There were 38 goals scored in the nine MLS games last weekend in Week 2, a robust average of 4.22 gpg (5, 3, 6, 7, 3, 4, 3, 4, 3) with all Overs with Totals set at at 2½ winning…the Crew emerged victorious over the Montréal Impact late on a PK in the 4th minute of Stoppage Time by Gyasi Zardes…Zardes already has as many goals with the Crew (3) as he did all of last 2017 MLS Regular Season with the LA Galaxy (2)…MLS had its best week ever vs. Liga MX in CONCACAF Champions League play, with the US professional league seeing the New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC having already advanced to the CONCACAF CL Semifinals with the Seattle Sounders leading Chivas Guadalajara, 1-0 on aggregate heading into Wednesday’s Quarterfinals Leg 2 from Mexico…before the Red Bulls and Supporters’ Shield-holders Reds advanced, only two teams from the MLS had ever made it past the Knockout Round in 20 all-time matchups against Mexican opponents…expansion club Los Angeles FC is off to a nice 2-0-0 start with both Wins on the Road (at Seattle, at Real Salt Lake) in its first two MLS matches ever and the most goals (6) in the league…the two clubs who have met in the L2 MLS Cups—defending champions Toronto FC and the 2016 champion Seattle Sounders—are the only two teams in MLS yet to score a goal.
Poor old DC United is playing 12 of its first 14 fixtures on the Road with a new Audi Field (above) being built and not ready until Summer (July 14) meaning it will host the Dynamo in its first “Home” game this Saturday (March 17) at the Maryland SoccerPlex and then welcome the Crew to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, MD next month (April 14)…Miami is getting an MLS team and David Beckham will be an owner with the club scheduled to start play in 2020 with Nashville, Sacramento, San Antonio and Phoenix all also interested…will Fernando Torres (Atlético Madrid) ultimately end up in the MLS, maybe with David Villa at NYCFC? Or will veteran Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United) end up in Lalaland someday playing for the Galaxy?
Saturday, March 17, 2018
>Gyasi Zardes and the Crew (2-0-0, 5 GF-2 GA) head to Chester and Talon Energy Stadium in MLS Matchweek 3 to face the host Philadelphia Union (1-0-0, 2 GF-0 GA) in an early season Eastern Conference meeting between unbeaten teams on Saturday afternoon (MLS LIVE, 6abc, CW Columbus , Spectrum Sports OHIO , BCSN2). After knocking off the defending MLS Cup-champions Toronto FC, 2-0 at BMO Field in Canada in Week 1, the Crew escaped with a Win and 3 points on a Zardes PK goal in the 4th minute of Stoppage Time at Home against the Impact in Week 2 in a game where the visitors deserved at least 1 point had to go back through Customs with 0. The horror. Looking at the L5 meetings in this series, we see that CJ Sapong (1), Anthony Fontana (1 goal) and Philadelphia have gone 4-0-1 (W-D-L), outscoring the Crew 10-5 in the process with 3 of the matches played at Columbus. The Crew notched a Clean Sheets in the last meeting (PHI 3-0 CLB), last July, just 4 days after the Crew blanked the Union in Ohio (CLB 1-0 PHI). Expect Federico Higuaín (2 goals), Zardes (3 goals) and the newlook Black & Gold (25/1 to win MLS Cup, Intertops) to score (a couple goals or maybe more) here.
Final Score Prediction: Union 1 Crew 2
MLS Free Picks: Crew +185, Over 2½ -167 (Intertops)
>David Villa (1 goal) and NYCFC (2-0-0, 4 GF-1 GA) welcome Orlando City SC (0-1-1, 2 GF-3 GA) to Yankee Stadium and the Bronx borough of New York City for an Eastern Conference fixture on Saturday (Univision, MLS Live, Twitter). In Matchweek 1, NYCFC won at Sporting Kansas City with GK Sean Johnson (5 saves) registering the Clean Sheet in a 2-0 win followed by a 2-1 win in their Home opener last weekend in Week 2 against the LA Galaxy who were playing a long, long way from home.
