Atlanta United vs. Columbus Crew Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions (July 24)
Perry McIntyre/ISI Photos/Getty Images. Pictured: Josef Martinez.
- Atlanta United and Columbus Crew meet on Saturday afternoon to see which club can begin righting the ship.
- Both teams have been Eastern Conference powers but have limped to slow starts this year.
- Ian Quillen breaks down the match below and explains where he finds betting value in this meeting.
Atlanta vs. Columbus Odds
|Over/Under||2.5 (+100 / -125)|
|Day | Time||Saturday | 3:30 p.m. ET|
|How To Watch||ABC | fuboTV|
|Odds updated Friday night via DraftKings.|
Atlanta United looks to snap a nine-match winless run when they host the Columbus Crew on Saturday afternoon in a meeting between perennial Eastern Conference contenders.
Atlanta looked improved in their first match under interim coach Rob Valentino on Wednesday night, earning a 1-1 draw at Cincinnati thanks to Ronald Hernandez's 70th-minute equalizer.
Elsewhere in Ohio, the Crew dominated possession and chances but were held to a 0-0 draw against Nashville SC in their third match at their new Lower.com Stadium.
A win for either club could be the start of a march back toward the top rungs of the table that each club's supporters will expect.
Columbus and Atlanta are the only two American Eastern Conference sides to reach the MLS Cup final since 2015.
Atlanta's Offense is On the Mend
Earlier this week I wrote that jettisoning manager Gabriel Heinze and welcoming back Josef Martinez was bound to at least incrementally help Atlanta's struggling offense.
Early evidence suggests that's the case. Atlanta created 1.58 expected goals (xG) according to American Soccer Analysis, which amounted to their most dynamic offensive performance on the road this season.
Martinez, who returns after he had been banished from the team by Heinze and forced to train by himself, wasn't even the main culprit. (He came on for Valentino in the 65th minute.)
Striker Jackson Conway was worth at least half a goal in xG in his first career MLS start, depending on whose numbers you used. Marcelino Moreno had arguably his best game as an all-around chance creator since debuting for Atlanta last fall.
It's a strong possibility Martinez could start Saturday, given the short turnaround and the fact he wasn't coming off any injury when he returned from Copa America and was subsequently exiled. He also has four goals in six career games against Columbus.
This might also be a good opportunity for Atlanta to preserve its third clean sheet of the season. Columbus was held scoreless for the seventh time on Wednesday, five of those coming on the road.
Columbus Missing Stars to Gold Cup
The Crew probably deserved three points in their last match against Nashville, but you could also look at the scoreless draw as a market correction.
Columbus are last in MLS in xG created at 11.32, according to American Soccer Analysis. They've still scored 15 times if you include three goals turned into their net by their opponents.
Their 1.44 xG on Wednesday — created against a Nashville side not known for freely allowing opportunities — was the Crew's second-highest total of the season.
Columbus has welcomed Kevin Molino (Trinidad and Tobago) and Derrick Etienne Jr. (Haiti) back from CONCACAF Gold Cup duty Wednesday. And Molino missed arguably the best chance against Nashville after coming on as a second-half substitute.
Both these teams continue to deal with international absences.
Atlanta has more in sheer numbers, including goalkeeper Brad Guzan and centerback Miles Robinson. Columbus is arguably suffering the worst loss as it plays on without starting striker Gyasi Zardes, who just happens to have four goals in six games against Atlanta.
Betting Analysis & Pick
We don't know the exact nature or severity of the dispute between Martinez and Heinze.
But we do know Martinez has always said he wants to be in Atlanta for as long as possible. Now the most obvious impediment to that desire has been eliminated.
I can't speak for Martinez, but if I was in that situation, I'd feel a lot better now. And if I was feeling a lot better, I'd most likely play a lot better. And Martinez is a strong candidate to start because of the circumstances, as well as Atlanta's likely penalty taker if he's in the game.
Even with only two goals, a relatively meager haul so far by his standards, he has scored in half his starts, and continues to be further away from the ACL injury that kept him out of almost all of the 2020 campaign.
Then there's his numbers against Columbus. And this version of the Crew is without three of its first-choice back six: Left back Milton Valenzuela (thigh), center back Vito Wormgoor (thigh) and defensive midfielder Artur (hip) are all still out.
Recent struggles have brought down the current odds on Josef Martinez to score anytime to +150 and an implied 40% probability.
That's value unless you sincerely believe the true Martinez is the guy we saw under Heinze, and not the one who scored 83 times in the league from 2017 to 2019.
If you want to wait to make sure he's in the lineup, I like this play as low as +110 if he starts.
You could also consider a similar bet on Columbus playmaker Lucas Zelarayan (+275), but I'm a little hesitant on what would usually be excellent odds because he played a full 90 on Wednesday.
Pick: Josef Martinez — anytime goal scorer (+150)