MLS Week 8 Betting Preview and Value Picks

MLS Week 8 Betting Preview and Value Picks article feature image
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© Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to ignore the impact and attention that LA Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic has brought to the MLS recently. He’s made appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live and the Dan Patrick Show via phone call, and he’s clearly soaking it all up. It’ll be interesting to see how the entire season plays out, especially since he may be World Cup-bound with Sweden, but the added exposure for the league has to be a positive. There are plenty of other great players, teams and storylines to follow, and hopefully his presence will help put them in focus.

 

Another positive in this MLS season has been picking out value plays (18-12, +18.54 units). While it’s still early, last weekend was another successful one and we hope to keep it rolling during a weekend with three very high-profile matchups:

  • Vancouver Whitecaps at Sporting Kansas City (Friday, 9 p.m. ET)
  • Atlanta United at LA Galaxy (Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET)
  • New York City FC at Portland Timbers (Sunday, 6 p.m. ET)

(All lines as of Friday morning via Pinnacle sportsbook; All betting percentages as of Friday afternoon via offshore market average. Bettors can find all the latest odds and betting percentages with a Sports Insights membership)

Vancouver Whitecaps at Sporting Kansas City (Friday 9 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: Sporting KC -191, Vancouver +620, Draw +334

Vancouver looks to recover after dropping their last two games, most recently a 2-0 home loss to LA FC. Striker Kei Kamara (groin) is out, which could further impact the line — Kamara already has three goals and two assists this season for the Whitecaps, and is always a presence when he’s on the field.

Sporting KC are coming off a 2-2 home draw vs. Seattle, a somewhat disappointing result even though it extended their unbeaten run to six matches. Fortunately they come into Friday night’s match healthy, and they’ve had solid historical success against Vancouver at home (4-1-1).

Since opening -201, Sporting KC has moved to -191, a slight drop-off. The majority of bets have come in on Vancouver to win (+620) and draw (+334), which has brought the lines down accordingly. I can’t justify paying -191 for Sporting to win at home and don’t see much value on Vancouver or the draw. Pass.

LA FC at Montreal Impact (Saturday 1 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: Montreal +138, LA FC +184, Draw +281

LA FC earned a solid 2-0 win at Vancouver last weekend after head coach Bob Bradley switched to a 4-3-3 formation. LA has plenty of attacking firepower including Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi, so the more offensive-minded formation makes sense.

Montreal suffered a 3-1 road loss at New York Red Bulls last Saturday, pushing their all-time record at the Red Bulls to nine losses, zero wins, zero draws. The scoreline was a bit misleading considering the Impact played pretty well while generating quality chances. They also got back one of their best players, Ignacio Piatti, due to injury, which should help them down the road.

The market clearly thinks there will be a winner in this one with Montreal set at +138 and LA FC +184. The draw has the longest odds at +281, and neither of these teams has drawn a match in 11 tries this season. However, at a price of +281, there’s great value in this game ending 1-1 or 2-2.

Toronto FC at Houston Dynamo (Saturday 3 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: Houston -215, Toronto +679, Draw +371

Count me in as one of the people happy to see Toronto FC scrambling their lineups early in the season. Sportsbooks around the market have continuously been slow to react to lineup changes caused by mid-week CONCACAF Champions League games, and bettors have been able to pounce on soft lines. For last weekend’s match, Colorado opened +200 against Toronto FC and closed at +100, showing just how much odds can fluctuate due to lineups. Colorado scored in the second minute of that game and led the whole way en route to a 2-0 victory.

This will probably be the last match where you can take advantage of fading Toronto FC. The Houston Dynamo are coming off a 2-2 draw with San Jose and will be looking to jump on another depleted Toronto lineup since the Canadian club plays the second leg of the Champions League Final on April 25th.

The Dynamo haven’t played that poorly this season but have already dropped two home games, and have conceded exactly two goals in four straight matches overall. This is the perfect weekend to get back to their winning ways at home against a club that will have all its focus on Wednesday vs. Guadalajara. Putting Houston (-215) in a parlay is where I’m going here.

Chicago Fire at New York Red Bulls (Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: NY Red Bulls -205, Chicago +562, Draw +396

The crowd showed up last week in Chicago, but the Fire were shut out against Ibrahimovic and the LA Galaxy, losing, 1-0. Chicago have struggled putting anything together offensively with only 19 shots on target in five games, including four home matches.

Last week the Red Bulls won, 3-1, vs. Montreal, a nice bounce-back victory after bowing out of the Champions League. I expected the Red Bulls to open at least -200 in this one, and they’re currently at -205/-210 around the market. That’s a fair price considering this game could be a blowout, so I’m going with NY Red Bulls -205 in a parlay with Houston -215, which pays out about +118.

New England Revolution at Columbus Crew (Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: Columbus -152, NE Revs +439, Draw +322

The Revs lost, 1-0, at home against Dallas last weekend in tough conditions, a rare letdown for the hosts in Foxboro. They generated chances and played well overall, but couldn’t find the back of the net. On Saturday night they have a chance to equal last season’s entire point total on the road (one win, three draws, 13 losses) if they can get a win in Ohio.

The Crew are coming off a 1-0 road loss at DC United, a really poor result considering they were up a man for the last 40 minutes and outshot DC 24-5. They’ve mustered only one goal over the last three games after netting eight in their first four. Has it recently just been bad luck, or was their early season eruption a facade?

