MLS Betting: Finding Value in Thursday Night’s El Tráfico

Credit:

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: LA Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic

  • There are two important MLS matches scheduled for Thursday night: Orlando City vs. New York Red Bulls, and LA FC vs. LA Galaxy.
  • Road teams went 3-0 on Wednesday night, and public bettors are loading up on both road sides on Thursday night.
  • Despite the small two-match slate, there is a value play on the board tonight.

Wednesday night’s MLS action was an extremely rare occurrence where all three road teams won, and home teams failed to earn a single point. Value plays were also a success, going 2-1 for +1.7 units.

There are two more matches on the slate for Thursday night and both should be worth tuning in for:

  • New York City FC at Orlando City SC (8 p.m. ET)
  • LA Galaxy at LA FC (10:30 p.m. ET)

After analyzing the betting market for both matches, I’ve picked out one value play.

Season Record: 35-40-2, +17.68 units, 24% ROI


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New York City FC at Orlando City SC

Moneyline odds:  NYC FC +134, Orlando City +186, Draw +286
Total: 3 (o-130)
Time: 8 p.m. ET

NYC FC are on a roll and have won three straight games by a combined score of 6-0, all against Eastern Conference opponents: Columbus, Montreal and New York Red Bulls. They’ve also won three consecutive meetings against Orlando City by an aggregate score of 8-0.

Down south, not much has gone right for Orlando City. Last week they nearly earned their second straight win, but conceded two late goals (controversially) in a 3-2 loss at Columbus. It’s been a brutal couple months for the club and they’ve now dropped 10 of 11 games. Despite the funk, head coach James O’Connor said he was “exceptionally proud of the players, and that’s the main point to get across”.

It must feel great as a player to still have the support from the coaching staff, but the team has been atrocious. They’ve given up the most goals in the league (45), have the worst goal differential (-12), and are tied for the most losses (12).

Public bettors have taken note and are avoiding Orlando City as much as they can. Just 7% of moneyline bets are on the home side and their odds have increased from +172 to +190 since opening. There’s a little bit more support on the draw (14%), but those odds have also drifted from +270 to +298.

On the flip side, everyone has been betting on NYC FC, both square and sharp. They’re receiving nearly 80% of bets and their odds have dropped from +148 to +131.

‘Over’ 3 goals has also attracted extremely lopsided support with more than 90% of tickets, increasing the juice from -120 to -130.

The contrarian angles in this match would be to take Orlando City and the under, but I can’t really justify either bet. I think the sharps and squares have this one right but I’ll be laying off now that the value is gone.

LA Galaxy at LA FC

Moneyline odds: LA FC -110, LA Galaxy +280, Draw +302
Total: 3.5 (u-120)
Time: 10:30 p.m. ET

Fans and bettors may not remember the first “El Trafico” meeting between the LA Galaxy and LA FC, but both teams certainly do. LA FC held a 3-0 lead in that match before conceding four unanswered goals in the second half to lose, 4-3. It was the Galaxy’s newly-acquired Zlatan Ibrahimovic who propelled the historic, comeback victory.


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LA FC will have home-field advantage this time and have gone nine consecutive games without a loss at Banc of California Stadium. However, they’re coming off a disappointing 5-1 thumping in Minnesota and coach Bob Bradley admitted they were “terrible in all ways” and “the mentality was bad so in all ways we deserved to get smacked”. The good news is that they rested two key pieces, Carlos Vela and Lee Nguyen, who will both surely be in the lineup tonight.

The LA Galaxy are hitting their stride, winners of three straight and seven unbeaten, and will look to carry that momentum against their new rivals. Public bettors have been really enticed by the plus-money odds on the Galaxy, but they’ve actually increased from +240 to +275 since opening. The 45% of tickets on the road team is clearly all public and not sharp.

LA FC are the odds-on favorites at home, but they’ve only received 37% of the bets. I’m still not sold on the Galaxy’s defense and goals are expected to fly in with a high total of 3.5. This is a great spot to go contrarian and take the home side LA FC (-107) to get all three points.

Value Plays

LA FC (-107) vs. LA Galaxy

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