Welcome to Matchday 16.
This weekly (sometimes bi-weekly) article previews the upcoming MLS action through a betting and fantasy lens. Before we get into Wednesday’s picks, let’s recap our results from the previous matchday.
We had another incredible weekend hitting on three of our four selections.
As a result, we finished with + 4.32 units on the week. Despite going a perfect four for four two weeks ago, this past weekend was our biggest net gain on the season. As a result, our season total has climbed to + 6.03 units.
On to Wednesday’s picks…
Inter Miami v. New York Red Bulls
It has been a season of streaks for Inter Miami – two wins, six losses, three wins, followed by three-straight losses. At home, it has been a similarly hectic string of results (4W-0D-3L). However, the record means the Herons are still batting above .500 at DRV PNK Stadium.
On the other side, the Red Bulls will be fighting an extreme travel schedule. After playing Saturday night in Seattle, RBNY made the 2,700-mile journey to South Florida.
This grueling schedule comes on the back of a breakneck pace of matches. The match against Miami will be their seventh in the last three-and-half weeks with one more coming on Saturday. Given the fixture congestion, rotation is likely with a focus on the weekend’s home match.
Despite Inter Miami’s failings, there is value here. At +180, the books are overvaluing the Red Bulls, as they tend to do, based on a gaudy expected goal difference. Combined with the travel and rest concerns for New York, Inter Miami has closer to a coin-flip chance of coming out victorious.
Inter Miami Win (+180) 1.0 unit
Sporting Kansas City v. FC Dallas
Sporting Kanas City started the season with a historically bad attack. In a lot of ways, it was to be expected given the number of key pieces missing to start the season.
Since the return and reintegration of Alan Pulido, Gadi Kinda, and Johnny Russell, Sporting have been a much more dangerous side. They have scored multiple goals in three of their last five matches.
Just as important for this bet, they are still conceding goals with regularity. Over that same span, they have kept just one clean sheet.
The defensive issues have gone from bad to worse. A week ago, Tim Melia went down with an injury that will keep him out for the next few months. Peter Vermes has not quite settled on who will replace the longtime starter. Both John Pulskamp and Kendall McIntosh have started multiple matches this season. Pulskamp, 22, is still very inexperienced, and McIntosh, 29, only has six MLS starts under his belt with only a sporadic history in USL. Either solution does not inspire much confidence.
F.C. Dallas has had similar problems preventing goals. With just three clean sheets this season, Los Toros always give the opposition a chance at a result. Furthermore, those clean sheets came against a few of the worst attacking teams this season (Minnesota, Miami, and Austin). There is nothing in their performances this season to suggest that they will be able to keep Sporting, with its bevy of attacking talent, off the board.
Ultimately, I predict Sporting will emerge victorious by a 2-1 type of scoreline. However, I have swung back and forth on how I wanted to approach this match and guard against the real possibility that Dallas keeps this to a 1-1 draw or finds multiple goals against a weak SKC defense. Therefore, I am going to split my bet in half.
If Dallas wins or draws while conceding a goal, the straight “Both Team To Score” bet will return us closer to the break-even mark. Yet, if Sporting comes away with a win while giving up a goal to Dallas, both bets will pay out.
Both Teams To Score – “YES” (-135) 0.5 unit
BTTS + SKC Win (+300) 0.5 unit
Valair Shabilla is red hot with a perfect three-for-three record since joining our weekly picks. At this point, it is like sitting back and watching Hany Mukhtar reel off a multitude of stepovers before going top bins. Valair’s pick-em greatness is simply inevitable. Now, that I have stroked your ego, take it away Valair!
Valair: Thanks, Chris! The last few weeks have been great, and with a hype man like you, I feel invincible. I would like you to hype me up just like that in other aspects of life, but that’s a topic for another day. For now, let’s get to work, I am taking Atlanta United v. New England Revolution.
New England started the season extremely well, for a while they looked like a team challenging for the shield. Then, injuries struck. In their last three games, they’ve given up eight goals and gained only one point. Things got so bad that Bruce Arena started playing with a back three. Unfortunately for the Revs, that didn’t stop the goals from pouring in.
Atlanta have been somewhat inconsistent in terms of results, however, their goal-scoring form has been incredible. They are tied for first in the league in goals and World Cup winner, Thiago Almada, leads the assists table with eight. Giorgos Giakoumakis continues to have a great start to his MLS career with eight goals thus far. He also scored three goals in his last three matches despite not playing for large chunks of time.
I can’t bring myself to pick Atlanta or dare predict an MLS result. What I can tell you is that Giakoumakis will be happy to face a depleted and mistake-prone New England defense. He has proven that as long as the service is there, he will score. Which is why I think picking him as an anytime scorer is fair and realistic, especially with those odds.
Anytime Scorer: Giorgos Giakoumakis (+115) 1 Unit
MLS Fantasy Tip of the Week
While Nashville will be relaxing at home, the rest of MLS will be busy with midweek action. That means another Double Game Week for the vast majority of clubs.
To save you the hassle, I am providing the list of seven teams that will play at home both on Wednesday and later this weekend.
- Columbus Crew
- Inter Miami
- Philadelphia Union
- Austin FC
- Seattle Sounders
- Vancouver Whitecaps
The bulk of your team should be collectively formed from these teams.
For me, one of those must-roster players is Dániel Gazdag. The Hungarian playmaker again finds himself in the top ten list for total points this fantasy season.
After a slow start, both he and Philadelphia’s offense, in general, have been heating up in recent weeks. Since bowing out of the Concacaf Champions League, Philly has won four of their last five matches. In their last two contests, the Union have scored three times in each game with Gazdag picking three of his own goals in that span.
Last year, Gazdag tallied 22 goals and 10 assists. Currently, his pace aims for an even loftier mark. With seven goals and seven assists through 13 matches, Gazdag is on pace for 36.6 goal contributions.
This week, Gazdag and the Union line up at home against Charlotte FC and CF Montréal. Charlotte’s win this past week away to the Galaxy aside, both of these teams have been defensively dreadful on the road in 2023.
Montréal “leads” the league for the most goals conceded away from home (19). On a per-match basis, Montréal and Charlotte have yielded the third and fourth most expected goals, respectively.
With an expected rate of conceding already hovering around two goals per match, I fully expect Dániel Gazdag and the rest of the Union attack to find plenty of opportunities to cue up the #DOOP goal celebration.
Please note that this article contains information related to sports betting wagers, which may not be legal or appropriate in all jurisdictions. The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice.
Sports betting can be a fun and exciting form of entertainment, but it can also be addictive and lead to financial problems. If you or someone you know is struggling with a gambling addiction, help is available. In Tennessee, you can contact the Tennessee Red Line at 1-800-889-9789 for confidential and free support, resources, and referrals to professional services. The National Council on Problem Gambling operates a national gambling addiction helpline in the United States. The helpline can be reached at 1-800-522-4700, and it provides confidential help and support to individuals struggling with problem gambling.
We encourage our readers to bet responsibly and to only gamble with money that they can afford to lose. It is important to set limits on time and money spent on betting and to never chase losses. If you feel that your gambling is becoming a problem, seek help immediately.