CARD king Gavin Murphy (@GamePlanGavin) turns to the new MLS season and finds two bookings bets begging to be backed.
Major League Soccer returns this weekend and I believe that I've unearthed a solid looking double for card punters. I should probably start off by saying that the MLS Professional Referee Organization are implementing new rules this season as outlined by their general manager (ex Premier League whistleblower) Peter Walton.
These new rules are likely to mean more cards being issued as they include:
- being able to send a player off before the game starts
- punishing holding and pushing in the penalty area
- visual dissent such as throwing arms in the air or racing after an official to berate them
- delayed restarts and general time wasting
Ok enough of the rules and on with the selections…
LA Galaxy v FC Dallas | Saturday 21:00 | Sky Sports 2
Galaxy averaged 1.79 cards per game in 2016 and Dallas 1.88. That suggests that 3.67 might be expected in this fixture. There were four cards given in their last meeting in October.
However, the referee in this one is Kevin Stott. Who knows how he will apply the new rules but he averaged just 1.84 cards in 2016. That ranked him 26th out of 27 in cards issued by referees.
15/18 matches he covered had four or less cards in them and he gave three cards on the opening day last season as LA beat DC United 4-1 at home.
I was shocked to see 888sport offering under 4.5 cards at 10/11 and that must be backed with this referee.
Real Salt Lake v Toronto FC | Saturday 21:30
This isn't on TV but looks to be the opposite of the first game from a card perspective. Allen Chapman is in charge and he has some big numbers. Last season he averaged 5.36 cards per game.
In 2015 he averaged 8.72, 7.36 in 2014 and 7.00 in 2013. He gave four cards on his opening match last term between New York Red Bulls and Toronto.
Real Salt Lake averaged 2.12 cards per game in 2016 and Toronto 1.73. That implies 3.85 cards might be expected here but with this referee I expect more than that.
888sport are offering 3/4 on over 3.5 cards and that looks well worth backing. Naturally this is the opening weekend of the season and the interpretation of the new rules is unknown so I'd keep stakes modest. You may want to do as singles but I'm doing the double which pays around 23/10.