MLS Betting Odds, Picks, Preview, Predictions: Our 3 Best Bets, Featuring Charlotte FC vs. LA Galaxy (March 5)

MLS Betting Odds, Picks, Preview, Predictions: Our 3 Best Bets, Featuring Charlotte FC vs. LA Galaxy (March 5) article feature image

Michael Janosz/ISI Photos/Getty Images. Pictured: Los Angeles Galaxy star Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez.

A sellout crowd is expected for the Charlotte FC home debut at Bank of America Stadium on Saturday when Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and the Los Angeles Galaxy come to town for their Major League Soccer showdown.

Elsewhere, reigning MLS Cup champion New York City FC head to the Pacific Northwest in search of their first points of the 2022 campaign.

And FC Cincinnati looks to bounce back from an embarrassing 5-0 loss on opening weekend at Austin when it hosts D.C. United.

That said, let's take a look at our three best bets on a busy, 12-match Saturday slate across the North American landscape.

Saturday's MLS Best Bets

Vancouver vs. NYCFC Odds

Vancouver Odds+250
NYCFC Odds-110
Over/Under2.5 (-140 / +100)
Day | TimeSaturday | 6 p.m. ET
How To WatchESPN+ 
Odds updated via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.

On the surface, this line sort of makes sense.

New York City FC was average on the road by MLS standards last season, but the club was actually second in the Eastern Conference in away expected goals difference at +1.8 despite taking only 17 points from 17 games.

Conversely, Vancouver won 10 of 17 "home" games despite a -3.2 xGDiff in those contests. And the Whitecaps looked awful in their opening 4-0 away loss to Columbus.

However, here's the catch. The pandemic forced Vancouver to play its April through early July home schedule in the United States. Its home xGDiff was slightly in positive territory after returning home, and even better once Vanni Sartini took over as manager. And in the metric meaning the most, Vancouver posted an 8-1-3 record (W-L-D) in 12 league games at BC Place.

The visiting Cityzens are more talented, but they're also traveling west for the second time in as many weekends, with a midweek CONCACAF Champions League tilt looming on their schedule. And even by xG metrics alone on the home away/splits, this line should be more even.

So, I’m all over the Whitecaps here on a Draw No Bet wager, forgoing the outright money line in deference to the NYCFC playmakers.

Quillen's Pick: Vancouver — Draw No Bet (+160)

Cincinnati vs. D.C. United Odds

Cincinnati Odds+240
D.C. United Odds+110
Over/Under2.5 (-130 / +104)
Day | TimeSaturday | 6 p.m. ET
How To WatchESPN+
Odds updated via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.

Hopes of a quick FC Cincinnati turnaround under a new front office and manager have been blunted following its embarrassing opener in Texas.

However, you’re never as bad as you look or as good as you look. That's worth considering both for Cincinnati and for D.C. United. The latter were flattered by a 3-0 win over Charlotte FC this past Saturday. 

United was second best for the opening 30 minutes against its expansion foes before going ahead through a penalty, then via a fluky goal from distance. The xG totals favored them because of the penalty, and would've been worse had an apparent goal not been ruled out for offside following video review.

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And manager Hernan Losada of D.C. United is extremely short in defensive midfield, having jettisoned Junior Moreno to Cincinnati and Felipe Martins to Austin, then losing Russell Canouse to a groin injury.

Former D.C. playmaker Luciano Acosta — a lone bright spot for Cincinnati in 2021 — and striker Brenner should take advantage. The latter missed Week 1 with visa issues.

The Black-and-Red conceded at least twice 11 times from 17 away games in 2021. Cincinnati scored at least twice in six of 17 home games (despite winning only one of those matches!).

The combined home/road sample offers a 50% hit rate on a home team total over 1.5 goals. That's a bargain at +170 odds and an implied 37% probability.

Quillen's Pick: FC Cincinnati — Team Total Over 1.5 Goals (+170)

Charlotte FC vs. LA Galaxy Odds

Charlotte FC Odds+200
LA Galaxy Odds+125
Over/Under2.5 (-125 / -110)
Day | TimeSaturday | 7:30 p.m. ET
How To WatchFOX | fuboTV
Odds updated via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.

It’s well known (in MLS circles) that expansion teams typically lose their opening games. It's less known that Game 2 tends to be much friendlier to these sides, as do their home openers. Since 2017, such teams are 3-3-1 (W-L-D) their second games and 3-3-1 in their home debuts.

Those games include wins by teams that were ultimately typical expansion teams — i.e., bad.

Austin FC defeated Colorado, 3-1, in Week 2 last year. Inter Miami beat Orlando City in 2020. FC Cincinnati hammered the Portland Timbers in 2019.

So, there's probably something to this.

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I'd surmise the learning jump of a new team from playing one live game together is greater than the learning jump the opposition gets from having one match of game tape. Perhaps the emotion of a home opener is also more powerful of an edge than your average home match.

The Galaxy were an exactly league-average road team in 2021, and while they have plenty of stars, they're far from infallible, particularly in the back.

So, I'm more than fine playing the sentiment here with Charlotte on the money line. At +200 odds, this is an implied 33.3% probability for a recent 42.8% hit rate. I'll pass on the Draw No Bet wager, because history suggests draws aren't super likely.

If you really balk at backing Charlotte’s upstarts against Chicharito and the Los Angeles stars, I also love the total clearing 2.5 goals. The price of -125 odds implies a 55.6% probability. The total went over in five of the last seven Game 2 fixtures for expansion teams, five of the last seven expansion home openers and 12 of the Galaxy's 2021 away matches.

Quillen's Picks: Charlotte ML (+200) | Total Over 2.5 Goals (-125)

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