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MLS Betting Odds, Picks, Preview, Predictions: Our 3 Best Bets Tied to Game Totals (Feb. 26)

MLS Betting Odds, Picks, Preview, Predictions: Our 3 Best Bets Tied to Game Totals (Feb. 26) article feature image

Diego Diaz/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Portland Timbers fans cheer at Providence Park.

Major League Soccer opens its 27th season Saturday with big slate of afternoon and early evening games, along with plenty of intrigue and storylines.

Expansion team Charlotte FC plays its inaugural game against D.C. United, the original MLS dynasty from the league’s early years.

And the Supporters’ Shield winning New England Revolution begin their season in the cauldron that is Providence Park to face the reigning Western Conference champion Portland Timbers.

Here’s three of our best bets for the first day of another fascinating season.

MLS Best Bets

D.C. United vs. Charlotte

D.C. Odds-165
Charlotte Odds+500
Over/Under2.5 (-120 / -105)
Day | TimeSaturday | 6 p.m. ET
How To WatchESPN+
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

We don’t know much about Charlotte, but we do know how expansion teams generally perform in their MLS openers. Not great.

Since the most recent wave of expansion that began in 2017, brand new teams have lost six of their last seven openers. The exception came in 2018 when Carlos Vela’s Los Angeles FC earned a 1-0 win over Seattle.

Charlotte doesn’t have anyone the caliber of Vela, whose 2019 season is arguably the greatest offensive campaign in league history.

And while D.C. aren’t the most formidable foe, they were darn good at home in 2021, earning the fourth-most home points in the Eastern Conference despite finishing outside the playoff field overall.

The total has stayed under 3.5 goals in four of the last six losses by expansion sides, and cleared 2.5 goals in four of the same six outings. 

The price is better on a Single Game Parlay coming D.C. United on the moneyline with the total going over 2.5 goals at +140 odds, with an implied 41.7% probability. That’s cheap considering D.C. and its opponents averaged 2.88 expected goalsper match in 17 games at Audi Field.

Quillen’s Pick: Single Game Parlay — D.C. United ML & Total Over 2.5 Goals (+140)

San Jose vs. RRBNY

San Jose Odds+150
New York Odds+160
Over/Under2.5 (+104 / -128)
Day | TimeSaturday | 6 p.m. ET
How To WatchESPN+
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

The Red Bulls reached the 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs on the strength of a late charge that saw them lose only once in 12 games despite scoring multiple goals only twice.

That caginess obscures that RBNY also had some of the most profound home-away splits over the full season. Only three of New York’s 17 home matches went above 2.5 total goals, whereas it occurred nine times away. That’s likely the result of RBNY’s high press, which teams often challenge more aggressively when playing at home.

The Quakes have their own equally frenetic, man-marking style, but it seems to differ less by venue. Eight of their 17 home matches went above the total.

In total, exactly 50% of New York away games and San Jose home games went past 2.5 goals. However, here’s the thing: that occurred despite a season when those teams combined to score and allow 19 fewer goals than xG predicted.

Twin regressions could be in store in 2022, which makes me bullish on playing the over here at even odds or better, and at 50% implied probability or lower.

Quillen’s Pick: Total Over 2.5 Goals (+104)

Portland vs. New England

Portland Odds+150
New England Odds+180
Over/Under2.5 (-145 / +115)
Day | TimeSaturday | 7:30 p.m. ET
How To WatchFOX | fuboTV
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Portland’s Providence Park was an absolute fortress in 2021, with the Timbers playing their way to MLS Cup.

Perhaps that raucous atmosphere — unrivaled almost anywhere in the league — led to games there becoming a little unhinged.

Teams combined to create a total of 59.9 xG over those 17 home Portland matches or 3.52 combined xG per match. The total cleared 2.5 goals 12 times and surpassed 3.5 goals on five occasions.

Meanwhile, manager Bruce Arena’s Revolution never bought into the trope of playing conservatively on the road. It paid off in the term of a Supporters’ Shield triumph and MLS points record for New England, and some thoroughly entertaining matches for the rest of us.

In the Revs’ away games, teams combined to create 52.2 xG or 3.07 per match. The total went over 2.5 goals on 11 occasions, as well as past 3.5 goals an amazing nine times.

The best value here — if your book has it — is to play an Asian Handicap total cleaning 3.0 goals. At +115 odds and an implied 46.5% probability, it hit in 14 games, pushed in nine and missed in 11 when you factor home/away splits for both clubs. That’s a 56% hit rate if you weed out the pushes.

You could also be more aggressive and play over 3.5 goals, which has hit 14 of 34 times, a 41.2% rate. You can find it at a couple books in the neighborhood of +175 odds and an implied 36.4% probability.

Quillen’s Pick: Total Over 3 Goals (+115)

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