Atlanta United v Chicago Fire
Atlanta United are batting it out with New York Red Bulls for the Supporters Shield. It’s been a private battle for quite some time now with nobody in the Western Conference really threatening to get close to them. Atlanta would’ve had this Shield sewn up had they not lost at Red Bull Arena a couple of weeks ago. Their destiny is still in their own hands though and two more wins will see them prevail. Of course, the Supporters Shield isn’t the most important trophy to win. The MLS Cup is the ultimate prize at the end of the year and to get their hands on that then Atlanta will have to grind their way through the playoffs in addition to winning a final, which they know for sure would be hosted here at Mercedes-Benz Stadium should they get that far.
Of their two remaining fixtures, this is definitely the easiest. Next week’s trip to Toronto FC could actually be a potential banana skin but United should make light work of Chicago here. The visitors are resigned to finishing either 9th or 10th in the Conference and compared to the promise of 2017, this campaign has been much poorer for the Fire. They sprung a surprise by beating LAFC recently but that was a home fixture. On the road things have been very poor for them this season losing 10 out of 16 fixtures. Perhaps their one crumb of comfort was that they did at least taste victory at this stadium in 2018 but that was only in the US Open Cup so shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
The one big negative for Atlanta heading into the game is that key playmaker Miguel Almiron is ruled out because of injury. United would be foolish to have him feature again until the playoffs due to his high importance to the team. It’s possible that another strong creative player, Hector Villalba will be injured for this match as well. Atlanta won’t be firing on all cylinders but they still have plenty of weapons at their disposal such as striker Josef Martinez who has fired in a ridiculous 30 goals so far in 2018! United also have way more motivation than Chicago which is a big factor to consider. Perhaps the only danger of the Fire getting anywhere close is if they score a goal or two themselves. But overall I see Atlanta winning by at least a couple, if not by more. They are simply much better than their opponents even without Almiron and have a lot more to fight for. The -1.75 Asian Handicap makes for plenty of overall appeals and I see this being a pretty one sided contest.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Atlanta United -1.75 at 1.950
Montreal Impact v Toronto FC
Montreal Impact have to count themselves as rather unfortunate in some ways. They had a nightmare first half of the campaign but since early June their form has been excellent. The Canadian outfit have won 10, drawn 4 and lost just 5 of their last 19 games which is an average of 1.78 points per game. Under normal circumstances, they would probably have qualified for the playoffs but the brilliant form of DC United and their crippling 0-5 defeat in DC will probably cost them a place in the postseason. All isn’t totally lost for Montreal but they need to make sure they win both remaining games and hope that DCU or Columbus Crew somehow stumble. This is unlikely but whilst they are still in contention I fully expect the Impact to fight really hard right until the end.
See also: Manchester United’s Paul Pogba
Of course, even if nothing was at stake in terms of league position then this fixture would still have plenty riding on it. Montreal vs Toronto has become known as the ’Canadian Classique 401 Derby’ and there is plenty of strong rivalry between the two teams. Toronto certainly won’t be just coming here and giving in easily, they would enjoy playing spoiler and officially ending all of Montreal playoffs hopes. Matches between the two have been evenly split in recent times, with each winning 2 of the last 4. Nobody seems to dominate this rivalry and there have been a mixture of home and away wins in each of the last couple of years. Toronto have lost a massive ten times on the road in 2018 and aren’t on a great run, but I think this is the sort of match where the formbook can almost be thrown out of the window.
Toronto played midweek away at DC United and lost 0-1. That was with a fairly depleted team though and they have been missing all sorts of players to various reasons recently, their starting XI is very hard to predict. I’m not sure who will win this game due to the nature of fixture but I sense it’ll be a really open encounter. It surprises me that the goal line is only set at the 3 mark. Matches at this stage of a campaign tend to be higher scoring anyway but the sheer nature of both teams right now should ensure a wild sort of encounter. Toronto fixtures average a massive 3.60 goals per game this season, which is the highest out of anyone in the Eastern Conference. Montreal encounters haven’t lacked for goals either so I think backing the overs is an obvious play.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 3.00 goals at 1.850
Preview by: @meatmansoccer.