STATESIDE thoughts from Will Dyer (@w2Dyer) here as he pinpoints four MLS bets for us.
LA Galaxy v Portland Timbers | Monday 02:35 | Sky Sports 1
It’s been a really shoddy start to the title defence by the Timbers and now the injury to Liam Ridgewell for at least a month is another set-back but I feel Portland might fight back here.
Los Angeles are seriously underpowered for this game. Steven Gerrard, Robbie Keane and Giovanni Dos Santos all miss out as do Leonardo and Jeff Larentowicz at the back.
When LA played host to Portland last October they went in at the half 1-0 up but ended up losing 5-2. Both of the home goals were scored by Robbie Keane who, as already mentioned, misses out this time around.
Portland’s front man Fanendo Adi looks like he is building significantly on his progress last year. The 6ft 4in striker scored twice in this fixture last year and will cause all sorts of problems to an LA defence that is both ageing and understrength without Dan Kennedy in goal and the aforementioned Larentowicz and Leonardo.
The Galaxy have conceded 13 goals in their last eight MLS games at the StubHub. There’s a reason Portland won MLS Cup last season and I expect that organisation to show this weekend. The Timbers were sensational at times on their travels last season recording a league high seven away wins and can cause another shock here.
LA might have won their first two home fixtures by an aggregate score of 7-2 but the 3-1 victory over San Jose was hugely influenced by a first half red card for the visitors and the other victory came over a DC United team that’s trending in the wrong direction.
Montreal Impact v Columbus Crew | Saturday 21:05 | Sky Sports 3
The Impact lost a tight game at CenturyLink Field 1-0 to a late Clint Dempsey goal last weekend. However, it’s their home form that’s been their strongest asset of late. Montreal have won their last eight straight home MLS fixtures at the Stade Saputo, scoring at least twice in every victory.
Columbus have lost their last three visits to the French Canadian city including the 2-1 loss in the Quarter Finals of MLS Cup last year. Crew are possibly without Kei Kamara this weekend due to a knee sprain and that could be crucial.
The Sierra Leonean target man was joint top scorer in MLS 2015 and will be hugely missed should he not feature. His hold up play and presence will completely alter the way Crew set up.
Regardless of his inclusion or not I still fancy Impact to win this match-up at home. They may have lost their last two but both were against strong defences on the road and I’m expecting a backlash.
New England Revolution v Toronto FC | Saturday 21:05
Toronto play their fifth consecutive away game here and I’m inclined to believe that this long road trip sequence is starting to take its toll. The Reds have lost their last two without scoring; their last game being in the mile high altitude of Colorado.
Now TFC head back East to face the Revs who are fresh off a home win over the Eastern Conference reigning champs New York Red Bulls. Back to back home games are always beneficial. There are strong trends to support this in NFL and soccer is no different in that respect; another sport affected by big distances between teams in North America.
Revs have lost just two of their last 19 home MLS matches dating back to March 2015. They have also won five of their last six meetings with Toronto. Toronto, on the other hand, have lost 13 of their last 21 away MLS fixtures and leaked goals for fun last season.
There are signs that Toronto’s backline is improving and I expect them to start to record more clean sheets when they get back home but the Revs looked dangerous last weekend against NYRB and have the makings of a prolific attack in 2016.
New York Red Bulls v Sporting Kansas City | Sunday 00:05 | Sky Sports 3
I’ve looked at two all Eastern meetings so far but now I revert to one of my favourite MLS betting strategies of recent times; backing Western Conference teams to beat Eastern sides.
The Western Conference has been significantly stronger than the East for a few seasons now and that shows no signs of slowing. So far the West have won 66 points in total but the East just 48. A big difference after just 42 games being played.
NYRB came unstuck again last weekend to rivals New England in Foxborough. They now hold the worst defensive record through four fixtures of all 20 teams in the 2016 MLS; nine conceded. Matt Miazga made his Chelsea debut last weekend and is sorely missed. As is Damien Perrinelle who’s recovering from surgery.
As if missing those two stalwarts of last season wasn’t enough. Red Bulls are also without Gideon Baah and Kemar Lawrence for defensive cover in their absence and so look set to struggle against a Kansas City side that won their first three games of the season.
SKC have looked cool in possession so far this season. I am not too concerned by their home reverse against Real Salt Lake. RSL are one of just two unbeaten teams remaining this season and look to have made huge strides from the last campaign. I’ll back Sporting to avoid defeat at the Red Bull Arena.
Montreal Impact v Columbus Crew – Montreal Impact to win (13/10 Coral)
New England Revolution v Toronto FC – New England Revolution to win (21/20 William Hill)
New York Red Bulls v Sporting Kansas City – Sporting Kansas City +0.5 (10/11 BetVictor)
LA Galaxy v Portland Timbers – Portland Timbers to win (10/3 Bet365)
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