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MLS Best Bets, Odds: Our 3 Best Sunday Picks, Including LAFC vs. Houston

MLS Best Bets, Odds: Our 3 Best Sunday Picks, Including LAFC vs. Houston article feature image

Omar Vega/Getty Images. Pictured: Giorgio Chiellini

Week 32 of the Major League Soccer season concludes with three Sunday matches that could be pivotal to the playoff picture.

The Columbus Crew and Portland Timbers kick things off in an early afternoon affair on national TV, where both teams will be looking to move closer to a playoff spot.

Inter Miami will aim to boost its own suddenly revived playoff aspirations when they visit D.C. United.

And late on the West Coast, LAFC can keep pace in the Supporters' Shield race and potentially lock up the top seed in the Western Conference in their game against the Houston Dynamo.

Here's our best bets for the Sunday slate.

Our 3 Sunday MLS Best Bets

Columbus vs. Portland

Columbus Odds-129
Portland Odds+320
Over/Under2.5 (-145 / +115)
Day | TimeSunday | 1 p.m. ET
How To WatchESPN
Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Another year, another season with the Portland Timbers making a late surge up the Western Conference table. And this particular late run may owe partly to the health of Eryk Williamson.

The box-to-box midfielder has proven one of Portland's most important players for the cover he provides teammates. And the numbers show it, with the Timbers earning seven of their 11 victories during the 11 games when he starts and plays more than 45 minutes.

Portland's xGDiff per 90 minutes is also increased (more gradually) in those games, bumping up to +0.12 against their overall -0.04 mark. (Williamson missed much of the early season recovering from an ACL tear sustained just over a year ago.)

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Columbus' summer signing of striker Cucho Hernandez has not improved overall performances as much as hoped.

Cucho has done his part with nine goals in 13 appearances. But the xG numbers and overall outcomes are hardly changed. The former are actually worse, with the Crew playing to a -3.8 xGDiff in 11 games since his arrival.

The Crew also don't really have a quality win. They beat New York City FC after the departure of striker Taty Castellanos, FC Cincinnati without suspended playmaker Luciano Acosta, and Inter Miami without their own suspended attacking midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo.

Portland has two away losses in its last six, a full week of rest and Williamson in form.

Columbus has only three wins in its last 10 at home and must recover from a deflating defeat at Miami that included a 2.5-hour weather delay.

Take the visitors to earn at least a point at +105 odds and a 48.8% probability.

Quillen's Pick: Portland +0.5 goals – two-way handicap (+105)

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D.C. vs. Miami

D.C. Odds+135
Miami Odds+180
Over/Under2.5 (-135 / +105)
Day | TimeSunday | 5 p.m. ET
How To WatchESPN+
Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Like our first game of the day, both teams here have also undergone a mid-season transition.

Miami traded for playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo toward the end of the secondary transfer window, and it's paid off.

Since the 2020 MLS MVP arrived in South Florida, Miami have a -0.3 xGDiff in his five away starts. Over a whole season, that would be better than league average.

That sample includes a visit to New York City FC's Yankee Stadium — which has provided arguably the stiffest home-field edge in MLS the last two years, as well as a match at the New York Red Bulls that saw Pozuelo sent off after 28 minutes.

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D.C. United's tactics have changed considerably since Wayne Rooney took over as manager.

The perception is the former Manchester United and England star has improved the squad, and definitely made it tougher to break down.

But that's come at a cost to attacking play, with D.C. shut out in three of four home games since Rooney took charge.

D.C.'s xGDiff per 90 minutes is -0.7 in 11 games under Rooney, nearly a half-goal worse than their overall mark. (In fairness to D.C., it's been a tougher-than-average portion of the schedule.) The Black-and-Red have created more xG than their opponents only twice in that stretch.

With Pozuelo in the fold, striker Leonardo Campana healthy again for Miami and D.C. leading scorer Taxi Fountas likely still in MLS concussion protocols, it's hard to feel comfortable with D.C. as a favorite.

Miami have only two away wins, but they're due some better fortune on the road. And +180 odds and an implied 35.7% probability are good value against the worst team in the league. If you're not sold, you could also consider a two-way handicap wager on Miami +0.5 goals at -170 odds.

Quillen's Pick: Inter Miami ML (+180)

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LAFC vs. Houston

LAFC Odds-400
Houston Odds+800
Over/Under3.5 (+100 / -120)
Day | TimeSunday | 10:30 p.m. ET
How To WatchESPN+
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Yes, LAFC are in a slump. And no, the additions of Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini have not transformed the Black & Gold into the MLS version of The Invincibles.

But some of this should be expected. The xG numbers always suggested LAFC was due for a regression away from home. And their recent road schedule has included difficult visits to second-place Austin FC and third-place FC Dallas.

They are still close to perfect at home and probably not overvalued as a heavy favorite. However, there may be some softness in the line on the total.

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The hosts may score plenty of goals, but they rarely truly pour it on and run away with things. Instead, LAFC often wears down opponents with depth rather than dominating from the open whistle.

And if you look at both teams' trends, you'll see a pretty high likelihood of the total landing somewhere between 3 and 5 goals. In fact, it has landed in that range on 21 of 30 occasions (a 70% rate) between LAFC home and Dynamo away games.

The multi-goal line on 3-5 goals is available at -130 odds and an implied 56.5% probability. Take it.

Quillen's Pick: 3-5 goals – Multi Goals (-130)

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