Columbus opened -154 on the moneyline, much higher than I expected. This is a match that both teams believe they can, and should, win — even New England on the road. I love the value on the Revs +0.5 goals (+125) to keep this one close and possibly even get the victory.

San Jose Earthquakes at Orlando City SC (Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: Orlando City -142, San Jose +396, Draw +324

Orlando City have now won three straight games and even held Philadelphia goalless last weekend in a 2-0 road victory. It was a nice payout for those who backed them at +465 odds, although I was unfortunately on the wrong side of that one.

San Jose will head to Florida off two straight draws and they probably wouldn’t mind another as the odds on one are +325. The Earthquakes are +396 to win outright while Orlando City are -142 favorites, all justified lines. I can’t quite figure out Orlando City this year so I’m sitting this one out.

 

Philadelphia Union at FC Dallas (Saturday 8 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: Dallas -156, Philadelphia +480, Draw +310

Another big home favorite here as FC Dallas opened -155/-160 around the market. They should be feeling good after a solid road win in New England and they haven’t lost a game yet this year (two wins, three draws). They also have yet to concede multiple goals in any match this season.

The Union haven’t won since opening day (two draws, two losses), while being shut out three times. They also haven’t won on the road in 13 MLS matches dating back to last year, and it’s hard seeing them breaking that streak Saturday night. They’re +480 on the moneyline to win and +310 to draw.

This line is actually a bit shorter than I thought, as I expected it to be in the -180 to -200 range. While I sense a little bit of a trap line, FC Dallas -156 is the bet.

Colorado Rapids at Real Salt Lake (Saturday 9 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: Real Salt Lake -105, Colorado +316, Draw +267

Colorado earned a convenient 2-0 home win over Toronto FC last weekend, who fielded “reserves” as they prepared for the two-legged CONCACAF Champions League. Still, the Rapids led the entire game after scoring 78 seconds in and never looked back. Points are points, and three at home is always the mission.

While most other lines haven’t moved much yet, this one has. Colorado opened +364 and dipped down to +316, while the draw fell from +287 to +267. Those aren’t huge line moves, but three-way moneylines usually all shift together. Real Salt Lake moving from -123 to -105 indicates a -4.14% drop in win probability. Clearly some sharp money has come in on Colorado to get a result in this one, but the value is basically gone, so I’ll be laying off.

Atlanta United at LA Galaxy (Saturday 10:30 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: LA Galaxy +116, Atlanta +234, Draw +282

There will be no shortage of high-profile players in this match late Saturday night, and these clubs both sit second in the table in their respective conferences. Atlanta United played to a 2-2 home draw with NYC FC in an exciting match last Sunday while the Galaxy won in Chicago on an Ashley Cole-to-Zlatan Ibrahimovic goal.

This will be a popular game for the public to bet on, and they’ll likely want to pick a winner. LA opened +119, moved up to +126, fell to +110, and are now at +116. The Galaxy’s back line still worries me, so I wouldn’t feel confident backing LA against a powerful Atlanta United squad. If the Galaxy grab an early lead, I’d consider live betting the draw and/or Atlanta United.

Minnesota United at Seattle Sounders (Sunday 4 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: Seattle -275, Minnesota +827, Draw +445

Seattle scored for the first time last week in a 2-2 draw at Sporting Kansas City, a solid result for the Sounders (+0.5 goals was listed at +125). Coming back home against a poor Minnesota team means they should feel confident scoring goals.

Meanwhile, the Loons of Minnesota suffered another loss, 3-2, at Portland last weekend. They’ve been automatic fade material after a quick start to the season and have yet to sew things up defensively. Just how bad are they now? Well, they’re listed at +827 to win in Seattle and +445 just to earn a draw. The Sounders are -275 on the moneyline, an implied win probability of 73%. Reminder: Seattle still haven’t won a match this season yet.

I expect Seattle to be placed in a lot of moneyline parlays this weekend and I don’t blame bettors. However, the price is just too steep on a squad that hasn’t proven anything yet, so it’s not quite worth the risk for me.

New York City FC at Portland Timbers (Sunday 6 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: Portland +129, NYC FC +208, Draw +280

NYC FC drew, 2-2, in a thriller Sunday night in Atlanta, a solid road result to keep them atop the Eastern Conference. They’re four points ahead of Atlanta and are one of two undefeated teams remaining (along with FC Dallas) in the entire league.

Portland is one of the best atmospheres for a match in the United States, and the home-field advantage means the Timbers are the slight ‘favorites’ at +129. While I’ve been impressed with NYC FC so far as the new MLS Cup favorites, a trip out West is always difficult. I can see this line coming down by Sunday night, so grab Portland +129 while you can.

Value Plays (Season: 18-12, +18.54 units)
Montreal/LA FC Draw (+281)
NE Revolution +0.5 goals (+125)
Houston + NY Red Bulls parlay (+118)
FC Dallas (-156) vs. Philadelphia
Portland (+129) vs. NYC FC

And a look at updated odds via 5Dimes to win the 2018 MLS Cup:

New York City FC and Atlanta United have cemented themselves at the top of the MLS table while Toronto FC have drifted to +700 after a busy start to the season. Both LA squads’ odds have improved, and the Columbus Crew have increased significantly from +3300 to +7000.

You can also follow me on Twitter (@ArsenalDMC) for all the latest soccer news and updates.

Cover photo features Orlando City striker Dom Dwyer