Austin FC vs. Columbus Crew Odds, Picks, Predictions: Sunday MLS Betting Preview (June 27)
Garry Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Oscar winner and Austin FC co-owner Matthew McConaughey gets the crowd going before the club’s stadium opener.
- Expansion side Austin FC welcomes Columbus to its new stadium Sunday for its Major League Soccer showdown.
- The host side, which just opened Q2 Stadium after playing its first eight games on the road, has struggled on offense.
- Ian Quillen breaks down the match below and explains why he's backing underdog Columbus to get the road victory.
Austin FC vs. Columbus Odds
|Austin FC Odds||+148|
|Over/Under||2.5 (-105 / -125)|
|Day | Time||Sunday | 8 p.m. ET|
|TV||Fox Sports 1|
|Odds updated Saturday evening via DraftKings.|
What could be one of the more unique Major League Soccer rivalries begins Sunday when Austin FC welcomes the Columbus Crew to Texas for what some are calling the “Anthony Precourt Derby.”
Precourt is the Austin FC founder, majority owner and chief executive officer. He previously owned the Columbus Crew, which threatened to move to Austin without a deal for a new downtown stadium.
Eventually Columbus got the stadium, which is set to open next weekend. However, it happened only after a fan-led movement to save the club resulted in its sale to a group led by the Haslam family, which also owns the Cleveland Browns.
The deal was approved on the condition Precourt was granted MLS expansion rights in the Texas capital, which became Austin FC. Now, the club welcomes Columbus to town, as it looks for its first home win in franchise history.
Expansion Outfit Austin FC Off to Respectable Start
The league’s newest club performed admirably in its opening eight road games to start its inaugural campaign, earning a point per match before it returned to begin life at its new home in Q2 Stadium.
However, concerns about manager Josh Wolff’s offense might be growing after scoring only once in six matches. That included a scoreless draw to open Q2 last Saturday against a San Jose side gifting goals to nearly everyone else.
Striker Danny Hoesen’s hip injury is likely part of the reason for the struggle. The Dutchman might have failed to score despite generating 1.4 expected goals over five games before an injury from May 23 sidelined him.
Yet, he’s Austin’s only starting-caliber center forward. Even if he’s not scoring, his hold-up play creates space for Cecilio Dominguez, Diego Fagundez and others behind him.
More recently it’s the defense battling the injury bug. Fullback Nick Lima is out after sustaining a hamstring injury early in Wednesday’s 2-0 loss at Minnesota. It was Austin’s second loss at that on the defensive side of things after Ben Sweat tore his ACL in April.
And for this match, center backs Matt Besler (right foot) and Alex Ring (right ankle) are listed as questionable.
Columbus Struggling to Generate Quality Chances
The early reports of the Crew’s demise were inaccurate, but they’re still confusing to evaluate.
The defending MLS Cup champions had won three in a row before a 1-0 defeat at Philadelphia. However, they just aren’t creating that many chances. Their 6.35 xG created on offense ranks them last in MLS, according to American Soccer Analysis.
Yet, league insiders still generally rate the Crew among the league’s top third of clubs at least.
Winning MLS Cup earns you that, but it’s also the eye test. Columbus is in every game it plays and generally makes more match-winning plays than its opponents.
It’s possible there’s something about how the Crew play that doesn’t show up in xG models. Their goal difference is 3.87 goals better than xG would predict through nine games. Columbus is actually outperforming its xG at a slightly slower rate than last season, when its regular-season goal difference exceeded xG by 13.41 goals in 23 games.
There might also be some strength of schedule issues. Six of the Crew’s nine previous opponents were teams who sat above the playoff line in the Eastern Conference. Their other three? Eighth-place Montreal, which is tied on points with D.C. United, and an underperforming but undeniably talented Toronto FC roster Columbus has already faced twice.
On the injury front, manager Caleb Porter could see midfielders Perry Kitchen (thigh) and Luis Diaz (knee) return after missing games. Both are listed as questionable.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Columbus makes up for lack of flash with tactical savvy, which is not great news for an Austin side that could be extra vulnerable defensively.
And the Crew’s ball-possessing wizard Darlington Nagbe might be extra valuable in these circumstances, where both teams are playing a third time in nine days. Bottom line: the more you keep the ball, the less you chase it.
Then there’s the context of this fixture that could be rocket fuel for Columbus and awkward for Austin. No one with Los Verdes aside from Precourt had anything to do with the Crew’s near-move. Yet, many Crew players past and present remember, as does manager Porter, who has deep ties in Ohio. This is an interconference match, but one Columbus won’t dare overlook.
Probably, the wrong team is favored and I’m not sure quite how oddsmakers arrived here. Maybe it’s the wonky xG totals. Maybe it’s Austin’s high profile for an expansion side and the relative low profile of the Crew for an MLS Cup champion.
Either way, Columbus is a solid play for me at anything north of +150 odds. At +185 and an implied probability of 35.1%, they’re also an easy one as well.
Pick: Columbus ML (+185)