MLS Odds, Picks, Predictions: Best Bets For St. Louis SC vs Charlotte, NYCFC vs Chicago, More

MLS Odds, Picks, Predictions: Best Bets For St. Louis SC vs Charlotte, NYCFC vs Chicago, More article feature image

Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images. Pictured: Kevin O’Toole

After a wild opening weekend, MLS continues with an even busier Week 2 slate, with 14 games to be played on Saturday.

It begins when LAFC begins their title defense by welcoming the Portland Timbers to newly renamed BMO Stadium in a nationally televised tilt.

Then it continues with a pair of intriguing 8:30 p.m. ET kickoffs.

Expansion team St. Louis City will play its first-ever home match against Charlotte FC, and the Chicago Fire open their season hosting New York City FC in a meeting of teams with questions up front.

There's no sure things in MLS, of course. All four of our best bets missed last week. But there's also a lot of variance, probably more similar to the NHL than to betting on other soccer leagues.

Consider this: One NYCFC goal in Nashville would've turned a losing weekend into a winning one. Add in a goal in Miami and those best bets would've landed way in the green.

The margins are really thin, which generally means what goes around comes around. All the more reason to get to our Week 2 slate.

MLS Odds & Picks

LAFC vs. Portland

LAFC Odds-225
Portland Odds+550
Over/Under3.5 (+120/ -175)
Time4:30 p.m. ET
How To WatchFOX | Apple TV
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

LAFC are oddsmakers' preseason favorite to repeat as MLS Cup champions, but most industry insiders think it will be difficult.

A couple Western Conference opponents have improved. Also, LAFC will have to balance continental commitments they did not have a season ago.

And there are a couple of internal reasons also to be cautious. Captain Carlos Vela is slowing down at age 34.  Last year's team leading scorer, Cristian Arango, departed for Pachuca in Mexico. And Gareth Bale's retirement gives manager Steve Cherundolo one less option off the bench.

Further, on Saturday the defending champs face a team that has given them fits over the years.

And while the Timbers are significantly less healthy than LAFC right now, their most important players — Diego Chara, Eryk Williamson and new addition Evander — are available.

Portland will be extremely comfortable sitting deep and absorbing pressure. They're one of the more elite countering teams in the league, and they have one regular season game under their belts already.

So this is likely to be a tougher and lower-scoring match for LAFC than the market suggests. That makes this a good spot to play a single-game parlay.

The wager on yes on both teams to score and a total under 3.5 goals is available at +280 odds and 26.3% implied probability. It's cashed in these teams' last seven meetings.

I don't mind adding a goal to the total to be safer (+137 at FanDuel). But you'll have to craft that yourself. I haven't seen BTTS – Yes/Under 4.5 as a pre-packaged wager.

Quillen's Pick: Yes – both teams to score and under 3.5 goals, same-game parlay (+280)

St. Louis City SC vs. Charlotte

St. Louis Odds+145
Charlotte Odds+170
Over/Under2.5 (-135 / -110)
Day | Time8:30 p.m. ET
How To WatchMLS Season Pass
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Saint Louis City exceeded basically everyone's expectations with a shocking 3-2 victory at Austin FC last weekend. And now they return home to one of the most eagerly anticipated expansion team openers in recent MLS memory.

The Midwest city was once the de facto home to the U.S. national team and has always been a talent hotbed. Their new stadium is finished and will be packed to the brim.

It's hard to gauge how much more that kind of home field means than the average MLS home edge, which has translated to a hair under a 50% win percentage in recent years. (Reminder: soccer has ties.) But I think it's fair to say it has an additional impact.

I liked Charlotte to take a major step forward this season. And maybe their home 1-0 loss to New England last weekend was unlucky more than poor. But this is a tough spot for a team that is only in its second season and hasn't played in a playoff-like atmosphere yet. Which is what they'll find on Sunday.

Further, the inherent difference between home and away games appeared larger for Charlotte than league average in 2022, when they posted a 3-12-2 (W-L-D) away record. They kept a clean sheet only once away from home.

The moneyline has moved in City's direction since it opened, but I still like playing it here at +145 odds and an implied 40.8% probability.

There isn't a ton of comparable recent history with expansion teams opening at home in Week 2 against a league average-or-worse opponent. But the two times it has happened in the modern expansion era, both NYCFC and FC Cincinnati were victorious. The latter side won only six games all season.

A more conservative alternative is playing St. Louis to get a point or more and the total to exceed 1.5 goals (-120, BetMGM). Given City's commitment to the high press and Charlotte's road defensive woes, I think the market has the total slightly low here also.

Quillen's Pick: St. Louis SC ML (+145)

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Chicago vs. NYCFC

Chicago Odds+140
NYCFC Odds+175
Over/Under2.5 (-112/ -108)
Time8:30 p.m. ET
How To WatchApple TV
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

It's rare to see line movement skew toward the under in MLS, but that's happened in this intriguing Windy City fixture. And even though it's no longer available at even money or better at a couple books, it's still good value.

First, consider last year's splits. The under landed in 11 of 17 Fire home games and nine of 17 NYCFC contests. Then there's each team's roster situation.

NYCFC have lost several key attackers without obvious replacements yet, though it looks like Santiago Rodriguez will return eventually.

The Fire sold leading scorer Jhon Duran to Aston Villa this offseason. And while they signed 38-year-old Kei Kamara to help fill that void, he's no longer close to a 90-minute player.  Their other striking addition is still waiting on a work visa.

Add NYCFC's habitually slow starts — perhaps a side effect of playing the City Football Group system? — and a Soldier Field playing surface that won't yet be in spring condition, and a low total makes sense here.

I played this when the line opened at DraftKings at +100, but the price of -108 odds at FanDuel and an implied 51.8% probability is still value.

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