Sunday MLS Playoffs Odds, Pick, Prediction: New York City FC vs. Atlanta United Betting Preview

Sunday MLS Playoffs Odds, Pick, Prediction: New York City FC vs. Atlanta United Betting Preview article feature image
Credit:

Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Valentin Castellanos.

  • New York City welcomes Atlanta United to Yankee Stadium for Sunday's MLS postseason match.
  • The host side is hoping to find a way past the Five Stripes, who have been playing well of late.
  • Ian Quillen breaks down the matchup below and delivers his top selection.

NYCFC vs. Atlanta Odds

NYCFC Odds -145
Atlanta Odds +375
Draw +270
Over/Under 2.5 (-135 / -105)
Day | Time Sunday | 3 p.m. ET
How To Watch ABC | ESPN3 | fuboTV
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.

New York City FC and Atlanta United meet Sunday in the opening round of the MLS Cup Playoffs in a clash of teams trying to fulfill lofty expectations.

Host NYCFC were among the favorites to hoist the 2021 MLS Cup when the futures markets opened. However, the Cityzens never seriously challenged for the Eastern Conference regular-season crown, despite leading MLS with a +22.5 expected-goals difference.

Atlanta United weren’t as highly touted by oddsmakers. But after winning two major trophies in their first three seasons, they needed a coaching change and a second-half surge to avoid missing missing back-to-back postseasons.

New York edged the two-game regular season series, winning 1-0 at home in June and then earning a 1-1 draw in Atlanta a month ago.

NYCFC Receives Big Boost in Home Confines

The Cityzens enter on arguably their best run of form of 2021, unbeaten in five after a 1-1 draw against the Philadelphia Union on Decision Day.

And even the draw was a moral victory after NYCFC’s Gedion Zelalem was sent off on 21 minutes and Kacper Przybylko gave Philly the lead five minutes later. The 10-man hosts leveled, through MLS Golden Boot winner Valentin Castellanos, who scored his 19th and final goal eight minutes after halftime.

Pandemic-related scheduling conflicts forced NYCFC to play nearly half their home games across the Hudson River at Red Bull Arena in 2021. So,  it’s worth stressing their record at Yankee Stadium, where this one will be contested.

In the Bronx this year, NYCFC outscored opponents 25 to 4 while posting a 6-1-2 record (W-L-D) on their uniquely compact pitch. They were a more modest 4-2-2 with 12 goals scored and nine conceded at “home” in New Jersey.

The Cityzens received a crucial injury boost Friday when Ronny Deila revealed center back Alex Callens is likely to play following an injury sustained on international duty. Zelalem will serve his red card suspension, while NYCFC were also handed season-ending injuries to Keaton Parks and Anton Tinnerholm last month.

Atlanta Remains Less Than Top Notch

Atlanta are clearly better now than during a turbulent start that saw manager Gabriel Heinze pushed out after 13 games.

But following a dominant August and September, October brought back a sense that the Five Stripes are still incomplete.

They’re unbeaten with three wins in their last six games. But two of the wins came against basement finishers FC Cincinnati and Toronto FC, and the third against an Inter Miami club that also missed the playoffs.

They scored only twice in their three draws and were outplayed badly by the New York Red Bulls in the most recent one.

Ezequiel Barco and Josef Martinez have both cooled some since they combined for 14 goals between the end of July and the end of September.

Martinez leads Atlanta with 12 goals.

Marcelino Moreno is arguably Atlanta’s most consistent attacker with nine goals and five assists without the same streakiness. Yet he sometimes feels like the forgotten man behind that more demonstrative duo.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

Some have discounted Atlanta’s postseason chances, given that they’ve won only one of 15 games against playoff qualifiers.

It’s only fair, then, to hold NYCFC’s statistical dominance at Yankee Stadium up to the same light.

They only faced four playoff teams in the Bronx, including only one of their four multi-goal wins. And that 5-0 blowout of Orlando City came when the visitors’ captain, former Manchester United star Nani, did not make the trip.

The other three games were tighter than their overall numbers would lead you to believe. And the total went under 2.5 goals in all three. Atlanta’s contests have also been tighter and lower scoring away from home when playing higher-quality foes, with the total going under on five of eight occasions.

These are two offenses with a lot of talent who are both a little less than the sum of their parts. They both struggle to produce against mid- and upper-tier foes, and I’d consider each one in the mid-tier category.

That’s why I like playing the under here at even money-ish if you can get it. And you can currently find it as high as +114 — with an implied 46.7% probability — on FanDuel.

There’s also probably some value on Atlanta to at least keep the game close. However, the Yankee Stadium factor has me cautious. Consider a conservative Asian Handicap at +1 or +1.25 goals, depending on the price, but the total is more solid.

Pick: Total Under 2.5 Goals (+114)

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