FRESH from an outstanding midweek treble, the king of MLS tipping Will Dyer (@w2Dyer) returns with four weekend Stateside picks.
New York Red Bulls v Philadelphia Union | Sunday 20:00
This could be considered a bit of a ‘dead rubber’ game. Philadelphia have nothing but pride to play for and New York have comfortably qualified for the play-offs. However, the hosts will want to bring home the Supporter’s Shield for the Eastern Conference and the best possible seeding to boot.
Union have had a rough season but they’ve still scored consistently. They’ve scored in 20 of their last 21 MLS games and all of their last six meetings with the Red Bulls. The U have won twice at the Red Bull Arena this season. A 2-0 win in the league and a win on penalties in the US Open Cup despite playing with 10 men for 50 minutes.
Clean sheets have gone A.W.O.L for the Red Bulls with none in their last four home games and, as mentioned in the last two previews, there’s something fishy about the league leaders at the minute. I think they’ll be tired after midweek’s exploits and they are definitely struggling defensively without options like Chris Duvall and Roy Miller.
New York’s tiny price of 2/5 in the match odds is giving us some beef on Philadelphia and I believe the best away of taking advantage of that is to back Both Teams To Score here. Philly have a fully fit strike force that have been sharing the goals around all season and they should play with freedom this weekend which is often dangerous.
Orlando City v New York City | Saturday 00:00 | Sky Sports 2
I’ve said all season that New York are a poor and unbalanced team. Defeat to DC United last time out highlighted that; United were winless in six MLS games but dominated the match from start to finish and even had 60% possession against the likes of Frank Lampard, David Villa and Andrea Pirlo. DC don’t normally excel with possession based football but they did against NYCFC.
That defeat ended New York’s play-off hopes and now they travel to Orlando who’ve won four on the bounce and must win to stay in touch with Montreal Impact for an unlikely 6th placed finish.
The Citrus Bowl has been a bit of a fortress for the Lions of late. Orlando’s last 12 home MLS games read W6 D4 L2; those two losses came to FC Dallas and New York Red Bulls – the leaders of the Western and Eastern Conferences so I think I’ll let them off!
A quick look at their defensive record is worrying; 54 conceded in 32 games but just 33% of those goals were leaked at home and NYCFC have lost three of their last four road games. There’s likely to be a raucous atmosphere being Friday night and a repeat of Orlando’s first ever MLS game back in March when 62,000 were in attendance.
Kaka is suspended and obviously losing your playmaker and second top scorer is far from ideal but Orlando’s Cyle Larin is the form striker in MLS with four goals in his last two games. I fancy the hosts to dominate this must win fixture.
San Jose Earthquakes v Sporting Kansas City | Saturday 04:00
There are a few trends I really like in this one. Firstly, we should be supporting San Jose as they cannot afford to lose this one. They are three points behind Portland who face a tough trip to Los Angeles so this could quite easily see both teams level on 47 points come Monday.
Houston and Seattle are also involved in the scrap. Houston need results to go their way and also goal difference so it’s a long shot for them but Seattle could still easily lose out at the hands of the Earthquakes and Timbers if they don’t keep their eye on the prize.
San Jose obliterated SKC 5-0 at Sporting Park back in August which was one of the shocks of the season. Sporting were unbeaten at home at that point and then go and lose 5-0. Madness. This league is crazy sometimes.
I backed the Earthquakes to score exactly one goal in their last home game and they obliged; it’s now seven straight MLS games at the Avaya Stadium in which San Jose have scored exactly one goal. That’s 7/4 again with Betfair but I’m a little cautious with these games looking highly volatile and with so much at stake.
Chris Wondolowski scored two in that 5-0 victory over Sporting. The visitors 41 goals conceded is the third worst in the Western Conference; Kansas City are my 25/1 shots for the MLS Cup but they aren’t filling me with confidence at the minute.
The hosts have a few injury problems and I think they could be reliant on Wondo here. He has 16 goals this season, as usual, and as a great finisher and the penalty taker he is always a good bet to score anytime.
Toronto FC v Columbus Crew | Saturday 19:00
Well, what a fabulous individual goal from Sebastian Giovinco to ultimately win us the treble in midweek. What’s even more impressive is that Seb woke up in Rome that morning; put your international duty fatigue argument in your pipe and smoke it!
Toronto’s fourth win on the bounce confirmed their first ever Play-Off spot after eight unsuccessful attempts. Jozy Altidore got a straight red on the bench for his antics when appealing for a Toronto penalty so misses out but, as I’ve discussed with others, I think Michael Bradley and Giovinco are far more important to the team and Hercules Gomez scored when called upon in midweek.
Nine of Toronto’s last 10 wins at BMO Field have seen both sides score. There have been three 2-1s, four 3-1s, one 3-2 and one 4-1. If ever evidence was needed to support my ‘Correct Scores are better than Match Result and Both Teams To Score’ article, it’s there.
Kei Kamara and Giovinco are both tied on 22 goals for the golden boot. In addition to that, Crew haven’t kept a clean sheet in any of their last 12 games and Toronto have the joint worst defensive record but also the best offensive record in the Conference; you’d be mad to oppose a high scoring game.
Ethan Finlay has caught my eye as well this season for Columbus but they’ve never really struck me as a team that could win the MLS Cup. They were primed for a top four spot just a few weeks ago but after three defeats in their last five they’ve gone off the boil a bit.
So the 2-1 and 3-1 correct scores at 8/1 and 14/1 with BetVictor are worthy singles. However, I can’t exactly tip them both as I know many of you back the multiple on this column. So, I will go against my word again and tip Toronto to win and Both Teams To Score.
I do think it’s a worthwhile price at 12/5 given Toronto’s recent form but please if you’re considering backing it as a single, halve your stakes and back the 2-1 and 3-1 correct scores instead!
New York Red Bulls v Philadelphia Union – Both Teams To Score (3/4 Betway)
Orlando City v New York City FC – Orlando City to win (Evens Bet365)
San Jose Earthquakes v Sporting Kansas City – Chris Wondolowski to score anytime (13/8 Skybet)
Toronto FC v Columbus Crew – Toronto to win & Both Teams To Score (12/5 Betfair)
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