CARD king Gavin Murphy (@GamePlanGavin) is back in Italy on Sunday for his next dollop of bookings value.
New England Revolution v Orlando City | Saturday 19:00
There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic for card punter this weekend with derbies in Glasgow, Genoa, London and Bilbao. My focus though will be on Week 2 of the MLS. I've spent the week looking at all manner of referee stats and hopefully this will pay handsome dividends for us.
Two teams predicted to be in the mix for playoff places in the Eastern Conference meet in Massachusetts as New England Revolution host Orlando City.
Orlando opened their season (and new stadium) with a 1-0 win over New York City. It wasn't all great news though as Kaka limped off early and is now missing for six weeks.
Gonzalez to orchestrate dogfight
New England suffered a 1-0 defeat at Colorado and lost one of their star players, Lee Nguyen, to injury too. This game might therefore be more of a dogfight than originally expected and the referee, Jorge Gonzalez, is one to keep an eye on.
The average number of cards shown in Week 1 was 3.91 per match but Gonzalez was not in action. He averaged 5.1 cards per game in 2016 and will be keen to get his season underway.
As mentioned, I've assessed various stats on MLS officials and Gonzalez had the lowest fouls to card ratio of all 27 referees. He generally gives a card every 5.78 fouls. To give this some context the average is 8.01. With a referee who is happy to reach for his cards I want to back the overs.
These two teams combined for only three cards in Week 1. However the matches they played in averaged four cards per game which is more encouraging.
Gonzalez averages 1.78 cards to New England in his career and 2.75 to Orlando. That suggests that 4.53 total cards might be expected here. It is worth noting that his average rises to 3.3 cards for Orlando when they play outside of Florida. That would increase the expected total cards to 5.08. This official loves a card and I'm recommending over 4.5 cards at 7/6 with 888sport.
LA Galaxy v Portland Timbers | Sunday 23:00
My second pick, similar to last week, involves the Los Angeles Galaxy. We won last week going ‘under' with Kevin Stott. Frankly, though, this was down to his amazing leniency. There were some horrendous tackles in that match.
Two Galaxy midfielders got a yellow card in Jermaine Jones and Joao Pedro. Both might have seen red with a different referee. Indeed, Jones will be suspended for this match having been retrospectively charged for endangering FC Dallas striker Cristian Colman.
Galaxy defender Dave Romney has also been disciplined for “an act of embellishment or simulation” and will miss this match. Clearly a discipline problem exists in the city of angels!
Toledo to thwart Galaxy
The bad news for LA is that Boldomero Toledo rolls into town on Sunday. Toledo didn't mess about last week as he issued five yellows and sent off Hassoun Camara of Montreal as they lost at San Jose.
This week Portland Timbers arrive at the StubHub Centre buoyed by a 5-1 thrashing of newboys Minnesota and I expect them to give a depleted Galaxy a stern test.
LA are full of hatchet men such as captain Jelle Van Damme and look very likely to pick up cards even with some absentees. Toledo has shown them two or more cards in 2/3 games anywhere and in 2/3 games when played in California.