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MLS Odds, Picks, Predictions, Best Bets: FC Cincinnati vs. Los Angeles FC Betting Preview (April 24)

MLS Odds, Picks, Predictions, Best Bets: FC Cincinnati vs. Los Angeles FC Betting Preview (April 24) article feature image
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Shaun Clark/Getty Images. Pictured: Los Angeles Football Club star Carlos Vela.

Cincinnati vs. LAFC Odds

Cincinnati Odds +260
LAFC Odds +270
Draw -110
Over/Under 2.5 (-165 / +115)
Day | Time Sunday | 5 p.m. ET
How To Watch FS1 | fuboTV
Odds updated via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.

FC Cincinnati looks for what would probably be the most famous win in club history when it hosts Los Angeles FC on Sunday at TQL Stadium in Major League Soccer action.

Cincinnati has won only 18 times in MLS since joining the league in 2019, including just twice at home since opening its new stadium. And none of its victories have come against the caliber of foe like LAFC, which is oddsmakers’ favorite to win the 2022 MLS Supporters’ Shield.

The visitors also have a point to prove after missing the playoffs in 2021 and failing to build on their Shield-winning campaign in the 2019 season.  A third away victory of 2022 would bring them 60% of the way toward matching their total in the previous two seasons.

This is only the teams’ second meeting all time after LAFC’s 2-0 win at Banc of California Stadium back three years ago.

Cincinnati Pursuing Betting Home Results

The strangest thing about Cincinnati’s expansion woes since it began play in MLS is its home struggles in a league where home-field advantage is typically very strong.

In 2021, only one of Cincinnati’s four league wins came at TQL Stadium. In 2019 and 2020, the club won as many away as in its previous home of Nippert Stadium.

The trend is continuing so far in 2022, but qualitatively the home performances have been better than the results — a win and two defeats. In three home matches, Cincinnati has posted a +1.7 xG difference, which is slightly above the league median entering this week’s play.

The first of those losses — a 1-0 defeat to D.C. United — came on a fluky, stoppage-time penalty via an inadvertent handball.

Those details point to better days at home sooner rather than later. So does the emergence of Brandon Vazquez, who had scored five goals in a four-game stretch before Cincinnati’s scoreless draw at Atlanta United last time out.

However, Vazquez (leg) is questionable, as is center back Geoff Cameron (lower body), for the match. The latter could leave Cincinnati short on defense, with fellow center back Nick Hagglund serving a red-card suspension.

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Cherundolo Making Things Happen at LAFC

First-year manager Steve Cherundolo has only been in charge for seven matches. However, he could achieve one impressive accomplishment with a victory — taking all nine points from three trips to the Eastern Time Zone.

The Black and Gold went to Florida for their previous two games, earning a 2-0 victory at Inter Miami and a 4-2 win over Orlando City two weeks later.

And despite a loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy in its most recent derby this season, LAFC has been arguably the most dominant team in the league through the first two months of the campaign.

The franchise’s plus-10 goal differential ranks tied for first in the league, as does its total of five victories entering  this week’s slate. The club’s +6.4 xGDiff was the second highest behind Philadelphia.

Perhaps two years of managing Carlos Vela’s inconsistent availability has made this roster less reliant on the talented Mexican for offensive production.

Now that Vela is healthy and replicating something close to his 2019 MVP form, others are also flourishing. Vela leads the team with four goals and an assist, but five others have multiple goals. Seven have at least one primary assist.

The visitors could also have their issues in defense in this match.

Center back Mamadou Fall will be serving a card-accumulation suspension after picking up his fifth yellow of the season in a match against Sporting Kansas City. The defense has already been playing with Colombian standout Eddie Segura, who is still rehabbing from a torn ACL suffered last year.

Betting Analysis & Pick

The line started favoring the visitors and has moved further in their direction.

That makes sense given these teams’ recent results and track records, maybe a little less so if you look at the underlying analytics.

I’m torn between the on-field and the analytical numbers. I believe Cincinnati’s new regime of sporting director Chris Albright and manager Pat Noonan have already incrementally improved the on-field product. I’m also not sure I trust this team to earn points, even if I believe the line skews too heavily in the opponents’ favor.

So, what to do in this kind of situation? I’m backing Cincinnati to score more than 1.5 goals at +155 odds and an implied 39.2% probability.

Cincinnati has scored two or more goals in two of its three home games, plus it has generated nearly 2.0 xG per game on home soil. And LAFC has conceded two or more in two of three away contests and will be playing without its most important defender.

Two goals might not be enough for Cincinnati to wrap up all three points. It hasn’t been on five of six previous occasions since the stadium opened, but it’s an attainable total against a LAFC side that hides from no one at any time.

Pick: FC Cincinnati — Team Total Over 1.5 Goals (+155)

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