MLS Weekend Betting Preview: Favorites Attracting Heavy Public Action
Kirby Lee, USA Today Sports.
- Major League Soccer won't be taking the weekend off for the International Break, but there are only five matches on the board for Saturday and Sunday.
- We've previewed each game and broken down the betting market to find where the value lies, including Cup-favorites LAFC vs. Real Salt Lake.
We’re already through three full weeks of the 2019 MLS season and there are still five undefeated teams remaining in the East (D.C. United, Columbus, Toronto FC, New York Red Bulls and NYC FC) and three in the West (Seattle, LAFC and Houston).
In Week 3, home teams won seven of twelve matches for +0.6 units while there were just two road victors (-5.8 units) and three draws (+0.45 units).
Here’s a look at the 2019 MLS season results so far:
The two largest payouts have involved Atlanta United, and both have been draws: Atlanta United-Philadelphia draw (+375) in Week 3 and Atlanta United-FC Cincinnati draw (+530) in Week 2. The biggest upset win goes to Toronto FC (+325) at Philadelphia on the opening weekend.
Vancouver Whitecaps and San Jose Earthquakes are the only teams without a point yet this season, each losing their first three games. Vancouver’s three losses have been by a combined three goals, however, while San Jose has lost two games in a row by three goals.
The Seattle Sounders are the lone club to win their first three games of the year, but Toronto FC (2-0-0) will have a chance to do the same on Friday, March 29th against the NYC FC.
There are just five games on the board in the MLS this weekend but we’ve broken down the betting market for each to find two value plays.
(2019 MLS Record: 5-6-0, +1.45 units)
Colorado Rapids (+475) at FC Dallas (-170), Draw (+315) | O/U: 3
Saturday, 5:30 p.m. ET on UniMas
FC Dallas will look to bounce back at home after dropping their first match of the year, 1-0, to the Columbus Crew.
The Colorado Rapids had three points in their grasp before a late free-kick from Sporting KC tied the game 1-1.
For Saturday’s matchup, all of the initial line movement was toward FC Dallas, shifting the odds from -165 to -195, but there’s been considerable buyback on Colorado. The Rapids reached as high as +530 on the moneyline, but have dropped back down to +475.
There’s been public action on both sides and while I certainly lean toward FC Dallas winning outright, there’s very little value at the current price of -170.
In the totals market, a bit of sharp money has hit the under (3) to cause sportsbooks to increase the juice from -130 to -145. If the number comes down to 2.5 at any point, I’ll be looking to bet the over as these teams.
Orlando City (+640) at New York Red Bulls (-225), Draw (+380)
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+
The home team has won the last five meetings between these teams with New York Red Bulls and Orlando City alternating wins since 2016.
Surprisingly, the early action and line movement has been toward Orlando City despite getting pasted, 3-1, by the Montreal Impact last weekend.
The Red Bulls rolled over San Jose, 4-1, so I would have assumed that the public would be all over New York once again.
The market originally opened Red Bulls -250 but odds have been trimmed down to -225. Nearly one in every three wagers has come in on Orlando City to pull off the outright upset, but the +640 moneyline still wouldn’t be high enough for me to bite.
Columbus Crew (+235) at Philadelphia Union (+115), Draw (+275) | O/U: 2.5
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+
There have been zero road goals scored in the last five meetings between these squads, and the over/under of 2.5 for Saturday night is easily the lowest of the weekend.
The Philadelphia Union are off to a poor start this season and have earned just a single point through the first three matches. The Columbus Crew have yet to lose, winning twice and drawing once while conceding just a single goal along the way.
Everything points to the Crew in this one, especially with the Union missing key player Marco Fabian (suspension), yet the line has moved from +150 to +115 for Philadelphia.
I’m not buying into the “desperation mode” for the Union, especially with nearly 80% of public bets on them, so I’ll gladly take Columbus at an inflated price of +235.
Real Salt Lake (+575) at LAFC (-250), Draw (+455) | O/U: 3
Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+
LAFC are heavy home favorites but they’ve still received the majority of bets and all the early line movement thus far. After opening -160, odds are already up to -250.
Real Salt Lake are missing plenty of key players due to the International Break and were embarrassed 5-0 last weekend at D.C. United. Public bettors, sharp bettors and the entire market is in agreement that LAFC should win this one with ease, and there’s still value on LAFC -1.5 (+110).
FC Cincinnati (+385) at New England Revolution (-185), Draw (+380) | O/U: 3
Sunday, 4 p.m. ET on ESPN+
FC Cincinnati are coming off an impressive 3-0 win in their home debut against Portland, just two weeks after earning a point in the opener at Atlanta United.
Meanwhile, the New England Revolution continued their losing ways with a 3-2 loss at Toronto FC on Sunday night. A home win against an expansion team is desperately needed for the Revs, but I’m not confident it’ll happen.
Public and sharp bettors disagree, and New England’s odds have shot up to -160 from +100. With more than 80% of wagers on the home side, sportsbooks around the market will be hoping for another FC Cincinnati upset.
- LAFC -1.5 (+110) vs. Real Salt Lake
- Columbus (+235) at Philadelphia
Updated 2019 MLS Cup Odds
- LAFC and LA Galaxy are now +700 co-favorites to win the 2019 MLS Cup
- D.C. United (14-1 to 10-1) and Montreal (50-1 to 40-1) saw their odds improve the most following Week 3 victories
- New England (200-1) and San Jose (250-1) have the worst odds to win the title
Want live updates of the action all weekend? Be sure to follow @actionnetsoccer on Twitter for all the latest soccer betting news around the market.