MLS Odds: A Thrilling End To Rivalry Week

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MLS Rivalry Week (or ten days if you prefer accuracy) concludes this weekend with a full slate of action on Saturday and Sunday. There are a handful of really intriguing matchups and throw in the fact that many of these games feature really tense rivalries and it should be a great showcase for the league. Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting matches this weekend.

FC Dallas vs Austin FC Odds

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Austin FC has been the biggest surprise in the league this season, currently leading the Western Conference after finishing second to last in their inaugural season last year. The Verde have been in great form since the international break. Austin is unbeaten in its last six games with their only non-win in that time a 2-2 draw at home against Dallas on June 25th. 

FC Dallas is two points above the playoff line and has been heading in the opposite direction since the international break having not won since their return with three losses and three draws. They had a respectable 1-0 loss to defending MLS Cup champs NYCFC on Wednesday after an MLS-as-hell 2-2 draw against Houston in which both teams scored in second half stoppage time including the game-tying goal in the ELEVENTH minute of the bonus time.

Austin is playing some aesthetically pleasing soccer right now, but during their four-game winning streak they’re also over performing based on their xG expectation. They’ve scored 10 goals during the win streak, but their expected goals for those games was 6.3 so there’s been some good fortune involved with their winning ways. FC Dallas is hanging on to a playoff spot and with two teams who know how to get hot late in the year in Seattle and Portland hot on their heels for playoff spots, this is a bit of a desperation spot for Dallas.

The Pick

FC Dallas -107 (DraftKingsSportsbook)

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Atlanta United vs Orlando City SC Odds

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It’s been quite a week for Atlanta United. The Five Stripes suffered the worst home loss in franchise history on Saturday, a 3-0 shellacking at the hands of Austin FC in which the team was so listless that there was a closed-door team meeting that lasted an hour after the game and had captain and franchise legend Josef Martinez criticizing his teammate’s effort in the media. Atlanta bounced back with a 2-1 win against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday where the effort was much better, but it was a game they absolutely had to win. The problem they’ve had all year is the inability to build tangible progress after good performances.

The emotions should be running high against their arch rivals from Orlando. Nothing has made sense about this season for the Lions. They have 8 wins, 7 losses and 5 draws and no streaks to the good or bad. You don’t know what to expect from them from game-to-game. In their last three games they gave up five goals to a bad DC United team, beat a mediocre Miami team 1-0 and drew a bad Colorado team 1-1 in their most recent game.

Atlanta is three points out of the final playoff spot in the East and you’d have to imagine the desperation with which they played against RSL would carry over to the rivalry game against Orlando, but this is a team that has struggled with consistency this season. Atlanta dominated this rivalry early going unbeaten in its first nine matches against Orlando, but they’ve won just one in their last six against their rivals to the south. Atlanta’s defense has been particularly leaky on defense so I’m taking a swing on some big odds here.

The Pick

Draw & Both Teams To Score +340 (FanDuel Sportsbook)

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New York Red Bulls vs NYCFC Odds

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The marquee game of the weekend is the Hudson River Derby between defending MLS Cup Champions NYCFC and the New York Red Bulls. Not only is this one of the fiercest rivalries in the league, the teams are second and third in the Eastern Conference and hot on Philadelphia’s heels for the top spot in the conference. The defending champs have righted the ship a bit during this rivalry week period winning their last two games after some bumps the three previous games in which they dropped five points by allowing late goals. 

The Red Bulls stole a late win against Atlanta, beat a bad KC team and secured a draw against Cincinnati, although they were unable to find a game winner playing a man up for the final 30 minutes of the game. This is the first regular season meeting between the teams this season, but they did play an eventful game in the US Open Cup less than a month ago where the Red Bulls expanded their lead from 1-0 to a 3-0 win after Thiago Andrade got a red card. There were late shenanigans in which players on both teams were also shown red.

There is a lot of hate in this rivalry and the US Open Cup game had TEN cards given out so if/when the books open up yellow card markets I would seriously explore those. As of this writing, those markets aren’t available at the legal sportsbooks so instead of that I’m putting my support behind the “big time players make big plays in big games” axiom with my bet and taking the best player on either team to step up.

The Pick

Valentin Castellanos anytime goal scorer +160

Nashville SC vs LAFC Odds

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If the Hudson River Derby isn’t the biggest game of the weekend, it’s this one which is one of the non-rivalry games during rivalry week. LAFC is a point behind Austin for the top spot in the West and Nashville is in third, miles behind the top two and ahead of Real Salt Lake on goal differential. 

This is a “prove yourself” spot for Nashville who wants to establish themselves as a contender in the conference. They suffered a really confounding 4-1 loss to Charlotte last Saturday, but rebounded with a win against Seattle in the middle of the week and another win against LAFC would certainly put the sour taste of the Charlotte game in the rearview mirror. 

The LAFC machine keeps rolling on for the most part. They’re 5-1-1 in their last seven games with wins over the Red Bulls, FC Dallas and arch rival Galaxy. The draw was a respectable one at Seattle. The loss at Vancouver was odd, but MLS is nothing if not a league where really odd, unexplainable losses happen. This is a team with a great deal of ambition year in and year out and getting a win on the road at the third place team in the conference would be another feather in their impressive cap.

This game is a big one for Nashville and playing at home I’d expect them to play well. LAFC didn’t play in the middle of the week, but that was because of the cross-country travel for this game so I think the rest advantage is going to be negligible. Nashville makes their money on defense and they’ll have to be stout defensively to have a shot in this game.

The Pick

Under 2.5 (-103)

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Dan Weiner

Hailing from Atlanta and attending college at the University of Texas, Dan is passionate about sports, particularly college football and soccer. He's a diehard Atlanta pro sports and Texas Longhorns fan. He likes every sport and will watch anything and everything the weirder the better. He joined Betsperts after an 11 year career in television production at ESPN.

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