March 29, 2018

MLS Asian Handicap Previews – Saturday 31st March

Minnesota United v Atlanta United

Minnesota lost some ground last week by losing 3-0 away at New York Red Bulls, but their performance wasn’t as bad as the result suggested. It’s true that on another day they probably could’ve conceded 5 or 6 goals, but they deserved to net at least one themselves. A combination of poor finishing, the woodwork, and some good goalkeeping denied them. But it’s clear to see that Minnesota is generally looking dangerous in the final third this season. Head coach Adrian Heath has always preferred to have a positive approach, and with expectations quite low this year, they’ve surprised a few people with extra threat. Of course, the Loons still lack for plenty of quality and it is a shame that injuries have already started to pile up. The likes of Sam Cronin, Kevin Molino, Danladi and Tyrone Mears will probably miss this match against Atlanta United.

This was the fixture last season in which the new boys from Georgia really made their first serious mark on MLS, winning 6-1 in snowy conditions. Since then, Atlanta has been perhaps the most dangerous looking MLS team and their attack force is unstoppable when in full flow. With the combination of Martinez, Almiron, Vilalba, and Gressel they certainly don’t lack for firepower. The aforementioned Martinez was absolutely unplayable in this game last year and I don’t know how Minnesota is going to stop him this time around either. Atlanta opened up the season with a shock 0-4 loss at Houston, but have since hit back with easy wins against DC United and Vancouver. This might be slightly tougher as it’s an away match, but realistically, the visitors are by far the superior side.

It’s no surprise to see Atlanta -0.5 Asian Handicap favorites for this match. On paper, this could be argued as being the worst team vs the best team in MLS. The fact that Gerardo Martino’s men can currently be grabbed at an odds-against price could look massive come the end of the game. Minnesota has some pluckiness though and showed in all of their fixtures this season that they can’t be treated too lightly. The Loons even managed to beat Atlanta in Georgia last season (3-2) and will try and fight fire with fire. This is why I like over 3 goals in this match. Every single fixture for both teams has gone over 2.5 this year and I expect a very open style of match, full of chances. Minnesota miss too many opportunities for my liking but I expect them to contribute towards this line, whilst Atlanta has that bit of extra quality upfront to be clinical when needed. Truth be told, I see something like a 3-1 or 4-1 away win, but if Minnesota grabbed something I wouldn’t be completely surprised. Backing the goals seems the most sensible solution anyway.

Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 3 goals at 2.040

Sporting Kansas City v DC United

It might be early in the season, but it looks like it’s going to be a long campaign for DC United. In simple terms, they just look really ‘weak’ and feel destined to finish in the bottom three of the Eastern Conference. They might even claim the wooden spoon yet again. United feel like a stale side under Ben Olsen and even with some new additions like Yamil Asad and Darren Mattocks, the attack force is lacking too much. DCU hasn’t been helped by a fixture schedule which sees them only play roughly two of their first dozen matches at home. They are waiting for a new stadium to be completed, so things might improve in the second half of the campaign. But right now they have a tough set of games and a trip to SKC is less than ideal.

For the home team, they appear to be a transformed side this year. Gone is the rock-solid defense and ability to keep clean sheets which served them so well last season. But on the flip side, they are actually creating a huge amount of chances and crucially converting more of them as well. The signings of Felipe Gutierrez and Johnny Russell appear to be fantastic pickups and have made this SKC unit far more dangerous. But in general, the mentality of everyone is much more positive and they are willing to attack more. This might be against the natural instinct of head coach Peter Vermes, but right now it’s working. Last weekend they came from 2-0 down early doors to eventually grab a 2-2 draw at Colorado. That is the sort of comeback which SKC could never have achieved in recent years, but they have the weapons and firepower to dominate games much more now.

I just see this match as being one-way traffic from start to finish. I expect SKC to dominate the game in all aspects. They will control possession, create more chances, be far more dangerous and this will probably show in the final scoreline. There is still a slight worry that SKC lacks a proper quality #9 striker, but with so many other players now chipping in with goals then this is less of a problem. United will carry the odd threat on the break with the pace of Asad and Mattocks and they may even bag a goal. But I now have much more confidence that SKC can outscore teams if needed. Based on recent matches then Sporting are capable of netting 3 or 4 times here which should be enough to cover a -1 Asian Handicap, or at worst generate a push. It will take a strange turnaround form or a lot of luck for DC United to suddenly obtain anything, so I’m firmly in the court of backing SKC on this handicap.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Sporting Kansas City -1.00 at 1.880

By @Meatmansoccer

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