New England Revolution v Minnesota United
The Revolution have lost both of their opening games and are one of just two teams yet to score from open play. Perhaps this is a misleading statistic though. New England had a game postponed against Orlando, so have a game in hand on most other sides. Also, their two fixtures have been away at Colorado & Dallas, both of whom possessed two of the best home records in last season’s MLS. It’s been a difficult start but the Revs have looked competitive in both outings and on another day might easily have come away with some points. The performances of new defensive duo Delamea & Angoua have been particularly encouraging. Whilst the latter has made the odd error which has unfortunately been costly, Delamea has been impeccable so far and looks like a great addition.
The Revolution conceded far too many goals last season (54) so it’s clear during the offseason they have tried to correct this fault. With both fullbacks Chris Tierney & Andy Farrell also looking more solid then, fans have to be encouraged by how much better they look at the back. Of course, they are also aided by designated player Xavier Kouassi who had to sit out the whole of 2016 because of injury. He is still not at peak physical condition but his influence in the middle of the park has already been felt. Not a lot else has changed for the Revs but they possess strong attacking players like Kei Kamara & Lee Nguyen who are sure to fire soon. The home team have no injury, suspension or international absences this weekend.
The same can’t be said for Minnesota, who have as many as nine players ruled out. Of course, some of these absences aren’t very important but with four regular starters on international duty, including the attacking duo Kevin Molino & Johan Venegas, the visitors might be lacking threat in the final third. Minnesota have managed to score at least one goal in all of their matches so far, but this looks like an affair in which they might draw a blank in front of goal. For the most part, Minnesota have looked way out of their depth in MLS, which is understandable as a new franchise without a designated player. The biggest problem has been at the back where they look an absolute mess. I just don’t see how that suddenly changes here and this will be a difficult fixture for them.
The Asian Handicap line on New England is generally around the -1.25 mark. On initial first glance this might seem a little too big, but when you factor in everything then it might not actually be high enough. The Revs possessed the third best home record in the Eastern Conference and nobody ever enjoys travelling to Gillette Stadium. New England have a really tough match away at Portland next week so know it’s absolutely vital they get the victory here. I think there’s a good chance they’ll win to nil, so for those interested in taking over goals, then it would probably be best simply to back the New England goal line itself. My preferred pick is -1.25 Asian Handicap. Surely at very worst the Revs will win the game but I think something like 2-0, 3-0 or even greater is a realistic prospect.
Asian Handicap Recommendation: New England Revolution -1.25 Asian Handicap at 1.99
New York Red Bulls v Real Salt Lake
MLS is a league known for its patience with managers. Whereas in the likes of the EPL managers bite the dust regularly as soon as a poor run form occurs, it’s not unusual for MLS owners to stick by their head coaches for a much longer period. As an example, Chicago finished rock bottom last year yet coach Veljko Paunovic kept his job. Therefore, I think it has to be classed as a major surprise that Real Salt Lake have fired Jeff Cassar after just three games. He had been in charge for three years and his association with the club goes back nearly a decade. It’s not like RSL have had a bad time under his management either, and even made the playoffs last season. I don’t get why he has been sacked now, surely it would’ve made more sense to do it during the offseason? This is the major storyline heading into the fixture against the Red Bulls.
In charge temporarily is Daryl Shore, who was the goalkeeping coach. His tactical approach is unknown, but what is for certain is that Shore will be without several key players. Midfielder Kyle Beckerman who is often the heartbeat of the team is suspended, whilst their best attacker on the wings Joao Plata is injured. Just to make things worse, new designated player Albert Rusnak is on international duty with Slovakia along with keeper Nick Rimando who still makes many crucial saves. With other players rated doubtful or definitely injured then it’s going to be hard for RSL to get a decent result here.
The Red Bulls will be without key playmaker Sacha Kljestan but everyone else of significance should be available. Everyone knows how strong they are at home and last season Jess Marche’s men possessed superb 13-2-2 statistics at Red Bull Arena. They are unbeaten at home in 15 games, winning 13 of those contests and keeping clean sheets on nine occasions during that run. Quite simply, this is one of the big strongholds in MLS and if RSL managed to avoid defeat it would be a major shock. They lost a whopping 11 road games last season and usually travel very poorly. I actually think the recent managerial sacking will put the squad into more turmoil, at least initially and they could be all at sea here.
The Red Bulls can surprisingly be backed on a -1 Asian Handicap around the 1.85 mark. I certainly don’t expect this price to last and closer to kick off a -1.25 line is to be expected, although that would still be an acceptable line to back. I expect the Red Bulls to claim a comfortable win. Even at full strength and in a good state of mind, RSL are a long way off the Red Bull’s standard. Considering other factors I just don’t see how they get close here. The Bulls have an edge in every single department and this could get ugly if New York are in the right mood. Taking them on this -1 handicap is definitely the best way forward. If anyone is considering backing the overs in this game then it might be wiser to simply back NYRB team overs individually, because RSL probably won’t threaten to score much.
Asian Handicap Recommendation: New York Red Bulls -1 Asian Handicap at 1.87
Prices correct at time of writing.
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