Atlanta United v New York City FC
Two of the most exciting teams in MLS meet here and it should be pulsating clash. Atlanta have the worst home record in the Eastern Conference, and New York City one of the best on the road. But don’t let this fool anyone. United have only played four games in front of their own fans, suffering a couple of harsh defeats in the process. They looked excellent against Houston last weekend, claiming a comfortable 4-1 win. Atlanta are well led by coach Gerardo Martino and play a lovely technical style which is nice on the eye to watch. On playmaker Miguel Almiron, they perhaps have the best player in the entire league right now, certainly in terms of form. Key striker Josef Martinez remains out injured, although is very close to a return and could possibly feature on the bench here.
New York City have had their ups and downs this season but right now appear to be in a good phase and are quite hot. They’ve only lost 1 of their last 5, and that particular defeat at RSL can almost be ignored because they rested half of their team due to fatigue in that clash. City caught the eye when they hammered Orlando 3-0 in Florida last week, one of the best away performances in MLS to date this season. When you look at the quality NYC possess on paper, it’s obvious they have to be respected anywhere, when in the right sort of mood. I would be a shock if they didn’t raise their level a bit here considering who the opposition are.
I would say the best NYC have played this season was in the reverse fixture in New York, which they won 3-1. So with that in mind it would probably be too risky to back Atlanta, even if their price isn’t too bad. I actually think the home team will win here, but I respect City enough not to bet against them. Atlanta are on a -0.5 Asian Handicap around the 2.05 mark, and I wouldn’t want to put anyone off backing them. My personal preferred pick is over 3.25 goals though. These two teams look to match up extremely well in terms of style. Each love to attack and move the ball with pace, flair and skill. I think there will be a lot of chances here and surely enough of them will be taken for an over bet to cover. The line is set quite high at 3.25 but I’m still happy to back it. At worst, I could envisage a half loss but I see at least four goals being scored. It wouldn’t surprise me if this game ended something silly like 3-2 either way.
Asian Handicap Recommendation: Over 3.25 goals at 2.01
FC Dallas v Houston Dynamo
Dallas lost in midweek, 2-1 away against Chicago Fire. This was the first time they suffered back to back defeats in well over a year! That is a tremendous record in MLS but those two setbacks don’t worry me at all. They totally dominated San Jose last weekend, yet came up against an inspired defence and goalkeeper (0-1). In Chicago midweek they only fielded three first team regulars, with a number of key players sat back at home in Dallas preparing for this massive weekend contest against their most bitter rivals. In the Texan derby, the stakes are high and both teams will be giving 110% to prevail.
Houston, quite frankly do have a massive problem away from home, if you’ll excuse the pun! They’ve lost all 5/5 road contests, with a horrible 3:14 goal differential which simply isn’t good enough. Their players are simply too soft on the road and don’t really have the guile or solid tactics to frustrate anyone. The big strength of Houston lies with their fast pacey attackers like Quioto, Ellis, Manotas & Torres. They will certainly pose a threat to the Dallas defence, but the bigger problem is at the other end where they’ve simply shipped in far too many goals on their travels.
I totally got my fingers burnt backing Dallas last week against San Jose. But I really felt they were unlucky to lose and came up against a team inspired at the back. There is absolutely no way that Houston will be able to offer up anywhere near as much resistance. The threat that the Dynamo have is in a different area upfront. They may well score which is one of the reasons why I like the idea of backing over 2.75 goals. Dallas are -0.75 Asian Handicap favourite around the 1.80 mark and this is good enough for me to take as well. Houston have such a poor road record and facing perhaps the best MLS team in their own backyard is likely to be a step too far. This is a Texan derby, so maybe the formbook can’t be considered quite so much, but I’m still confident enough to go with two selections here.
Asian Handicap Recommendation: Dallas -0.75 Asian Handicap at 1.84 & Over 2.75 goals at 1.95
Prices correct at time of writing.
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