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MLS Odds, Picks, Prediction: LA Galaxy vs. New York City FC Betting Preview (Feb. 27)

MLS Odds, Picks, Prediction: LA Galaxy vs. New York City FC Betting Preview (Feb. 27) article feature image

Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Valentin Castellanos.

  • New York City FC starts its MLS Cup title defense Sunday with an intriguing showdown with the Los Angeles Galaxy.
  • The Galaxy are the slightest of moneyline favorites, but reigning Golden Boot winner Javier Castellanos is back to lead the Cityzens' line.
  • Ian Quillen breaks down the game below and details why he expects both sides to find the back of the net.

LA Galaxy vs. NYCFC Odds

LA Galaxy Odds+155
NYCFC Odds+175
Over/Under2.5 (-130 / +105)
Day | TimeSunday | 5 p.m. ET
How To WatchESPN | fuboTV
Odds updated via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.

New York City FC and its MLS Cup title defense begins Sunday when it visits Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and the Los Angeles Galaxy.

It’s been less than three full months since NYCFC hoisted their first MLS Cup after defeating the Portland Timbers on penalties last December. However, the Cityzens have already shaken off the rust with a successful Round of 16 CONCACAF Champions League series against Costa Rican side Santos de Guapiles.

The Galaxy have failed to reach the playoffs in the two seasons since the arrival of Chicharito, Mexico’s all-time leading international scorer. But they came within a standings tiebreak in 2021 as Chicharito found his footing and scored 17 goals.

Past history won’t be much of a factor. These sides last met in a 2-0 NYCFC win at the Galaxy on May 11, 2019, when both rosters looked pretty dang different.

LA Galaxy Bolster Attack Around Chicharito

Now age 33, Chicharito proved in 2021 he can still score at a high rate in MLS when he’s on the field. But he needs to be on the field.

That probably means buying him some games and minutes off, no matter how healthy he stays. Although he’s averaging 0.69 goals per 90 minutes in MLS, he’s been limited to only 33 appearances across those two seasons.

The Galaxy’s personnel project in the last year has reflected that, with addition of Dejan Joveljic as a second talented No. 9 last summer and sustained investment in attack-minded wingers. The latter are crucial to Chicharito’s strength as a poacher more than a chance creator.

However, the recent addition of Brazilian wide man Douglas Costa is the first who can rival Chicharito’s pedigree.

While he sputtered in his most recent club stop at Gremio, Costa is less than two years removed from regular playing time for Bayern Munich and Juventus. He combined to win six league titles at those two storied European giants.

Unlike some clubs making late additions, the Galaxy list no potential visa issues on their Week 1 availability list. Their only injury of note is veteran midfielder Victor Vazquez, who is questionable with a leg issue.

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Little Rest for Reigning Champion NYCFC

The Cityzens got very little rest after their MLS Cup victory, launching into continental play in the 2022 CONCACAF Champions League earlier this month.

Valentin Castellanos scored two goals in Leg 1, and Talles Magno added his own brace in Leg 2 of a 6-0 aggregate triumph over Santos.

Because NYCFC’s home pitch is not approved by CONCACAF, they played the second leg at LAFC’s Banc of California Stadium. That should ease some of the travel burden that usually faces MLS teams competing in continental play.

It’s a little surprising Castellanos is still with NYCFC after winning the 2021 MLS Golden Boot with 19 goals and eight assists.

Yet, although the right move to Europe did not materialize, the 23-year-old appears unfazed so far in familiar surroundings. He has 12 shots and six efforts on target across 179 minutes of continental action.

Manager Ronny Deila’s group appear to have come through the CONCACAF Round of 16 series unharmed. Anton Tinnerholm’s Achilles injury from last season is the only entry on the club’s availability report.

Betting Analysis & Pick

The common early-league struggles of MLS teams playing in CONCACAF is well documented. And in a league where 48% of home teams won in 2021, the Galaxy were an average home side and NYCFC pretty average away.

Both of these would point to playing to a Galaxy home victory here. I’m not, for a couple reasons.

The first is the expected numbers suggest Los Angeles was as much lucky as average at home in 2021, and that NYCFC were unlucky away. The Galaxy home xG difference (+2.1) and NYCFC away difference (+1.8) were virtually identical.

Secondly, while NYCFC have been playing Champions League games, their level of domination of the ball in those should mean less fatigue on the back side. Not to mention staying in Southern California after the second leg.

I think there’s better value here playing both teams to score without a draw at +140 odds, more so than just playing over the total.

These teams are both above average offensively — and below average defensively — when it comes to the relevant home/road splits. New York City FC kept two clean sheets away in 2021, and the Galaxy only three at home.

Across the 34-game sample of relevant splits, both teams scored in 16 matches that didn’t end tied. That’s a rate of 47.1%, a solid chunk above the 41.7% implied probability of the bet.

Pick: Both Teams to Score — No Draw (+145)

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