Sporting Kansas City v Portland Timbers
Almost in a silent fashion and without anyone really mentioning them too much, SKC is actually five points clear at the top of the Western Conference. Other teams below them have games in hand, but right now they are sitting pretty having only lost four games all campaign. Peter Vermes’ men also have the meanest defense in the whole MLS, conceding just 12 times all year. They have been especially strong at home with an excellent 6-2-0 record, only shipping in three goals. As I first mentioned, almost under the radar they have become a very efficient side.
Perhaps one of the keys to their success is a strong, stable and consistent side. Vermes rarely makes many changes to the starting XI, unless he is forced due to injury and suspension. This weekend is one of those situations where he’s going to have to adapt. Three of his regular key players are away on international duty – Matt Besler, Graham Zusi, and Dom Dwyer. This is especially relevant at the back because the aforementioned duo has been extremely solid this season. Dwyer is a key focal point up front, but SKC does have other attackers who should go well enough in this match. Key Portland defender Liam Ridgewell is still ruled out which will help SKC.
That Sporting Kansas City is as short as 1.70 to win the game is poor value. They are generally priced up on a -0.75 Asian Handicap line. If the home side were at full strength then I would maybe be interested in this handicap, but considering the key absences then I feel it’s too dangerous to back them. Portland, on the other hand, will line up at full strength. The 2015 MLS Cup champions have lost their last five consecutively away from home but should fancy their chances here. Timbers games are usually wide open and in recent weeks have contained a lot of goals. With SKC shorthanded at the back, this may well continue. Over 2.5 goals can be backed as big as 1.91, which is generous for a Portland match. I feel it’s priced upon the reputation of SKC, without considering the fact half of their usual starting defense will be missing.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Over 2.5 goals at 1.91
Columbus Crew v Atlanta United
These two teams met just a couple of weeks ago and on that occasion, Atlanta won 3-1. It was a pulsating end to end type match and I’m expecting a similar style of game here. You know what you’re going to get with the Crew, literally all or nothing. They haven’t drawn a match since the opening day of the season and they seem to either win or lose. One thing is for certain, goals have flowed in most of their fixtures. No team has conceded more goals in the Eastern Conference than them, and in the whole MLS, they are third worst defensively overall. They live by the sword and die by the sword, but their eight victories so far have kept them a competitive playoff force.
Atlanta United have been one of the most exciting teams to watch in MLS this season, as you might expect under the management of Gerardo Martino. They have scored more goals than any other team in MLS and possess a wealth of classy technical players within their ranks. Playmaker Miguel Almiron has arguably been the best player in the entire league and has weighed in with a bunch of goals and assists. Striker Josef Martinez has scored seven times, which is highly impressive considering he’s missed a lot of matches due to injury. With him now at full fitness in the attack, United are going to be a lot more dangerous.
I really don’t know which way this match will go, it will depend on who takes their chances at the most crucial times. The obvious pick is over 3.25 goals. Defenses will be under a lot of pressure here due to the attacking talent on show. At very worst there should be three goals scored, but realistically I think 4 or 5 minimum is to be expected. If there is a high level of clinicality, then this match could explode into a serious feast of goals. I think anyone backing Columbus at odds of 1.80 perhaps needs to think again. The value is all on the visitors on a +0.75 Asian Handicap. But it’s not usually very wise to back road teams in MLS so the most sensible solution is simply to back the over 3.25 line and watch the goals flow in.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Over 3.25 goals at 2.01
Prices correct at time of writing.
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