MLS Week 9 Betting Preview and Picks
© Kirby Lee – USA TODAY Sports
The MLS season is flying by and we’re more than a quarter through the campaign already. Last weekend Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the LA Galaxy were shutout, 2-0, at home against the MLS Cup favorites, Atlanta United, while the Chicago Fire pulled off a big upset (+678 moneyline) over the New York Red Bulls. Value plays keep on rolling along and are now up +19.72 units for a 56% ROI on the year.
This weekend there are 11 matches on the slate for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, most notably:
- Real Salt Lake at Vancouver Whitecaps (Friday, 10:30 p.m. ET)
- Sporting Kansas City at New England Revolution (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET)
- New York Red Bulls at LA Galaxy (Saturday 10:30 p.m. ET)
- FC Dallas at New York City FC (Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET)
Below I’ve analyzed the betting market for every game to find four plays that I’m betting.
(All lines as of Friday afternoon 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)
Real Salt Lake at Vancouver Whitecaps (Friday 10:30 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: Vancouver -106, Real Salt Lake +307, Draw +278
This is already the second meeting of the season between these clubs with Real Salt Lake winning the first matchup, 2-1, at home on April 7th. Vancouver have really been struggling recently and suffered an ugly 6-0 loss at Sporting Kansas City last weekend. Real Salt Lake are coming off a 3-0 home victory over the upstart Colorado Rapids, and will be looking to win consecutive matches for the first time this season.
The results have been so poor for Vancouver that players have spoken about the embarrassment in interviews, and they’ll be looking to get back on track Friday night. The Whitecaps are actually the odds-on favorites at -106 to beat RSL and snap their losing streak, which is a big leap of faith for the betting market.
Vancouver will once again be without striker Kei Kamara due to injury, which is a big loss for their offense — the Whitecaps have scored 1.1 more goals per game with Kamara on the field compared to off the field this season. Home-field advantage will clearly help on Friday night, but the price is off in my opinion.
The best value in this match is Real Salt Lake +0.5 goals (-115) to earn either a win or draw. Their midfield has been a bit suspect this season and they’ve conceded often on the road, but I don’t think Vancouver will be able to capitalize.
Montreal Impact at Atlanta United (Saturday 1 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: Atlanta -264, Montreal +709, Draw +467
Atlanta United are the hottest team in the MLS right now with a six-match unbeaten run, including five victories. They’re the new MLS Cup favorites at +450 and will be looking to extend their streak at home against Montreal on Saturday afternoon.
Last weekend the Impact had a 3-1 lead at home against LA FC, but a red card crushed their chances to hold on en route to a 5-3 loss. This is already the second match this season that Montreal were doomed by a red card and they’ve lost both of those games that they feasibly could have won.
The betting market does seem to be undervaluing Montreal here, while also overvaluing Atlanta. Public bettors have no problem laying -264 on Atlanta and are heavy on Atlanta -1.5 goals as well, but this is a prime letdown spot. Most bettors simply see the great results for Atlanta and poor results for Montreal, but haven’t taken into consideration what it took to get there. At +1.5 goals (-113), Montreal is the bet.
Chicago Fire at Toronto FC (Saturday 3 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: Toronto -158, Chicago +465, Draw +325
Toronto FC are finally done with the CONCACAF Champions League after losing to Guadalajara in the final. They’ve shuffled lineups all season long in addition to prolonged travel, injuries and illnesses, and are coming off a 5-1 loss in Houston in their most recent MLS match. They’re still one of the best teams in the league when healthy, which is why they’re sizable -158 home favorites against Chicago on Saturday.
The Fire finally come into a match with some confidence after beating the New York Red Bulls as +678 moneyline underdogs, but I wouldn’t bank on another upset. Nearly all the early line movement has been toward Toronto to get the win at home, and the odds are fair all around. I’ll be laying off this one because it’s difficult to tell if Toronto will be fully “back” yet.
DC United at Philadelphia Union (Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: Philadelphia -122, DC United +380, Draw +275
The Philadelphia Union head into the weekend reeling from a 2-0 loss at Dallas and have now been shutout four times already this year. The stats say they’ve been a bit unlucky, but the poor results have them slipping in the standings. Fortunately they’ve had great historical success against DC United, and they’re the odds-on favorites (-122) to win Saturday afternoon.
DC United didn’t play last weekend but notched their first win of the season against Columbus in Week 7. They should be well-rested and will hope to continue their winning momentum on the road in Philadelphia.
I lean toward the Union to finally score some goals and get a win here, but I can’t really justify paying -122. I’ll be passing on this match that hardly anyone will be watching.
San Jose Earthquakes at Columbus Crew (Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: Columbus -194, San Jose +594, Draw +359
The Crew earned a 2-2 draw against the Revolution last weekend to snap their three-game losing streak, and they stay at home against a Western Conference club they know they can beat.
