MLS expert Luke Beaumont (@_LukeBeaumont) analyses the penultimate round of action on Sunday night from across the pond.
Atlanta United v Chicago Fire | Sunday 21st October 2018, 20:00
Heading into the penultimate weekend in MLS, the Eastern Conference has taken shape and it’s the Supporters’ Shield race between Atlanta United and New York Red Bulls that has everyone’s attention.
Atlanta lead the race by one point and are favourites to win the regular season honours and pick up their first piece of silverware. Next up for the Five Stripes is a home game against Chicago Fire, which is set to be played out in front of over 70,000 fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Atlanta are unbeaten at home since May and haven’t been troubled by teams outside of the play-off reckoning. Chicago Fire sit second-bottom of the Eastern Conference and have lost seven of their last eight games on the road.
There’s only one team with something to play for and that is Atlanta. It could be a special occasion for the 70,000 fans in attendance – they know that if they win and New York Red Bulls (who play at the same time) lose, they will be confirmed as regular season champions.
I predict that most of the travelling Chicago Fire side will be overawed by the atmosphere and occasion and we will see a dominant Atlanta United win, so back the hosts to score 3+ goals at 8/11 (SkyBet).
DC United v New York City FC | Sunday 21st October 2018, 20:00 | Sky Sports
In recent times, DC United have become everyone’s favourite team. The arrival of Wayne Rooney has taken the side from rock-bottom of the Eastern Conference to the verge of securing a play-off spot and becoming the most-feared outfit going into the post-season.
A midweek victory over reigning champions Toronto has put DC four points above the play-off line with just two games remaining, which is an incredible achievement considering the start they had.
The Washington-based club spent the early stages of the season playing away from home because their new stadium, Audi Field, was still under construction. Fast-forward to October and DC have snuck into the play-offs thanks to Rooney’s influence and some incredible form at their new home.
Ben Olsen’s side have won six of their last seven at home and they are preparing to take on an out of form NYCFC side who have only won once in their last eight games. A win for United in their last home game of the season will confirm their participation in this season’s play-offs.
They will want to get the job done on home soil this weekend, so they don’t have to worry about the last game of the season in Chicago. Considering NYCFC’s incredibly poor form and DC’s desire to get those final three points required – 13/10 (Bet365) for the home win looks very attractive.
Minnesota United v LA Galaxy | Sunday 21st October 2018, 22:00
LA Galaxy and Zlatan Ibrahimovic travel to Minnesota this weekend to take on the Loons in front of 50,000+ fans at TCF Bank Stadium.
The sell-out crowd is a one-off and Zlatan was quoted in the week saying that he “owes” the Minnesota fans to come because they don’t get these numbers every week and he’s sure “they’re not coming for Minnesota”.
The Galaxy took a blow in midweek after Real Salt Lake secured a comfortable 4-1 win over New England and leapfrogged LA into the play-off places.
LA Galaxy are now four points adrift of the play-offs with just a couple of games left. They need to win both games and hope that RSL fail to win their last game of the season in Portland.
Winning away from home is easier said than done for an LA Galaxy side who have lost four of their last six on the road, conceding a whopping 21 goals in the process.
The Galaxy will be deflated following Real Salt Lake’s win during the week, and they’re going to be up against a Minnesota side who will be right up for their last home game of the season and will be buzzing to play in front of a 50,000+ sell-out crowd.
Back Minnesota to avoid defeat at 5/6 (Bet365) in the Double Chance market and put Zlatan on the verge of missing out on the play-offs in his first season in Major League Soccer.
San Jose Earthquakes v Colorado Rapids | Sunday 21st October 2018, 22:00
Looking at the league table, you would be forgiven for thinking that this meeting is set to be horrific viewing. San Jose are the worst team in Major League Soccer, sitting bottom of the Western Conference with an embarrassing 20 points. Meanwhile, Colorado are just above them with 27.
It’s pretty much impossible to predict the outcome of this game because they’re both so unpredictable, and ultimately, really bad. The Earthquakes are currently on a six-game losing streak and Colorado had lost seven games in succession before picking up three points in Minnesota last weekend.
This is going to be a messy game featuring subpar defending and we should see lots of goals which will hopefully ease the pain of the standard we might have to endure.
San Jose’s last five home games have seen Over 3.5 Goals, as well as Both Teams To Score. The previous five results from Avaya Stadium were 2-3, 4-3, 1-5, 3-4 and 1-3.
San Jose and Colorado have a hard time keeping the ball out of their own net, so I am expecting a goalfest. Over 3.5 Goals is priced up at 6/5 (William Hill) for the Avaya Stadium faithful to see another 4+ goals for the sixth game in succession.
Atlanta United v Chicago Fire – Atlanta United to score 3+ goals (8/11 SkyBet)
DC United v New York City FC – DC United to win (13/10 Bet365)
Minnesota United v LA Galaxy – Minnesota United double chance (5/6 Bet365)
San Jose Earthquakes v Colorado Rapids – Over 3.5 Goals (6/5 William Hill)