Philadelphia Union v Atlanta United
Atlanta United suffered a rare loss in midweek, their first in seven games when they went down 2-3 against Dallas. The runaway Eastern Conference leaders even led with 5 mins left, but were hit hard by a couple of late Dallas goals. Ultimately though, the defeat shouldn’t matter too much. It wasn’t even facing a side from their own Conference, of which they are in strong control of, even if the likes of the Red Bulls and NYCFC do have games in hand. Atlanta are the highest scoring team in MLS and possess bucket loads of attacking quality which can’t be ignored. It won’t be ideal that they have to play on the road twice in the space of 4 days though.
A trip to Philadelphia can’t be underestimated. The Union are probably a better team than their league position might suggest. Too many times they have failed to convert dominance and chances into goals and victories. However, when they do fire on all cylinders Philly are quite hard to stop this season. They head into this game on the back of a full week of rest, but have lost a few of their recent fixtures. Here at home Jim Curtin’s men have won 3 of their last 4 though, scoring 11 goals in the process
This will just be the second time that Atlanta travels to the Talen Energy Stadium. Their first visit was back in 2017 and it ended a 2-2 draw. These two sides have only met three times in MLS history, and on each occasion, there has been at least 3 goals. I see the same thing happening again here and the potential for goals is high. Atlanta does have a tendency to have lower scoring away games, but on the back of a short week with consecutive away games I expect their backline to be physically tested by the dynamic Philly forwards. At the other end United do carry plenty of attacking firepower themselves, so over 3 goals is the obvious pick. I was mightily tempted by also backing Philly on a DNB or -0.25 Asian Handicap. But they cock up too many games for my liking so I’ll resist them.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 3.00 goals at 1.952
New York City FC v New York Red Bulls
The big clash on Sunday night sees the two Big Apple clubs lock horns for the third time this season. Amazingly, in each of the previous two encounters, the Red Bulls have won 4-0 this year, albeit on both occasions those games were played at their own stadium. This weekend Yankee Stadium is the venue and new coach Dome Torrent will get his first taste of this particular derby for NYC. He has won one and lost one match since taking over from Patrick Vieira but he can’t afford an easy bedding in period because NYC are fighting hard for honours this season and currently find themselves third in the Eastern Conference. With games in hand on Atlanta United, top spot in this division or even the Supporters Shield can still be a realistic target.
The Red Bulls have however been imperious this season and have only lost 1 of their last 10 games. They are second in the Conference and have loads of games in hand on Atlanta United, so in theory, could be leading this division by 3-4 points if they were to win those extra fixtures. I have liked the look of this team right since the early stages of the campaign when they were impressive in the NACL. Some people might say they’ve peaked ‘too early’ but right now Jesse Marsch’s men show no signs of slowing down. They must surely be buoyed by the face they’ve hammered NYC twice already this season, and in general have the better record since this rivalry started back in 2016. The first time they ever visited Yankee Stadium they won 7-0 so do have some happy memories of the place. I would say at the moment they have significantly more momentum heading into the clash than their rivals do.
David Villa is missing for NYC with an injury. This bad news for them, not just in terms of goals, but also because he is the heartbeat of the side and they sometimes appear lost without him. That said, the likes of Jo Inge Berget have stepped up in his absence recently so maybe it might make them come together more as a team and try harder. I’m not sure who will win this game. If I had to favour anyone, then it’d be the Red Bulls and they do look a decent price in all truth. Anyone considering backing NYC close to the evens mark on a -0.5 Asian Handicap would have to be quite brave. The pick I like is over 3 goals. This fixture is usually quite pulsating, end to end, and any historic under match has always contained a couple of goals. Even without David Villa, at least 3 goals are still likely to be scored and probably a few more than that, so I’m happy to side with this over line.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 3.00 goals at 1.870
Preview by: @meatmansoccer.