San Jose went down, 3-0, at Orlando City last Saturday but almost earned a draw in a 3-2 loss. There have been no shutouts in any of the six matches the Earthquakes have played in this season.
Home teams clearly have a distinct advantage in MLS, as evidenced by the lofty -194 odds on the Crew. This should be a comfortable win for Columbus but they’ve made things more difficult than they need to be all year, so I can’t warrant the big price.
Sporting Kansas City at New England Revolution (Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: NE Revs +149, Sporting KC +201, Draw +243
The Revolution have been one of the biggest surprises this season and currently sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. They’re gelling at the right time and will need to continue that at Fortress Foxborough against one of the league’s best teams on Saturday, Sporting Kansas City.
As mentioned earlier, Sporting KC dominated a short-handed Vancouver squad last weekend, 6-0. The betting market gives KC a 2-1 chance to win in New England with the draw listed at +243. The Revs are slight favorites at +149.
Although the draw has the longest odds in this match, I believe that’s where the value lies. Public bettors are jumping on Sporting KC to win, but New England play far better at home than the road, so grab the draw at +243.
Houston Dynamo at Minnesota United FC (Saturday 8 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: Houston +158, Minnesota +181, Draw +254
I’ve fortunately been fading Minnesota for the last month, but this will be the match I’m avoiding. The three-way moneylines are much shorter than I expected, and the market tells me that Minnesota could grab a positive result Saturday.
New York Red Bulls at LA Galaxy (Saturday 10:30 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: LA Galaxy +122, NY Red Bulls +237, Draw +261
The Galaxy opened as small home favorites but early line movement is on the Red Bulls. This will be the third match on Saturday night where the draw is listed with the longest odds, indicating the market anticipates a winner.
The high O/U of 3 also means that goals should be flowing in, and I could see a 2-1 victory by either side. The problem is, I’m not sure which club grabs the winner, so I’m passing.
Orlando City SC at Colorado Rapids (Sunday 4 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: Colorado -102, Orlando City +303, Draw +269
The Rapids were a bit unlucky in their last outing, losing for the first time since opening day. Orlando City have had all the luck in their favor, winning four straight games in high-scoring affairs. Don’t get me wrong, the Lions are a very talented team, but they’ve been overperforming and conceding too many goals.
I’ve been on the losing end of a couple different Orlando City wins lately, but I’m ready to fade them once again. I really like what I’ve seen from Colorado all season and they have a unique home-field advantage with high altitude. This should be the match where Orlando City comes back down to earth, so I’m taking Colorado -102 to win.
FC Dallas at New York City FC (Sunday 6:30 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: NYC FC -134, Dallas +377, Draw +312
In one of the best matches of the weekend, FC Dallas travels to Yankee Stadium to face NYC FC. New York leads the entire league in points (17) while Dallas is tied for second in the Western Conference with 12 points.
Incredibly, NYC FC haven’t lost consecutive matches since April of 2016 and are -134 favorites to claim victory on Sunday night. FC Dallas were one of my MLS Cup picks prior to the season so I’m almost always hoping they can get points, but I never like going against NYC FC at Yankee Stadium. The small and compact field tends to make opponents uncomfortable and it’s hard to know what to expect. This will be a fun, exciting match to watch, but I’m not quite sure where the right bet is.
Seattle Sounders at LA FC (Sunday 9 p.m. ET)
Moneyline odds: LA FC -114, Seattle +321, Draw +292
LA FC have been another squad outperforming early expectations and find themselves as home favorites over one of the preseason Cup favorites. Seattle, on the other hand, have had a rough start to the season in terms of injuries, results and red cards, but finally earned their first victory last week against lowly Minnesota United.
Early bettors aren’t as convinced on LA FC and their odds have dropped about 10 cents since opening. They did win, 1-0, over Seattle in the opening match of the season, but the Sounders are starting to come together as a squad. I definitely lean toward Seattle +0.5 goals, but not enough to warrant a wager.
Value Plays (Season: 21-14, +19.72 units), All plays risk 1 unit
Real Salt Lake +0.5 goals (-115) at Vancouver
Montreal +1.5 goals (-113) at Atlanta
New England/Sporting KC Draw (+243)
Colorado (-102) vs. Orlando City
Lastly, here are updated MLS Cup Odds at 5Dimes:
Atlanta United are the new MLS Cup favorites at +450, followed by New York City FC (+500), Toronto FC (+1000) and Sporting KC (+1000). Both LA squads are nearby at +1200, and three teams are listed at 100-1 odds (Philadelphia, Minnesota, DC United).
You can also follow me on Twitter (@ArsenalDMC) for all the latest soccer news and updates.
Cover photo features LA Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Atlanta United defender Michael Parkhurst