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MLS Playoffs Picks & Previews: How to Bet LAFC vs. Austin FC & Philadelphia vs. NYCFC (October 30)

MLS Playoffs Picks & Previews: How to Bet LAFC vs. Austin FC & Philadelphia vs. NYCFC (October 30) article feature image
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Scott Taetsch/Getty. Pictured: Mikael Uhre.

The MLS Cup final will be set on Sunday with the the playing of both conference finals.

Things kick off out west, where Supporters’ Shield winners LAFC host an Austin FC side that have had their number.

Then in the East, the Philadelphia Union look for revenge against the NYCFC side that beat them here last year.

Here are our MLS playoffs picks & previews.

Our 2 Sunday MLS Best Bets

LAFC vs. Austin

 LAFC Odds -200
Austin Odds +460
Draw +360
Over/Under 3.5 (+100 / -130)
Day | Time Sunday | 3 p.m. ET
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Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

The first instinct here is to consider the visitors, who are sizable underdogs despite winning both regular season meetings. However, each of those games have big caveats.

Austin’s 2-1 away win in May came despite LAFC creating the sizable majority of the chances, something the Black & Gold don’t typically waste.

Then, the Verde’s 4-1 win at home in August came via a first-half ambush in which Gareth Bale and Carlos Vela started together, with the two 30-something attackers leaving their team with too little defensive cover.

I think the season overall is more informative for betting purposes than these teams’ previous meetings. The season data suggests the three-way line is about right.

But, there is value is on a market that is exaggerating the firepower of admittedly good MLS offenses, with a bet on the total under 3.5 goals at -130 odds at time of writing.

History shows that attacking reputation is slightly overstated, especially when Austin FC are away and LAFC are home.

Teams are combining for only a shade under 3.1 xG per 90 minutes when accounting for the appropriate home/away splits. The total has gone under 3.5 goals in 23 of 34 games when LAFC are home or Austin are away, a rate of 67.6%.

So, an under wager at an implied 56.5% probability is the play here. And if the price increases too much you might consider betting 2-3 goals exact or 3-4 goals exact (+130).

The home/away splits also show (slightly less) value there, and those prices have been more stable this week.

Quillen’s Pick: Total under 3.5 (-130)

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Philadelphia vs. NYCFC

Philadelphia Odds -120
NYCFC Odds +290
Draw +270
Over/Under 2.5 (-135 / -105)
Day | Time Sunday | 8 p.m. ET
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Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

This game is difficult to handicap for two reasons.

The first is the unknown of how Philly’s emotions will impact the game. The Union still feel some injustice at last year’s defeat to NYCFC in the East final, on a day they were without six starters and 11 players in all because of a COVID-19 cluster within the team.

That could lead to an excellent Union performance here, or one that is a little too amped up.

The second is NYCFC’s injury situation. The Cityzens have listed five clear starters (if fully fit) as questionable for the game: Striker Talles Magno, playmaker Maxi Moralez, midfielder Alfredo Morales, fullback Tayvon Gray and center back Maxime Chanot.

These could all be legitimate — Morales and Chanot definitely are after the former missed the East semifinals and the latter left early — or some could be playoffs gamesmanship by interim manager Nick Cushing.

If NYCFC are close to full strength, I think the money line draw has OK value, though the price has shortened. If not, it’s the kind of game Philly could win by a couple of goals.

Until we see lineups, there’s only one angle I can feel reasonably good about. That’s playing the draw on the rarely used “home no bet” market at -130 odds and an implied 56.5% probability.

If Philly win in regulation, the bet pushes. If they don’t, you’re backing a slightly worse than even chance that the game will be level, for a Union team that have drawn at home in 2022 but not yet lost.

Quillen’s Pick: Draw, Home No Bet (-130)

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