MLS Odds, Pick, Preview & Best Bets: Charlotte FC vs. Atlanta United Betting Preview (April 10)
Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images. Pictured: Charlotte FC
- Expansion side Charlotte FC hosts Atlanta United in Sunday's Major League Soccer showdown.
- The fresh faces are off to a solid start, giving analyst Ian Quillen reason to back them to get a result against The Five Stripes.
- Check out below why he's backing Charlotte to triumph.
Charlotte vs. Atlanta Odds
|Over/Under||2.5 (-125 / -110)|
|Day | Time||Sunday | 1:30 p.m. ET|
|How To Watch||ESPN | fuboTV|
|Odds updated via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.|
Expansion outfit Charlotte FC looks to avenge its most frustrating loss of the season when it welcomes Atlanta United to Bank of America Stadium.
Atlanta won the teams’ inaugural meeting last month, 2-1. But it required some good fortune in the form of an early second-half penalty and a deflected, stoppage-time winner game winner from Jake Mulraney.
That started a three-match unbeaten run for Atlanta, including last Saturday’s 1-0 win at D.C. United through another stoppage-time winner via Marcelino Moreno.
Charlotte responded to the loss in Atlanta with its first two MLS wins in club history. But it suffered a largely expected 2-0 defeat at the Philadelphia Union last weekend.
Positive Signs From Expansion Side Charlotte
Major League Soccer’s 28th team has drawn a lot of criticism for taking the road less traveled in building their first MLS roster.
But for an expansion side, their start is totally respectable, with six points from six matches. Maybe more importantly when trying to build a following, they’ve won two of their first three at home.
Here’s where you might interject: Charlotte has trailed their opponents’ xG in all six of their matches. Their -4.8 xG differential is the worst in the Eastern Conference and second-worst in the league.
But a closer look at how they arrived at that total suggests it’s also not so bad. For starters, Charlotte has conceded two penalties and received none. That ratio won’t continue infinitely. So going forward, their -3.3 non-penalty xG differential might be a better measure for future expectations.
And in their two wins, Charlotte spent 168 out of 180 minutes holding a lead. Protecting a lead can lead to deceptive xG totals, as one team prioritizes not conceding high-quality opportunities and the other prioritizes finding an equalizer.
In their four losses, Charlotte has trailed for just 159 minutes of 360. More than half of those came in last week’s 2-0 loss at the Philadelphia Union, who are notorious for their ability to limit opposition chances.
And for all their critics, Charlotte has gotten two signings very right. Polish international Karol Swiderski has four goals in five starts since signing a Designated Player contract to become their top striker. Winger Ben Bender has a goal and three assists since he was taken first overall in the 2022 MLS SuperDraft.
Atlanta Looking to Recapture Magic
There are hints manager Gonzalo Pineda may be on his way to returning this club to its heights of 2018 and 2019, when it won an MLS Cup, a U.S. Open Cup and a Campeones Cup title.
Moreno’s stoppage-time winner at D.C. was a third-consecutive goal in second-half stoppage time to suggest the magic is back. Mulraney’s late winner against Charlotte in Week 3 preceded Brooks Lennon’s leveler in a 3-3, Week 4 home draw to CF Montreal.
Beneath that magical feeling, there are reasons to doubt this form is sustainable without significant improvement in the earlier phases of games.
Pineda’s men were badly outplayed in their 3-0 loss to Colorado and their draw against Miami, trailing by a combined 1.6 to 4.1 in xG in those fixtures. They played Charlotte even both by the eye test and by non-penalty xG, 0.9 to 0.9, in a game at home.
Now the first-year head coach is dealing with a pair of brutal injuries.
Club all-time leading scorer Josef Martinez is out 6-8 weeks after a knee scope. The Venezuelan international still hasn’t approached his 2017-2019 form, but he’s Atlanta’s top scorer with two goals and two assists. His 0.89 goals-plus-assists per 90 minutes is second among Atlanta players to play more than 100 minutes behind Moreno.
Veteran holding midfielder Osvaldo Alonso is likely done for the year after suffering an ACL tear in the loss to D.C. The plan may not have been to start the 36-year-old veteran in his 14th MLS season for every game. But his loss puts more strain on Atlanta’s back line and 20-year-old, like-for-like replacement Franco Ibarra.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Maybe the raw xG totals suggest Atlanta should be a slight favorite in league where home teams win nearly half the time. That’s where the three-way line started.
I come to the opposite conclusion, that Charlotte should be given the slight edge. And perhaps bettors are feeling the same, as the three-way line is now a virtual dead-heat.
Part of it is how Charlotte has accrued their xG numbers. Part of it is the eye test based on these teams’ first meeting in Atlanta. Part of it is the home side clearly have the more in-form striker. And part — but definitely not all — of it is Atlanta’s key injuries.
For me there’s value on the home side at anything above +150 and a 40% implied probability of victory. I’m playing them as a very slight dog at +165 odds at BetMGM, though other books have seen Charlotte slide to a slight favorite.
If the line movement spooks you, the other wager you might consider is a single-game parlay of a double-chance wager on “Charlotte or Atlanta” and the total over 1.5 goals. (This OK in the neighborhood of -145 on FanDuel at time of writing.)
That bet has hit on nine of 11 games this season between these two teams. And I don’t see much value on the draw given how each club views itself: Charlotte as a side that desperately wants a “statement” result against its biggest rival, and Atlanta as a team determined to prove it is a title contender.
Neither seem particularly likely to purposefully settle for a point if three may be on the table.
Pick: Charlotte ML (+165)