MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER expert Kyle Worthington (@SM_Kyle) analyses the action from Wednesday night's action from across the pond.
Sporting Kansas City v Los Angeles FC | Thursday 4th July 2019, 01:30
Bottom faces top in the Western Conference on Thursday night as floundering Sporting Kansas City host a rampant Los Angeles FC outfit.
After a fairly decent start to the season in March, and a pretty impressive CONCACAF Champions League effort, it’s all been downhill since for SKC. They lie at the bottom of the West having played 17 games and registering just 19 points (W4-D7-L6).
There’s a long way to go and part of me thinks SKC they can still turn their season around – they’re just five points off a play-off spot and there’s plenty of football still to be played. However, I can’t for the life of me see them making the U-turn here as they welcome the best of the rest so far…
LAFC have been absolutely outstanding this campaign; I could sit and talk about them all day – they’re a joy to watch, a team full of talent with the likes of Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi, Latif Blessing etc.
LA’s record makes for much better reading (W11-D4-L2). They’ve racked up 37 points from 17 games and have scored a remarkable 39 goals and conceded just 14. They sit top of the Western Conference (and top of MLS as a whole ) and they boast the best goal scoring record, as well as the best defensive record.
From the 17 games LA have played this season, they’ve scored twice or more in 14, and in several of them it’s been three, four or even five-goal hauls. So my main pick is the Over 1.5 team goals angle at 5/6 (Bet365). And a quick mention to Vela as I always do when covering an LAFC game – it’s 16 goals in 17 games for the Mexican so far – unbelievable numbers.
To summarise, I really don’t think SKC will end the season in this position, I think they’re better than that and there are a few worse teams in the league (and West). But hosting LAFC is not a game in which I see a turnaround coming so I’ll support my first selection with a poke on LAFC to score in both halves at 9/5 (William Hill).
Orlando City v Philadelphia Union | Thursday 4th July 2019, 00.30 | FreeSports
Here’s a game that should be brilliant to watch; Philadelphia have been the surprise package in MLS this season and they have found their way to the top of the Eastern Conference, shocking many (including myself) along the way.
Orlando, on the other hand, have also been pretty impressive. They’ve improved massively on last season and have looked like a very good team at times, although just a bit too inconsistent.
Goals is the direction I’m taking for this one – both sides have been involved in some crazy games over the last few months.
I’ll start with Philadelphia: their total goals record reads, 34 scored and 25 conceded from 19 games. Now for a team sat top of the Conference, 25 goals against is a lot and without their remarkable scoring power they simply wouldn’t be close to where they find themselves. It’s a risky game to play, relying on their firepower as much as they do.
A downturn in attacking output from Union, along with their leaky defence, could see their position take quite a turn. There are currently eight sides in MLS with better defensive numbers than Philadelphi.
Philly have several players to thank for their goalscoring record as they don’t have a single player on the roster with more than six goals to their name, which just goes to show how equally the goals are shared around.
Meanwhile, Orlando’s record reads, 24 scored, 22 conceded. On a few occasions they’ve found goalscoring an issue but that has changed recently and over their last five outings they’ve netted twice or more on four occasions. Now just like Philadelphia, they don’t have just one standalone scorer with four players notching four times or more.
Defensively, City have tightened up hugely in comparison to last season in what truly was a campaign to forget. Twenty-two goals conceded from 17 is a better record than their opponents on Thursday night, although Philadelphia have played two extra matches.
I think we’re in store for a game that hopefully should deliver in the goals department. Orlando can keep teams out – there’s no doubt about it – but they struggle when they come up against sides like Philadelphia who have such a strong attack, whereas the Union can’t seem to keep them out, but seem more than happy to outscore their opponents.
Therefore, I’ll be looking to exploit three goals-based angles this midweek with Over 3 Goals evens at Marathon, Philadelphia to score Over 1.5 Goals (29/20 Coral) and both teams to score two goals or more at 3/1 with Paddy Power.
Sporting Kansas City v Los Angeles FC – Los Angeles FC to score Over 1.5 Goals (5/6 Bet365)
Sporting Kansas City v Los Angeles FC – Los Angeles FC to score in both halves (9/5 William Hill)
Orlando City v Philadelphia Union – Over 3 Asian Goals (1/1 Marathon)
Orlando City v Philadelphia Union – Philadelphia to score Over 1.5 Goals (29/20 Coral)
Orlando City v Philadelphia Union – Both teams to score two goals or more (3/1 Paddy Power)