Atlanta United v Portland Timbers
West meets East at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in what is an eagerly anticipated clash between two of the best teams in MLS. Atlanta United continue their march towards the Eastern Conference title and they already have a five-point gap ahead of nearest rivals New York City. In all truth, I think quite a lot of people would be surprised if they didn’t also go on to win the Supporters Shield as well this season. There have however been some chinks in the Atlanta armour recently, especially here at home. Incredibly ‘Tata’ Martino’s side have lost 3 of their last 4 in front of their own fans, including a midweek shock reverse to Chicago Fire in the US Open Cup. Atlanta have been so strong here since this stadium opened, it’s therefore been a shock to see them suffer a little bit of late.
Portland Timbers should come here refreshed due to the fact they played their most recent US Open Cup match last weekend instead of midweek. Giovanni Savarese’s men travel here unbeaten in 8 MLS fixtures, so confidence is sure to be really high heading into this one. It has to be mentioned that only two of those matches in this run have been on the road though and the general theme this season is that Portland have struggled in away games. I’m not sure victories at San Jose or Colorado can really be taken too seriously considering how poor those two outfits are at the moment. This will be a far tougher match facing one of the elite teams in MLS.
One of the big questions heading into this match is the status of key Atlanta striker Josef Martinez. He missed the midweek cup match due to a broken nose, although should feature here with some protection on his face. Martinez has been hot property since here entered the league and this week Mexican giants Club America revealed they are interested in signing him. United would be reluctant to let him go but maybe the player is in the shop window and will be eager to impress here. My pick for this match is to take Atlanta on a -1 Asian Handicap. Perhaps it’s a bit dangerous betting against a side that haven’t lost since mid-April, but I feel this will be a really tough test for Portland. When Atlanta are at their best, nobody can touch them really and I expect their class to prevail here. They’ve been given a kick of the backside due to a few below par recent results, so I expect the Georgia outfit to be more focused and get the job done.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Atlanta United -1.00 at 1.960
New York City FC v Toronto FC
Sunday’s doubleheader in MLS really is something to look forward to. Aside from the terrible scheduling in which both matches are on at the same time, the second part of the doubleheader is yet another potentially exciting clash. New York City meet Toronto FC, a battle between two teams who are no strangers to each other in recent years. All eyes on are NYC at the moment due to the coaching situation. Patrick Vieira has left to go to OGC Nice and Domenec Torrent is taking over. For those who haven’t heard of him, he is the longstanding assistant manager of Pep Guardiola and comes with fine pedigree, even though he hasn’t been a head coach for well over a decade now. He may not be here in person for this match though. Torrent has been having problems obtaining a work visa so NYC are likely to be managed by interim coach Javier Perez. Whether the team is unsettled due to Viera’s departure and the upcoming new coach’s arrival remains to be seen.
One of the big questions about MLS this season is what the hell has happened to Toronto FC? Gone is the machine like team that dominated this league in recent years. Instead, they amazingly find themselves second bottom of the Eastern Conference after 14 games. At least TFC have some fixtures in hand and a few legitimate excuses to fall back upon, but for the most part, it’s very much been a below par year for Greg Vanney’s men. Injuries haven’t helped them but that situation is gradually getting better. Centre back Drew Moor and striker Jozy Altidore remain the most notable casualties out of action. Things have been quite wild in TFC games recently! They blew a 3-0 lead to draw 3-3 with Columbus Crew away, then they themselves came from 0-3 and 3-4 down respectively to draw 4-4 with DC United!
Toronto FC have owned NYC in the last couple of years, not losing any of the last six head-to-head meetings between the two sides. Some recent beatings have been brutal as well, not least the 5-0 hammering here in the Big Apple in the 2016 playoffs. TFC won 4-0 in the last meeting which was nearly a full year ago now. I’m not sure which way this game will go because there are question marks surrounding both sides at the moment. The word fragile could be used to describe each of them really, but this should at least lead to an open and entertaining game. Everyone is really going to be up for it massively for various different reasons and the bet that really stands out to me is over 3 goals. This fixture has a history for containing a lot of overs, and both teams are no strangers to high scoring games this season. It looks like an obvious pick to me because a 2-2 or 3-3 sort of outcome wouldn’t really surprise anyone.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 3.00 goals at 1.819
Preview by: @meatmansoccer .
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