MLS Betting Odds & Pick for Saturday’s Los Angeles FC vs. Austin Matchup (April 17)

MLS Betting Odds & Pick for Saturday’s Los Angeles FC vs. Austin Matchup (April 17) article feature image
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Shaun Clark/Getty Images. Pictured: Los Angeles Football Club star Carlos Vela.

  • Major League Soccer continues its opening weekend of matches, with Los Angeles Football Club hosting expansion side Austin.
  • Oddsmakers have tabbed Carlos Vela and LAFC as MLS Cup favorites entering this season.
  • Ian Quillen details why he's expecting LAFC to roll to the victory.

LAFC vs. Austin Odds

LAFC Odds -225
Austin Odds +350
Draw +575
Over/Under 3.5 (+118 / -152)
Day | Time Saturday | 6 p.m. ET
TV FOX
Odds as of Saturday afternoon via DraftKings.

The early MLS Cup betting favorite takes on the league’s newest club when Los Angeles Football Club welcomes Austin to Banc of California Stadium in Saturday’s opening match for both clubs.

Like last year, LAFC open the season again as the betting favorite even though it has yet to win the league’s most prestigious honor. It simply never quite came together during the 2020 campaign. The major culprits were injuries and COVID-19 concerns that limited star Carlos Vela to only seven appearances.

Meanwhile, Austin becomes the 27th active team in the league and the first major professional sports team in the Texas capital. However, there is a Lone Star State-sized bucket of unknowns with this club, beginning with Josh Wolff making his managerial debut.

Needless to say, it would be one of the more memorable opening-weekend results in history if the visitors pulled off the upset.

LAFC

You rarely see an MLS team fall so short of expectation and then make as few changes as LAFC did this offseason. The circumstances justify staying the course, though.

For starters, the now 32-year-old Vela played less than a third of the regular season in 2020, which came a year after posting the single greatest offensive season in league history.

And Los Angeles made up for some of its league disappointment with a run to the CONCACAF Champions League final in December. There was no shame in their 2-1 loss in the final to Liga MX stalwart Tigres UANL, which went on to put a scare into Bayern Munich in the FIFA Club World Cup final.

The question is how much longer manager Bob Bradley can keep this group in tact. Diego Rossi will keep drawing European interest if he replicates his 2020 MLS Golden Boot heroics, and center back Eddie Segura could find himself in that camp as well with another strong year.

Austin

Hollywood star Matthew McConaughey has been promoting the heck out of Austin FC as the club’s part owner and minister of culture, because … well … who else would?

There’s aren’t many recognizable faces on the squad for casual soccer fans. Even Designated Player/striker Cecilio Dominguez is only a known commodity in his native Paraguay, despite decent but unremarkable stops at Club America in Mexico and Independiente in Argentina.

That’s not a shot at sporting director Claudio Reyna, the father of Dortmund rising star and American international Giovanni Reyna, who’s a former U.S. Men’s National Team star in his own right.

There’s value in building a foundation of MLS veterans and adding the sexier parts of a contender later. That’s especially true when you’re going to begin the year doing a lot of defending in seven consecutive away matches prior to a July home opener.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

The price at -230 odds for an LAFC win — up from the neighborhood of -175 earlier this week — is about lowest you’ll see for an MLS favorite, but it’s justified.

Building a club from scratch is hard. Of the nine most recent expansion teams, only one — LAFC — won its opener. The only other two to take a point did so against each other when Orlando and NYCFC drew in 2015. That’s without allowing for the difficulty of opening on the road against the MLS Cup favorite.

A -230 price implies a 70% probability of an LAFC win. At worst, that’s accurate. Given the circumstances, it’s probably a little low.

You might also consider the under in this match. There were three goals or fewer in LAFC’s previous three openers. Austin might also consider a close loss a moral victory on debut, meaning less motivation to send numbers forward if it falls behind. I’m more confident on the moneyline, though.

Pick: LAFC ML (-230)

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