Orlando City vs. Atlanta United Odds & Picks: How to Bet Saturday’s MLS Showdown (April 17)
Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Josef Martinez.
- After a down season, Atlanta United is poised to bounce back in its 2021 Major League Soccer campaign.
- With a new manager in Gabriel Heinze at the helm and former league MVP Josef Martinez back after an injury, Atlanta faces Orlando City to open its season.
- Ian Quillen breaks down the match below and explains which side he finds betting value on.
Orlando City vs. Atlanta United Odds
|Orlando City Odds||-107|
|Atlanta United Odds||+265|
|Day | Time||Saturday | 3 p.m. ET|
|How To Watch||fubo TV|
|Odds as of Saturday afternoon via DraftKings.|
One of the most intriguing recent rivalries in MLS resumes Saturday when Orlando City hosts Atlanta United at Exploria Stadium.
Atlanta dominated the fixture in its first three years of existence, not suffering a single defeat against Orlando City in any competition.
That changed last year, though, as first-year manager Oscar Pareja led Orlando to the postseason for the first time. In the process, the Lions took eight points of a possible 12 off an Atlanta side that endured a miserable year and let manager Frank de Boer go five games into the campaign.
Now, Atlanta is trying to restore its place among the league’s elite after winning the 2018 MLS Cup and 2019 U.S. Open Cup. Orlando aims to prove it can make the next step from playoff contender to silverware winner.
Saturday is worth only three points in the standings, but much more is at stake in terms of an early statement of intent.
Pareja made progress in his first year in Central Florida primarily with savvy, but not necessarily splashy, South American acquisitions.
However, some traditions die hard. And so 2021 begins with another 30-something Portuguese speaking star donning the purple and white, this time former Brazilian national team attacker Alexandre Pato.
Fortunately, the Lions won’t fall into the trap of earlier years in putting all the heavy creative lifting on their new star. Former Portugal and Manchester United standout Nani is still in the fold, while Chris Mueller and Tesho Akindele are also accomplished MLS-level attackers.
Nani’s minutes may be limited after a preseason injury complicated his buildup to the season, and the Lions have to make up for the loss of the dynamic Daryl Dike, who is on loan at Barnsley through the end of its season and playing his way into a summer move to a bigger European club.
New manager Gabriel Heinze arrives installing a fitness-based, high-pressure approach made famous by Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa and en vogue with many of Heinze and Bielsa’s Argentine compatriots.
And in Atlanta, that also represents a reversion toward the club’s first two seasons under another Argentine, Tata Martino. He finished his tenure with the club by winning the 2018 MLS Cup before taking charge of the Mexico national team.
On paper, Heinze’s squad is reinforced considerably from the one that sputtered in 2020. All-time leading scorer and 2018 MLS MVP Josef Martinez is back from an ACL tear that befell him in last year’s season opener. Former River Plate man Santiago Sosa is one of four new imports from the Argentine Superliga.
Atlanta is also one of five MLS squads to grab a head on match fitness in the Concacaf Champions League, securing a pair of victories over LD Alajuelense this month to advance 2-0 on aggregate.
Betting Analysis & Pick
How you bet this one may depend on whether you think last year was an aberration or a sign of bigger problems for Atlanta. I’m inclined to think it’s the former.
That’s not to say all those woes were de Boer’s fault. But the disharmony was clear and on paper Atlanta’s current roster is certainly as talented as Orlando’s.
Add two games of real competition for Heinze’s squad and Atlanta should have some momentum Orlando doesn’t. That’s not to say Orlando is overrated — this match could very well be an Eastern Conference final preview — but an advantage in match fitness could cancel out any home field edge.
The line has come down from the neighborhood of +333 odds to +250, but don’t think too much about it. If you’re more conservative, -125 for an Atlanta or draw double-chance wager is another option.
Pick: Atlanta ML (+250)
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