakes (Saturday 8 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: San Jose +146, NYC FC +190, Draw +260
NYC FC earned a 2-2 draw at the Revs last weekend after erasing two separate deficits. They’ve scored exactly two goals in all four of their matches this season (3 wins, 0 losses, 1 draw).
San Jose have played to a pair of 3-2 games (win and a loss), so goals have been easy to come by. Taking ‘Over’ 3 would appear to be the sensible bet here, but I’ll be passing.
New England Revolution at Houston Dynamo (Saturday 8:30 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: Houston -145, New England +416, Draw +309
Revolution bettors (me) and fans (also me) are still frustrated with New England after they blew two leads last Saturday en route to a 2-2 draw with NYC FC. The Houston Dynamo had the weekend off and have been anxiously awaiting the Revs’ arrival.
All the sharp money has come in on Houston so far, and I can’t argue with that. The Dynamo opened -125 and are up to -145, a win probability change of 3.6%. The Revs have been awful on the road since the beginning of last year and it’s impossible to back them at this point.
DC United at Sporting Kansas City (Saturday 8:30 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: Sporting KC -211, DC United +677, Draw +348
Sporting KC erased a 2-0 deficit in Colorado last Saturday to draw 2-2.
DC United have not a won game yet this season and own a 0-2-2 record thus far. Oddsmakers expect a win from KC at home and the lines all make sense. While I do think Sporting KC get the victory, I’m not sold enough on laying -211, so pass.
Philadelphia Union at Colorado Rapids (Saturday 9 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: Colorado +122, Philadelphia +242, Draw +249
Colorado have given up 90+ minute goals in both their matches so far, squandering three points in the process. Philadelphia have also looked strong but been able to capitalize on their play, earning four points in two matches. Neither team had many expectations entering the season, but both have mildly surprised for the most part.
From a betting point of view, there’s tons of value on Colorado +122 to win. They’ve been home for the last three weeks without having to travel, while Philadelphia had to trek to the high altitude. The Rapids also play a style that could be difficult for the Union to defend with two strikers up front. Philly have yet to concede a goal all season but that should change this weekend.
Montreal Impact at Seattle Sounders (Saturday 10 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: Seattle -169, Montreal +518, Draw +326
Another match where the public and sharps agree, as Seattle have moved from -132 to -169 since opening. I liked Montreal last season but not sure what to make of them in 2018. The Sounders should win at home, but again, I’m not willing to lay -169.
Value Plays (Season: 9-5, +14.22 units)
Toronto/Real Salt Lake Draw (+370)
LA FC/LA Galaxy Draw (+275)
Vancouver +1 (-130) at Columbus
Colorado (+122) vs. Philadelphia
Atlanta (+110) at Minnesota
Portland (+218) at Chicago
And for those curious, here’s a look at the updated odds to win MLS Cup:
Toronto FC +500
NYC FC +550
LA Galaxy +1400
NY Red Bulls +2000
LA FC +2000
Sporting KC +2500
Real Salt Lake +3000
Chicago Fire +3300
Orlando City +3500
Montreal Impact +5000
San Jose +5000
DC United +7000
NE Revs +7000
You can also follow me on Twitter (@ArsenalDMC) for all the latest soccer news and updates.
Cover photo is of Vancouver Whitecaps forward Kei Kamara