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MLS Odds, Picks, Predictions & Best Bets: Nashville vs. Atlanta United Betting Preview (May 21)

MLS Odds, Picks, Predictions & Best Bets: Nashville vs. Atlanta United Betting Preview (May 21) article feature image
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David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Atlanta United standout Josef Martinez.

Nashville vs. Atlanta Odds

Nashville Odds +105
Atlanta Odds +260
Draw +220
Over/Under 2.5 (+120 / -165)
Day | Time Saturday | 7:30 p.m. ET
How To Watch FOX | fuboTV
Odds updated via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.

Nashville SC looks to continue its unbeaten start to life at GEODIS Park on Saturday when it hosts Atlanta United in a nationally televised clash.

Nashville has taken seven points from nine contests on home soil in MLS action since opening its grand, new venue on the first of May. Most recently, Alex Muyl and Hany Mukhtar scored in a 2-1 home victory on Wednesday that halted Montreal’s nine-match winning streak.

Atlanta United has had a full week of rest following a 2-2 draw at home against the New England Revolution last Sunday that came via goals from Thiago Almada and Luiz Araujo. The Five Stripes’ attack finally looks to be coming together with eight goals in their last four games.

Atlanta also becomes the first visiting team to play twice at Nashville’s new park after losing 3-2 in extra time in a U.S. Open Cup fourth-round clash earlier this month.

Nashville Doing Damage in Road Matches

The Coyotes had as strong of a start to their season as could be expected for a team that played its first eight league fixtures on the road.

Manager Gary Smith’s men took 11 points on their travels while waiting to open their new home. And they’ve mostly made good on the promise of using their homecoming to climb up the Western Conference standings.

Yet, there’s a sense Nashville could make life a bit easier on itself. The club is lagging its 15.0 expected goals produced with only 13 goals scored. And so far, the Coyotes haven’t shown the ability to put inferior opponents away like they did at times last campaign.

They have yet to score more than twice through 12 league matches after achieving that feat seven times in 2021 while finishing third in the Eastern Conference. Some of that can be attributed to a modest decline from Mukhtar, who has only three goals and two primary assists. A season ago, he was the runner-up in MVP voting with 16 goals and 10 primary helpers.

While 20 MLS teams played Wednesday, Nashville is only one of three playing again three days later. The remaining 17 clubs are scheduled to return to MLS action on Sunday’s loaded slate.

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Defensive Woes Still Haunting Atlanta

For all the focus on all-time leading scorer Josef Martinez’s injury status, it’s Atlanta’s defensive injury absences that appear to be doing more harm.

In order, manager Gonzalo Pineda has lost holding midfielder Osvaldo Alonso (ACL), goalkeeper Brad Guzan (Achilles) and center back Miles Robinson (Achilles) presumably for the season.

While Atlanta have scored eight in their last four matches, they’ve also conceded seven while taking only four points.

Anecdotally, in Sunday’s draw with New England, leading scorer Adam Buksa found himself somewhat surprisingly open on both goals for the Revolution. That’s a mistake you could imagine happening once with a healthy Robinson and Alonso, but not twice.

Martinez (knee) has been upgraded to questionable ahead of this clash, and after about six weeks out perhaps his return off the bench could improve his team’s end product.

Atlanta have been created 11.8 xG in their last five fixtures. The side is also lagging that total with only eight goals scored.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

Oddsmakers (and probably bettors) are really buying the narrative of Nashville as the league’s uber-conservative club. And when you look at a season where neither it nor its foes have scored more than twice in a game, it makes sense.

However, analytics and context would suggest the line is pointing too severely toward a low total in this contest.

For starters, a Nashville squad with more or less the same roster saw the total exceed two goals on eight occasions in 17 home games in the 2021 regular season. Their 2022 matches are actually averaging 2.41 combined xG per 90 minutes. The totals at home are lower, but they include games against a Philadelphia offense in a slump and a Real Salt Lake side that hasn’t scored away in the league since March.

Atlanta is a more difficult proposition going forward and maybe an easier one defending. The fact it should have the energy advantage might also allow it to dictate terms a little bit. And the club’s absences in the spine of its defense might also play well into the Coyotes’ direct countering style.

I’m not saying we see an avalanche of goals, but I believe Nashville’s staunch reputation — particularly at home — is exaggerated. And that makes backing at least three goals scored in this encounter good value at +120 odds and an implied 45.5% probability.

For what it’s worth, that trend has hit in all four previous meetings between these teams in Tennessee — three in MLS play and once in the Open Cup.

Pick: Total Over 2.5 Goals (+120)

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