Taking a handicapping look at the L5 meetings (OCSC 0-3 NYCFC, NYCFC 1-2 OCSC, OCSC 1-0 NYCFC, OCSC 2-1 NYCFC, NYCFC 2-2 OCSC) in this still relatively new series—NYCFC and Orlando City (33/1 to win 2018 MLS Cup, Intertops) both expanded into the MLS in 2015—we see that Head Coach Patrick Vieira and NYCFC (6/1 to win 2018 MLS Cup, Intertops) are 2-1-2 against OCSC with both sides scoring 7 goals with 4 Overs and 1 Under in the Totals market. With the jagged corners of a stadium built for MLB and a Total set at 2½ (Over, -167, Intertops) backing playmaker extraordinaire Villa, Maximiliano Morález (1 goal), Jesús Medina (1 goal) and the hosts along with the Over is the Rx this St. Patrick’s Day and laying a goal (NYCFC -1 +130, Intertops) may be the preferred route for some. It could be a long afternoon for new (former Whitecaps) OCSC GK David Ousted.
Final Score Prediction: NYCFC 3 Orlando City 1
MLS Free Picks: NYCFC -200, Over 2½ -167 (Intertops)
>After getting blasted at Houston in Week 1, 4-0, Atlanta FC (1-1-0, 0 GF-4 GA) rebounded nicely in Week 2, topping DC United in their Home opener last Sunday (March 11) by a 3-1 scoreline as the hosts rallied for 2 scores in the 2nd Half to get the 3 points and keep the record-setting crowd happy. On Saturday (TSN2 , MLS LIVE , FOX Sports South), Atlanta United—who went 15-9-10 in their successful expansion season in 2017 (70 GS-40 GA)—welcomes the unbeaten Vancouver Whitecaps (2-0-0, 4 GF-2 GA) to the Peach State for a big inter-conference showdown between two very unfamiliar foes. In their only meeting ever played at Vancouver last season, the Whitecaps sent Atlanta United back to The States pointless and weepy following a 3-1 victory, but Atlanta United is a completely different animal Home then on the Road and poured in 48 goals at Home in the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium last year—the most by any MLS club since 2010—and with the addition of Darlington Nagbe (Timbers), this club is so stacked that Head Coach Gerardo Martino will have problems finding Playing Time for all of these talented and young guys who have a nose for the net. Goals matter in the MLS. And goals just wanna have fun.
Josef Martínez (1 goal), Héctor Villalba (1 goal), Miguel Almirón (1 goal), newbie Nagbe, 19-year-old Brandon Vazquez and 23-year-old Jamaican Romario Williams gives Martino an embarrassment of riches, but with four unbeaten teams in the East, expect one-loss Atlanta FC (8/1 to win 2018 MLS Cup, Intertops) to come out really pressing the attack early (again) here and backing the First Half Over may be a good idea for the really serious (ATL led DCU 1-0 at Halftime in Matchweek 2) as the Whitecaps (25/1 to win 2018 MLS Cup, Intertops) have some guys who can score in Kei Kamara (2 goals), Brek Shea (1 goal) and Alphonso Davies (1 goal). The Three Stripes have ageless American GK Brad Guzan, a solid owner in Arthur Blank (owner of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons who play in the same new building) and a rabid fan base seemingly intent on breaking MLS attendance records—they had an MLS-high 72,035 last week—and found the back of the net 70 times in its inaugural MLS season in 2017. Totals in Atlanta United Home matches should probably be set at 3, but until the linemakers and sportsbooks get hip to that reality, backing Atlanta FC Over at 2½ (Over -167, Intertops) seems to be a fairly wise approach at least for now.
Final Score Prediction: Atlanta United FC 3 Whitecaps 2
MLS Free Picks: Atlanta United FC -182, Over 2½ -167 (Intertops)