Houston Dynamo v LA Galaxy
The last regular season match for both teams in 2019 was this exact same fixture. Back in October Houston beat LA Galaxy 4-2 in what was a wild encounter. Something similar should be expected again because both sides contain an abundance of attacking quality within their squads. Houston acquired Darwin Quintero from Minnesota United in what was a big off season move. The Colombian has a proven track record in this league and adds to what is already an impressive roster in the final third. The Dynamo have striker Mauro Manotas to lead their line and he is one of the best marksman in MLS. It’s probably a surprise he’s not been sold, likewise with star winger Alberth Elis. The Honduran international can be a frustrating figure and the general consensus is that he should probably score and create even more goals than he does. Houston also have the likes of Christian Ramirez to score them goals and he looked like a great signing from LAFC last season.
Travelling to Texas this weekend are an LA Galaxy side who are one of the favourites for the MLS Cup. But they head into the campaign without star man Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who after two years in MLS decided it was time to move on. The Swede had a sensational record at Galaxy, scoring 52 goals in 56 games which is ridiculously good! Obviously, losing him is a major blow but LA softened it somewhat by adding Javier Hernandez as a replacement. It will be interesting to see how ‘Chicharito’ gets on stateside. It has been a few years since he was last majorly prolific. Galaxy are counting on him to score them at least 20 goals in 2020. The supply line is certainly there. Cristian Pavon is top class and new signings Aleksander Katai and Sacha Kljestan should provide plenty of assists. Key defensive midfielder Jonathan Dos Santos is rated questionable for the visitors for this trip due to a combination injury and lack of match fitness.
My big concern with both teams is defensively. The Galaxy offer more solidity in this department but often find themselves conceding too many. Houston have a lot of depth in defence but not necessarily much quality. Aljaz Struna was one of the highest paid centre backs in the league for Houston last season but didn’t fully live up to expectations. The Dynamo backline can be quite slow which often leads to them getting exposed. The bet I like is over 3 goals. This just feels like an obvious high scoring contender. Houston usually get out of the traps quite quickly whilst the Galaxy will want to assert their offensive strength on the game. I see both teams just trying to outscore each other in a shootout.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 3.00 at 1.970
Columbus Crew v New York City FC
Last season wasn’t one to remember fondly for the Crew. They finished 10th in the Eastern Conference and the key to their downfall was a shocking midseason run in which they lost 13 out of 15 games. If you took that out of their campaign though it wasn’t too bad. From mid July onwards the Crew actually ended quite strongly and competitively. Manager Caleb Porter perhaps did well to hang onto his job during that poor period but he has a good MLS record and the club stuck with him. Columbus can be encouraged heading into 2020. The Crew have added quality additions in all areas of the field. Powerful Dutch defender Vito Wormgoor comes in from Norwegian side Brann and he will add some much needed steel to the backline. Darlington Nagbe is one of the top players in MLS and could totally transform their midfield, whilst new designated player Lucas Zelayaran should shine in the playmaker department. The Crew already have plenty of quality options in their squad, such as key striker Gyasi Zardes and his backup Fanendo Adi.
The biggest change for New York City is in the managerial department. Norwegian Ronny Deila replaces Dom Torrent and his target is to finally make NYC into a formidable postseason force. They need a deep run towards the MLS Cup. The Eastern Conference champions will face a much sterner test in their own division this year and perhaps a few sides might overtake them. Deila is a good coach but his sides can be quite inconsistent and go missing in some games, especially defensively. However, when things do click New York City could be irresistible. I was impressed with how good they looked in the recent CONCACAF Champions League, especially from a physical point of view. Deila clearly wants his side to play on the front foot and in the likes of Maxi Moralez, Alexandru Mitrita & Heber he has some excellent technical players to work with.
I think both teams could have decent campaigns. The Crew especially have the ability to surprise after such a poor 2019. The home side are -0.25 favourites which might be on the generous side, but perhaps fair considering it’s the opening round of the season. The bet I like is over 2.75 goals though. The pre season signs are that Columbus have plenty of goals in them at the moment and will certainly look to attack. NYCFC should fight fire with fire and have a proper go themselves. The only slight concern is perhaps the cold Ohio weather which could limit the players. But there is plenty to suggest that at least three goals will be netted here.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.75 at 2.030
Preview by: @meatmansoccer.