New York City FC vs. Columbus Betting Preview: Major League Soccer Odds & Picks: (Saturday, May 22)

New York City FC vs. Columbus Betting Preview: Major League Soccer Odds & Picks: (Saturday, May 22) article feature image
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Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Columbus Crew SC.

  • New York City FC and Columbus meet on Saturday, May 22 for a Major League Soccer match that appears more lopsided on paper than it really is.
  • Despite New York's early-season scoring edge and Columbus' injury woes, soccer analyst Ian Quillen deems Saturday's game closer to an even match.
  • Below, find our Major League Soccer betting preview for New York City FC vs. Columbus, including updated odds, comprehensive analysis and Quillen's pick for Saturday's match.

NYCFC vs. Columbus Odds

NYCFC Odds -156
Columbus Odds +420
Draw +280
Over/Under 2.5 (-139 / +102)
Day | Time Saturday | 7:30 p.m. ET
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Odds updated Friday night via DraftKings.

It’s feast vs. famine when NYCFC hosts Columbus on Saturday night.

New York’s 10 goals scored through five matches are the most in the Eastern Conference and tied for second-most in MLS.

Meanwhile, Columbus’ three goals are tied for the fewest in MLS. Furthermore, two of those three goals have come by way of opposing defenders.

The contrast in form would suggest a relatively easy day for the hosts. But is there more to it than that?

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NYCFC: Fortune or Folly?

For all the Cityzens’ offensive dynamism, it hasn’t yet brought a statement victory.

The promise of a 2-0 triumph at the Philadelphia Union must be tempered by the reality the Union were using a rotated squad and were reduced to 10 men early in the match.

Moreover, the ease of a 5-0 romp past FC Cincinnati owed to five set-piece goals rather than anything City generated from open play.

More recently, NYCFC has settled for a pair of draws despite creating at least 1.0 expected goals (xG) worth of chances — more than their opponent in each match, according to MLSsoccer.com.

Playmaker Maxi Moralez missed both draws with a quadriceps injury and is questionable to return on Saturday.

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Columbus: Simply Injury Woes, or Something More Pernicious?

Even thought the Crew are defending MLS Cup champions, their offensive struggles aren’t exactly a revelation.

Columbus’ 34 goals a season ago were only tied for eighth in the league, despite exceeding their xG by four goals in 2020, according to American Soccer Analysis.

The Crew’s CONCACAF Champions League commitments may also explain some of the lack of end product. Even so, the failure to create even 1.0 xG in any of the last four league matches is a little startling — as is generating fewer xG than their opponent in all four of those matches.

The question is whether that is the manifestation of fatigue and injuries following a stretch of six matches in 19 days … or a bigger problem. Even if it is a health and depth issue, not all of those problems will be fixed by Saturday.

The Crew bring an injury list of eight players to The Bronx. Three starters from the last week’s 1-0 loss to New England are questionable: Defender Waylon Francis (thigh) and midfielders Derrick Etienne Jr. (thigh) and Artur (hip).

Betting Analysis & Pick

This is a game that asks bettors which version of the truth they believe.

If you’re betting on NYCFC, you may have concluded that their lofty xG totals will be rewarded with more ruthlessness — or even just regression to the mean — in the days ahead.

If you’re betting on Columbus, you’re banking on the full week of rest to bring out more of the 2020 offense rather than the early 2021 edition.

I think there’s more reason to buy the latter scenario.

City’s wastefulness according to xG can be at least partly attributed to the continued absence of Heber in the No. 9 role (The Brazilian tore his ACL last September).

By contrast, the most important pieces of Columbus’ attack — Lucas Zelarayan, Pedro Santos, Gyasi Zardes, Darlington Nagbe — remain healthy and available.

Columbus will put it together eventually. And there’s enough of a chance it happens Saturday to make me bullish on taking the Crew or a draw with a double-chance wager at +127 odds. Those odds imply a win probability of 44%, and this is a more even contest than recent form suggests.

Pick: Columbus or Draw, double chance (+127)

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