Welcome to Matchday 13, the first, midweek slate of games in this 2023 season.
This weekly (sometimes bi-weekly) article previews Wednesday’s MLS action through a betting and fantasy lens. Before we get into Wednesday’s picks, let’s recap last week.
Last week, our all-draws strategy paid off as Nashville’s 1-1 draw away to D.C. United turned us a profit. The other three contests played out generally as predicted. Yet, they failed to end in a draw and did not amplify our winnings.
As a result, we finished + 0.90 units on the week. Overall, we keep chipping away at our small season deficit which is down to just – 1.53 units.
On to tonight’s picks…
Philadelphia Union v. D.C. United
After a slow start in MLS play, Philadelphia are beginning to return to their former selves. The Union have won their last three matches in league play and have now put both continental and domestic cup campaigns behind them. With distractions set aside, Philly can focus solely on run at a Supporters’ Shield.
Over the last few years, there has been no team better at home than the Union. Since 2020, their record at Subaru Park is 35W-9D-4L. It is no easy feat to pick up a point on the banks of the Delaware.
D.C. United comes to town on the back of a much better run of form, 3W-1D-1L. However, the recent record flatters D.C. The three wins came against Montréal, Orlando, and Charlotte. While the Impact and the Crown have been better as of late, neither side presents the same challenge as Philadelphia at home.
Wayne Rooney will also need to navigate this match missing several key starters. Taxi Fountas withdrew early on Saturday with an injury and is doubtful for Wednesday’s away trip. Christian Benteke missed the last match with a knock. While he may return, a minutes restriction is likely in the cards. Further, Pedro Santos and Andy Najar remain absent.
D.C. United can call on some talented academy kids to fill in. But you aren’t going to bet on them to come away with a result away to Philadelphia.
Philadelphia Win (-155) 1.5 units
Charlotte FC v. Chicago Fire
After a poor start, Charlotte FC has turned things around. The Crown are 3W-1D-1L in their last five matches. Their attacking patterns are sharper and Karol Świderski returned to a central role. On the field, Charlotte appears to be back to the side that ended 2022. It is easy to forget how good Charlotte were at home last year (10W-1D-6L).
Chicago scored a big win last week after firing Ezra Hendrickson. While the Fire certainly appeared to be a rejuvenated squad, the victory came against St. Louis City. The newcomers sprinted out of the gates, but have stumbled since. Beating City is less of an accomplishment than it once was, especially when you generate only 0.9 xG at home.
Charlotte is coming off their own high. A club-first win over regional rivals, Atlanta United, should buoy Charlotte’s confidence. Enzo Copetti’s return from yellow-card suspension won’t hurt either. I like Charlotte for even money at home.
Charlotte Win (+100) 1.0 unit
If you are forcing me to bet on Nashville…
There is not much to this pick, and there does not have to be.
Nashville is the best defensive team in the league and Inter Miami is the league’s worst attack on the road (0.74 xG per match).
Even if Walker Zimmerman does not make his return, Nashville has shown the ability to limit scoring chances in his absence. The ‘Yotes have yielded just 0.9 xG, in total, across the last two league matches without their captain. The bet here is another Nashville clean sheet in the Castle.
Nashville to Win to Nil (+165) 1.0 unit
If you fail to clear the first defender on too many occasions, it is time to bring on someone else to take a corner kick.
In that vein, we have a new wrinkle to our picks this week. My colleague here at Broadway Sports Media, Valair Shabilla, is coming on the field to see if he can place a wagering win on a silver platter for you to head in for a score.
Without further ado, take it away Valair…
Valair: Thanks for the introduction. I am going to take on Real Salt Lake v. Portland Timbers.
After starting the season 1W-2D-4L, things have looked much better for the Timbers since they handed the Sounders a 4-1 pasting on Matchday 8. Since then they have gone 2W-1D-1L with their only loss coming against Supporters Shield contender, FC Cincinnati.
Portland are unbeaten in the last three, but perhaps the biggest positive from this run has been club-record signing Evander, finding form. Injuries and playing out of position have kept him from performing at his best until the last three matches where he scored three times and assisted twice.
While the Timbers are finding form, Real Salt Lake have not been able to find any rhythm this season. Their overall record is 3W-2D-6L. While that might not be the worst, it certainly isn’t good. They have failed to score in their last three games, losing the last contest 3-0 to LAFC at home. They have the league’s worst goal difference (-10) and have conceded the most goals in the Western Conference (20).
Defensively, Portland are not doing great either, conceding 19 goals thus far. However, with RSL’s defensive record, Evander and the rest of the Timbers will be salivating for this midweek opportunity.
I can’t bring myself to choose Portland outright, so I talked myself down to betting on the double chance of a Portland win or tie.
Portland Double Chance (-110) 1.0 unit
MLS Fantasy Tip of the Week
It has taken us two-and-a-half months, but we have finally reached our first Double Game Week of the MLS Fantasy season. All but four clubs will play two matches during this fantasy week.
For those new to MLS Fantasy, a Double Game Week allows you two bites at the apple to amass points.
Players who play in two games in a single gameweek will collect the total points from both games. For example: If a player plays twice, scoring 5 points in the first match, then 8 points in the second match, he will contribute 13 points to your team score for that game week.
With a Double Game Week, the most important key is determining which clubs have the most favorable matchups. In that pursuit, the simplest factor to target is taking notice of which clubs are at home for both matches this week.
Using the table below, you can begin to hone in on those teams that you want to stack up on while building out your roster.
By targeting those clubs with back-to-back home matches, you will set yourself up for success this week.
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