MLS Odds, Playoffs Picks & Previews: How to Bet Philadelphia vs Cincinnati & LAFC vs. LA Galaxy (October 20)
Pictured: Gaston Brugman. (Photo by Shaun Clark/Getty Images)
The MLS conference semifinals begin Thursday night with two huge games.
First, Philadelphia Union, the Eastern Conference's top seed, faces No. 5 seed FC Cincinnati, a team constructed in the Union's image.
Then, Wales international and former Real Madrid star Gareth Bale leads LAFC against Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and the LA Galaxy in a West semifinal.
LAFC and Union are the favorite and second favorite in the MLS Cup futures market, but history tells us the MLS postseason is unpredictable.
Here are our best bets for the Thursday night slate.
Our 2 Thursday MLS Best Bets
Philadelphia vs. Cincinnati
|Day | Time||Thursday | 8 p.m. ET|
|How To Watch||FS1|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.|
The Philadelphia Union have been crushing opponents at home and it's easy to get caught up in the historic numbers.
The Union's +46 goal differential is the second-best in MLS history behind only 2019 LAFC and their 26 goals conceded are an MLS record in a 34-game season.
However, the second half of Philadelphia's home schedule — in which they've won nine in a row — was unusually soft, with only one of those nine opponents reaching the playoffs. And that was an Orlando team that conceded four or more goals on five occasions this year.
No opponent is more familiar with how Philadelphia operates tactically than FC Cincinnati as coach Pat Noonan and sporting director Chris Albright were both hired from the Union last year.
Cincinnati has performed well in its two games against Philadelphia, earning a 1-1 road draw and a 3-1 home victory.
Although the analytics suggest Philadelphia should be more heavily favored and maybe even worth a play to win by multiple goals, I'd abstain.
However, the Union's excellent defensive home record worth noting. They've never conceded more than once in a home game this season and whether they concede at all typically corresponds with quality of opponent. Playoff qualifiers scored six goals in seven games at Subaru Park and those that didn't reach the playoffs scored three times in 10 games.
I'm backing the visitors to find exactly one goal during the 90 minutes of regulation at +145 odds and an implied 40.8% probability.
Cincinnati's trio of Luciano Acosta, Brandon Vazquez and Brenner is good enough to solve the Union at least once and force the home side to work hard to advance.
Quillen's Pick: FC Cincinnati 1 goal exact (+145)
LAFC vs. LA Galaxy
|LA Galaxy Odds||+340|
|Day | Time||Thursday | 10 p.m. ET|
|How To Watch||FS1|
|Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.|
LAFC has been elite at home and won 13 of 17 games.
But their (relatively) low price here — implying less than a 60% chance of a 90-minute win — is reflective of a couple things.
For starters, a major element in the sizable home-field advantage MLS teams enjoy is travel. That disappears when facing a crosstown rival.
Then there's a Galaxy team whose late-season improvement appears to be for real.
The acquisition of wayward Barcelona prospect Riqui Puig was certainly a risk, but he's acquitted himself very well as the team's central playmaker. Add in Gaston Brugman, another summer signing, and the Galaxy have converted a once-weak central midfield into a strength. In the process, they've lost only once in their past 11 games.
Lastly, there's the psychology of this rivalry, in which LAFC has, at times, struggled to match their elder rivals. When they do win, it's typically by simply outscoring them.
That's a trend I'm backing here, playing the LA Galaxy to score at least twice at +165 odds and an implied 37.7% probability.
The Galaxy have scored at least twice in all three games against LAFC this season. They've also done the same in all but one of their seven trips to Banc of California stadium during MLS regular season and playoff competition.
Quillen's Pick: LA Galaxy over 1.5 total team goals (+165)