Atlanta United v Los Angeles FC
LAFC head into this match licking their wounds after an incredible defeat last week. They were 3-0 up and cruising against city rivals LA Galaxy, yet somehow managed to succumb to a 4-3 loss. All the talk was of course about Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s goals, but even prior to his arrival on the field there had been some signs that LAFCA was choking. It still can’t be forgotten how good Bob Bradley’s men were for a good 50 mins of the contest though. They totally dominated their illustrious opponents, creating chance after chance. The likes of Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi, and Latif Blessing have looked so dangerous in attack this season.
It will be a challenge for Atlanta to contain them, especially with key defender Leandro Gonzalez Pirez suspended and Jeff Larentowicz likely injured. United pulled off a rare strong defensive effort last week, holding on 1-0 to beat Minnesota from just the 3rd minute. They sat extremely deep and soaked up a lot of pressure. I was surprised they were able to hang on for a clean sheet, but it goes against the grain and this team usually prefers to be more offensive. I think it was a combination of going down to ten men, brutally cold weather conditions, and a surprisingly good Minnesota performance which forced them on the back foot in that fixture. Here at their Mercedes Benz Arena home, I expect them to go searching for goals much more.
Atlanta United is -0.75 Asian Handicap favorite here which is fair enough. They will probably get the job done and could expose LAFC’s frailties at the back again. However, I think they need to be extremely careful and respect the danger that LAFC possesses in attack. Apart from last week, Atlanta themselves have looked very vulnerable at the back this season and haven’t convinced me. The bet I like for this game is over 3.25 goals. This might feel like quite a big line at this stage of the season, but everything pre-match points towards a high scoring content. Both teams possess so many quality attacking players that surely this will be an over. Neither outfit likes to defend that much and there will be opportunities on the break to convert at either end.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 3.25 goals at 1.800
LA Galaxy v Sporting Kansas City
LA Galaxy has been basking in the glory of their amazing victory against local rivals LAFC. They looked dead and buried at 0-3 down, but somehow managed to come back and win 4-3. The introduction of Zlatan Ibrahimovic was of course a big factor in this, with him bagging two goals off the bench, one of which was an outrageous long distance attempt. I have to say I think Zlatan masked obvious deficiencies within the team though. For a large majority of the contest, they were simply outplayed by LAFC and conceded a huge number of chances at the other end. On another day, they could’ve gotten absolutely battered and it was fortunate for them that things turned out alright in the end.
The visitors to the StubHub Centre this week are SKC and they meet for a Sunday evening showdown. Sporting has looked good this season, already having bagged 3 out of 4 wins. They took down DC United 1-0 in the previous round and to those people who followed them last season, this wouldn’t have been a shock scoreline. SKC was known for grinding out wins and keeping clean sheets. However, this season they have mostly been full of goals and looked more vulnerable at the back. Truth be told, they should’ve scored 3 or 4 last week but their finishing was very poor. I’m still not convinced of them defensively at the moment either and they are conceding too many big opportunities for my liking.
LA Galaxy is -0.25 Asian Handicap favorite here. This is probably about fair, although even then the hosts might be overrated a bit. The simple fact at the moment is that SKC is probably the better side and certainly look like the most all-round unit. The bet I really like for this contest is over 2.5 goals. I’m surprised the odds are as big as 1.85 on this line and I’m convinced it’s because SKC still has this reputation of being so strong defensively. For me, the dynamics of the team has changed to become a more offensive unit and because of this, they are becoming more exposed at the back. Neither team can properly defend unless they literally park the bus right now, but I don’t see that happening here. Entertainment should be the name of the game with opportunities at both ends. There is enough attacking firepower for this over bet to land and the value looks very generous.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.5 goals at 1.847