Sporting Kansas City v Montreal Impact
Both teams will be fairly satisfied with their season so far heading into this fixture. Sporting Kansas City have four points on the board but have also reached the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League. The first leg against Mexican side Monterrey will be played away from home next Thursday (4th April) so their minds could be focused on that clash. Anyone looking to back Sporting Kansas City here, and they are roughly a -0.75 Asian Handicap favourite has to be aware of the fact that some players could be saved for that crucial trip to Mexico. SKC are one of the favourites to win the Western Conference and are usually very formidable at home, where their stadium Children’s Mercy Park is regularly sold out.
This could be a bit of a banana skin fixture for the hosts because Montreal Impact have started the season well. They knew it was going to be a tricky opening for them in 2019 with all of their first 6 fixtures away from home. Victories at San Jose & Orlando have been impressive, whilst they were unlucky to lose at Houston in week two. Fundamental to this success have been the performances of some of their key players, notably Ignacio Piatti and Saphir Taider. When both are in good form they can cause huge problems in MLS because they are generally a technical class above most others. In their previous game at Orlando, new winger Orji Okwonkwo caught the eye and he is vying with Harry Novillo for a starting spot on the right wing. Montreal have pace and skill, although their defence has yet to be really tested by anyone good.
This should be more of a challenge against a strong SKC unit, but the hosts do lack that top quality sort of #9 striker and have done for a while. They rely on the likes of Johnny Russell and Gerson Fernandes who regularly operate as inside forwards, to chip in with goals. Krisztian Nemeth should start upfront but his finishing can also be hit or miss. Sporting are a threat from set pieces and have players all over the field who can find the back of the net. I have long suspected that SKC are what I’d call a ‘sneaky’ over team in terms of goals. They have a longstanding reputation of being a ‘defensive’ outfit and getting involved in low scoring matches. That hasn’t so much been the case in the last 18 months though and I like the look of over backing over 2.75 here. We know Montreal will carry a significant threat on the break and all three of their MLS games in 2019 have ended over 2.5 so far. This could be a more exciting contest than anticipated so I’d rather side with the overs in this market.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.75 goals at 1.850
LA Galaxy v Portland Timbers
LA Galaxy have 6 points on the board after three matches and that has to be considered a very good start for them this season. They haven’t always been convincing but in terms of raw results the Galaxy can’t really complain. The previous fixture at home to Minnesota United ended in a 3-2 win, but for the majority of the match Galaxy comfortably dominated. For many people, including myself this was a surprise. Minnesota had been in good form and the hosts were without their talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic. It seemed like the whole team just raised their level and gave it everything. The energy and drive shown by Guillermo Schelotto’s men was highly impressive and it was almost like the ‘old Galaxy’ of 4 or 5 years ago that used to dominate this league. Overall, it was a hugely encouraging performance anyway.
Portland Timbers meanwhile, have had a fairly shambolic start to the campaign. The 2015 MLS champions have already conceded a whopping 10 goals in just 3 games and it could’ve quite easily been more. At some point you would think they will tighten up, but it might not be until they are back playing some home fixtures. Their own stadium Providence Park is undergoing an upgrade and it won’t be until 2nd June until they are in front of their own fans again. This is quite problematic because historically they’ve always been such a strong side at home, but very questionable away. If they keep playing as they have been then it’s quite possible that come that aforementioned 2nd of June date, Giovanni Savarese’s men are bottom of the Western Conference.
Centre back Larrys Mabiala will be suspended for the visitors which might be a good thing considering how poorly the Timbers’ defence has been this season. LA Galaxy are set to welcome back both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romain Alessandrini in some sort of capacity. This would be great news for the Galaxy due to the strong influence these guys have on the team. Portland have had a couple of weeks to lick their wounds and there is a chance they will try and sort out their leaky backline by employing more conservative tactics. However, until I see evidence of that on the field I think it’s wise to back the overs in their matches. The Timbers carry a big goal threat themselves with the likes of Blanco and Valeri usually creating plenty of chances. I am tempted to back the Galaxy but their price on a -0.5 Asian Handicap is too skinny around the 1.95 mark and offers little value. Over 3 goals can be taken around the 1.80 and this is a nice bet to take. Even backing over 3.25 would be a good pick at similar odds in my opinion.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 3.00 goals at 1.800
Preview by: @meatmansoccer.