Orlando City v Chicago Fire | Sunday 20th September 2020, 00:30
In the early hours of Sunday morning there are a few MLS games which take my fancy, the first being Chicago Fire making the trip to Orlando City. This is a bit of a trek for the Fire as it’ll be a three-hour flight, and little things like that do have to come into consideration if you’re thinking of backing an away team to win in this league.
That being said, Chicago Fire have actually won on their last two visits to Orlando, so they’re actually going in search of three in a row. It is however worth mentioning that Orlando haven’t won a designated actual MLS away fixture since their last trip to this stadium, which was last October.
When you find one of those teams that struggles on the road, you’re always keen to find a way to go against them. Chicago are generally one of those teams. That is because they’ve won only four MLS away matches since the start of 2018; two of course being Orlando!
This can often be an unpredictable league where the unpredictable generally happens, but I for one can’t back an away victory here. Although, I’m not necessarily keen to be rushing into back Orlando at odds-on, either. They are five unbeaten however, so they’re in good nick in that regard. However, they’re not a side to really produce a 90-minute performance, and as such they’ll probably give you a few heart permutations along the way!
Orlando are clearly the more likely winner, and I have found a way of sort of getting them on side, where in truth it is mainly because I want to be against Chicago given they generally struggle away and this is a long trip for them. Orlando currently sit fourth in the Eastern Conference, but they are ranked number one in MLS in relation for matches seeing both teams score. In fact, only once this season has that not been the case.
The bet-builder I have identified is Orlando City Double Chance and Both Teams To Score at 1/1 (Bet365). Despite their lofty league position, Orlando have just the one clean sheet this season, and also Chicago aren’t exactly much better with their two.
These are two teams that will have a go, and most MLS games will see both teams create big chances at some point in the match given the standard is a much of a muchness across the board. I don’t see a low-scoring game here, and if it is then it’ll be down to poor finishing.
DC United v Toronto FC | Sunday 20th September 2020, 00:30
The second match I like the look of overnight in the US revolves around DC United welcoming Toronto FC to Audi Field in an all-Eastern Conference battle. The recent head-to-head guide may point this in favour of the outsiders as DC are unbeaten in the last seven renewals over 90-minutes, although they did lose a play-off match quite heavily in extra back last October.
The bookies have priced Toronto as favourites here, and that is completely understandable. Whilst you should always approach an away favourite with caution in MLS, I think in this case it makes total sense, regardless of the H2H records. The reason being is that DC United just cannot score, and it would appear their only chance of getting results right now is to play an ultra-defensive game.
Earlier this month they drew 0-0 at home to New York City FC after not having a single shot on goal. Any shot whatsoever. They were also the home team. This was Ben Olsen’s way of trying to make them hard to beat, but they would back it up with a 2-0 home to loss to New York Red Bulls, but they at least had eight shots on goal this time!
Across their last eight games they’ve failed to score 2+ goals, and four times they didn’t score at all. Olsen is coming under big pressure from sections of the fan base, so they really need a big result to get things going again.
Toronto are one of the bigger clubs in this league given the type of player they have been able to attract over the years. Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore have been with them a while now, whilst adding Pablo Piatti to complement the other creative types such as Alejandro Pozuelo will always make them an attacking threat. It has been working too as only Orlando City have scored more goals in this Conference this season.
Toronto have double the amount of goals as DC doo, so I am more than happy to throw up Toronto FC (33/20 Unibet) as my selection. They are generally odds-on in most places but I am quite surprised to see a few odds-against quotes and they just have to be snapped up.
Yes, strange things can happen in this league, and I am certainly wary of backing an away team at relatively short odds, but I am simply backing the better team and I still think they represent value at the time of writing.
FC Tokyo v Vegalta Sendai | Sunday 20th September 2020, 11:00
Finally I have taken a trip to Japan for my last recommendation of the weekend and the beautiful city of Tokyo as Vegalta Sendai make the trip to take on FC Tokyo at Aijnomoto Stadium. It may surprise you to know that despite being the capital of the country, FC Tokyo have never won the J1 League crown, and truth be told it is unlikely to happen this season.
That is despite the fact they currently find themselves in third position going into the weekend, but they are 12-points behind Kawasaki Frontale, who in turn are five points in front of Cerezo Osaka, so it is a bit of a two-horse race.
Nevertheless, Tokyo have an agenda of their own and they’ll be keen to qualify for the AFC Champions League. They’re actually still in the competition from last season, which was suspended due to the pandemic.
Vegalta Sendai are certainly not one of the big hitters in this league, and don’t possess any real standout individuals in their roster. They’re generally been a mid-table team for around six or seven seasons now, and they’re perhaps a little fortunate that there will be no relegation out of this league at the end of the campaign. That does take the pressure of them to a degree, but it does essentially mean Sunday’s match is realistically more important for Tokyo.
It is especially key for Tokyo as they need to bounce back after a shock 3-2 home loss to Oita, another bottom-half side, last time out. The reason Tokyo are indeed 12 points behind the leaders is because they suffer a few too many results of that nature.
At home is particularly a problem as they have a won four, lost four ratio which isn’t anything to brag about. Two of those losses came to teams currently in the bottom-seven, which is where Vegalta Sendai are currently positioned.
Tokyo are much more reliable away from home, where they are unbeaten, so I’m not one to jump into odds-on for them to get the three points here. I do think they could quite easily bounce back though and losing their last game does lead me to think they’ll be quite up for this. Vegalta pick up almost all of their points against bottom-half clubs, so it is going to take something special for them to win here.
However, Tokyo’s inconsistent home record and especially against the lower clubs does put me off, but I want them onside a bit still. I quite like FC Tokyo Double Chance and Both Teams To Score at 21/20 (Bet365) on the bet-builder.
Both teams have seen 11 of their league clashes this season where BTTS has paid out. Although Vegalta have a drew one and lost eight record against the current top-half clubs, they scored in all bar one of those, plus they’ve scored in all away matches so far.