MLS Betting Picks: Minnesota United vs. Sporting Kansas City, Toronto FC vs. Vancouver (Aug. 21)

Credit:

Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images. Pictured: Pablo Piatti

  • Friday's MLS slate is loaded but Jeremy Pond thinks the best betting value can be found in Toronto FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps and Minnesota United vs. Sporting Kansas City.
  • Check out Jeremy's full betting preview for both games and read why he thinks Friday night's feature matches could feature plenty of scoring:

Life in the world of Major League Soccer continues its push to normalcy during abnormal times, with matches being played across the North American landscape.

Several contests take place Friday around the league, highlighted by the Canadian rematch between Toronto FC and Vancouver. But kicking off just before that, a Western Conference matchup between Minnesota and Sporting KC.


Odds as of Friday at 1 a.m. ET and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.


Minnesota vs. Sporting KC Odds

Minnesota odds +150 [BET NOW]
Sporting KC odds +160 [BET NOW]
Draw +250 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 2.5 (-152/+120) [BET NOW]
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
TV MLS Live on ESPN+

Marquee clubs Minnesota United and Sporting Kansas City go at it in a key Western Conference showdown after solid performances at the MLS is Back tournament in Orlando.

Minnesota, which is unbeaten at home against Sporting Kansas City in four matches, reached the semifinal round of the mid-summer showcase in Florida and has announced itself as a top MLS Cup contender this season.

Sporting Kansas City had a somewhat disappointing showing at the MLS is Back tournament, seeing its run end at the competition with a loss against Philadelphia in the knockout round.

Statistically, Minnesota United and Sporting Kansas City are two of the top teams in the Western Conference when it comes to the data. Minnesota sits at 3.8 expected goals and 3.7 expected goals against for a +0.1 expected goals differential. The Loons’ xGDiff for 90 minutes is +0.09 on the number.

Sporting Kansas City’s numbers are very similar in the same statistical categories (2.8 xGF/2.6 xGA = 0.2 xGDiff and 0.10 xGDiff/90) this season.

On paper, this really is a tough game to handicap despite Minnesota United’s past success against Sporting Kansas City. These franchises could play 10 matches with their current rosters and split them down the middle.

That said, I am backing Sporting Kansas City to cover the spread in this contest. These clubs are so evenly matched that I could see this tilt ending in a draw. I am also backing both teams to score goals as part of my plays.

The Bets: Sporting Kansas City +0.5 (-186); Both Teams To Score – Yes (-195)

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Toronto FC vs. Vancouver Odds

Toronto FC odds -335 [BET NOW]
Vancouver odds +750 [BET NOW]
Draw +460 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 3.5 (+115/-148) [BET NOW]
Time 8 p.m. ET
TV TSN 4/5

The Reds had their way in the opening match, rolling to a 3-0 shutout win against the Whitecaps in Toronto. Pablo Piatti, making his first appearance at BMO Field after being signed as a designated player back in February, scored twice and substitute Nick DeLeon added the other in a convincing home triumph.

Toronto FC, which closed as nearly a 3-1 favorite prior to kickoff, dominated throughout and never let Vancouver gain its footing in the contest.

The Reds have been one of the league’s best on the data and team analytics side of things. Toronto FC sits at a whopping 6.2 expected goals and 1.8 expected goals against for a +4.4 expected goals differential, which is No. 2 among MLS franchises. The Reds’ xGDiff for 90 minutes of +1.49 is also second-best in the league.

On the other side, Vancouver is well behind Toronto FC in the same categories (3.5 xGF/3.0 xGA = 0.5 xGDiff and 0.17 xGDiff/90).

Much like Thursday’s Columbus-Chicago match, it would be irresponsible to look past the obvious in the game. Toronto FC is far and away the better side, led by Piatti, Jozy Altidore and Alejandro Pozuelo. The Reds controlled the middle of the park in the first leg of this two-match series and there’s no reason to believe a repeat of that performance won’t come here.

I do forecast Toronto FC coming out on top in this spot, but have a hard time believing Vancouver won’t at least put up a better fight the second time around. That said, I am backing both clubs to score and the total going over the number. Expect another wide-open affair again, but it to be less one-sided in this latest showdown.

The Bets: Both Teams To Score – Yes (-129); Total Over 3 Goals (-143)

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