Matchday 17: MLS Wagers and Fantasy Tips

Welcome to Matchday 17!

This weekly (sometimes bi-weekly) article previews the upcoming MLS action through a betting and fantasy lens. Before we get into this weekend’s picks, let’s recap our results from the previous matchday. 

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Valair and I kept the good times rolling with another profitable night on Wednesday. We hit on two of our three selections as Giorgos Giakoumakis found his way onto the scoresheet and Sporting Kansas City delivered my predicted 2-1 win. 

As a result, we finished with + 2.02 unit profit. With another winning matchday, our season total keeps climbing with our overall profit up to  + 8.05 units. 

On to this weekend’s picks…

Seattle Sounders v. Portland Timbers

It may not be a sponsored #RivalryWeek™ in MLS, but we will be treated to the deepest rivalry the league has to offer on Saturday afternoon as Portland travels to Seattle.

Portland brings in a four-match winning streak in this Cascadia Cup rivalry.  In fact, the Timbers have not lost in Seattle since 2017 (6W-2D-0L). For whatever reason, it is simply a contest that the Timbers always seem to find an extra gear that Seattle have not matched.

The injury bug has bit Seattle hard this season. They are currently missing Christian Roldan and Jordan Morris due to injury. As such, the Sounders have lost three of their last four home matches. There is hope on the horizon. João Paulo will return from red card suspension while Raúl Ruidíaz and Kelyn Rowe made substitute appearances on Wednesday. With critical pieces returning, the home form should start to turn around for the Sounders.

However, Portland, having not played on Wednesday, possess a significant rest advantage and recent history on their side. Even if it does not make sense in the context of the larger seasons, Gio Savarese seems to have Brian Schmetzer’s number. Given the returning pieces for Seattle, I won’t go all the way out on the limb for the Timbers. However, I do like the odds of them earning a result. 

Portland Double Chance, Win or Tie (+110)                1.0 unit

St. Louis CITY SC v. Houston Dynamo

Yes, St. Louis CITY have benefitted an awful lot from lucky breaks that have gone their way and the underlying numbers suggest that they will eventually regress to the mean. However, taking advantage of fortunate situations is a skill in itself.

As many fellow Tennesseans may know, a maxim of sports is “Play for and make the breaks. When one comes your way—SCORE.” General Neyland’s game maxim applies just as well to this version of football as it does to the American version. To St. Louis’ credit, they have pounced on and converted the mistakes made by their opponents. 

On Wednesday, Houston made a whole lot of mistakes. The Whitecaps battered the Dynamo with six goals, four of which came prior to Nelson Quiñónes’ red card. It probably was not a pleasant 2,000-mile flight home.

The loss was just the latest in a string of poor road results for the Dynamo (0W-2D-5L). For all the belief that Ben Olsen as a pragmatic coach would help the Dyanmo grind out results on the road, it has not materialized. They have the league’s worst expected goals against on the road (1.96 xGA).  

With a full week’s rest and not having traveled across the continent, St. Louis will certainly have the advantage of fresher legs. They will also have one of the league’s best atmospheres behind them. 

Until their winning ways stop, I am going to keep rolling with the newcomers. As only one of St. Louis’ seven home matches has ended with less than 3 goals scored, I am going to tack on the “Over” bet to another St. Louis home win. 

SGP: St. Louis CITY Win + Over 2.5 Goals (+200)          1.0 Unit 

Valair’s Corner

I am not quite sure that Valair Shabilla shouldn’t quit his job and become a professional MLS gambler. It is a risky life, but boy does he seem cut out for it. Since joining as a co-author, he is 4-0 on his picks with no end in sight. (Editor’s note: Valair has been widely referred to as the James Hozlhauer of MLS betting).

Let’s see what he has in store for us this weekend. Take it away, Valair!

Valair: It has been my dream since childhood to be a professional MLS gambler and every published article has pushed me closer. This round, I am taking New York City FC v. New England Revolution. 

I don’t really know what’s going on with NYCFC, they looked good for a couple of matches, but largely they’ve been underwhelming. The side is currently winless in six and have lost the last two games at home 3-1. To be fair, both of those losses came against the first and third-ranked teams in the East. However, it isn’t getting any easier this weekend as they host the fourth-ranked team in the East at Yankee Stadium.

As we discussed last matchday, the Revs are having a tough time with injuries. Their last couple of games have been an emotional rollercoaster and both ended 3-3. They have one win in the last five, but those games are averaging four goals each. They are tied for third-most goals in the East and the attack seems unaffected by the defensive issues.

With both teams going through rough times and the Revs great goalscoring form, I would like to focus on the goals rather than the result. Things haven’t been great for the Pigeons, but they’ve scored in every single home match this season. I am counting on them to continue that and for the Revs to score at least two. I also wouldn’t be surprised if NYCFC won 2-1. Regardless, I am expecting at least three goals in this match. 

Goals: Over 2.5 (-130)                    1.0 unit

If you are forcing me to bet on Nashville…

Nashville SC travels to the Big D this weekend. Okay, it will be 30 minutes north in Frisco, but close enough. It kicks off a hellacious June for NSC as they will play four of their next five matches away from Tennessee. 

The opponent, F.C. Dallas, had been undefeated in their previous five until succumbing to Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday night at Children’s Mercy Park. Los Toros return home on the weekend where they have been excellent this season (4W-2D-1L). Despite the stellar home record, the underlying numbers paint a picture of matches that have been much more even affairs. In four of those seven matches, Dallas either trailed or only had 0.1 more expected goals than their opponent. It suggests that a few of those wins could have easily resulted in a draw. 

Unlike Dallas, Nashville had Wednesday off – a rare break in a month of fixture congestion. NSC comes into Saturday undefeated in their last seven matches. However, only two of those games came away from GEODIS Park. Those trips were to Charlotte F.C. and D.C. United, hardly the world-beaters of MLS.  For all of Nashville’s recent success, this squad still plays quite conservatively on the road. Their expected goals for and against tally fall right in line with the expectation of playing the game to a low-scoring draw (0.8 xGF / 0.91 xGA).

As of publishing, my book is pricing a straight-up “Draw” bet is running at +225, a decent return. However, I can chase an extra 1.5-unit win by focusing only on a 0-0 or 1-1 draw. Therefore, my Nashville-related bet this week is a Same Game Parlay pairing a “Draw” bet with “Under 2.5 Goals”. 

SGP: DRAW + Under 2.5 goals. (+380)               1.0 unit

MLS Fantasy Tip of the Week

The MLS Fantasy week is already underway. I hope your week is off to a strong start. 

My one tip for the week is to not make my mistake. I lost track of time Wednesday night and forgot to check starting lineups before the Pacific Coast matches started. As a result, I inadvertently left Ranko Veselinović in my starting lineup. Big mistake. 

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.

Author: Chris IveyChris is a senior writer covering Nashville SC. His writings focus on the team at large and often navigate the complexity of roster building around the myriad of MLS rules. Outside of Broadway Sports Media, Chris resides in Knoxville and is a licensed attorney. Beyond NSC, he is always willing to discuss Tennessee football and basketball, Coventry City, and USMNT. Follow Chris on Twitter

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