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MLS Opening Weekend: Who’s your money on?

HTIOT is dipping into their toes into the wagering world

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Fire forward Robert Berić
Chicago Fire FC

Everyone alive? Everyone make it through the offseason with minimal damage? An ownership change, a logo change, a coaching change and a roster turnover all in a few months. A whirlwind of an offseason once it got started, but we see light at the end of the tunnel as the Fire are back on Sunday in Seattle.

This season I will be spinning up a new vertical here at HTIOT for those who enjoy seeing what the sportsbooks out in the desert think of MLS and the Fire. if you’re not a fan of taking your pocket change to the window and placing a friendly wager, the lines that Vegas publish can provide an additional data point you can use when evaluating this team and the rest of the league. There’s a reason the house always wins; they have some pretty smart people.

Every week, we’ll zoom in on the Fire’s game odds and then spotlight a few games that catch my eye across the league. To start, let’s take a quick look at the big picture to kick-off this season and then dive into the first weekend of games.

MLS Cup Winner

Fan Duel released their MLS Cup odds, and at the top it’s your usual cast of characters. LAFC are favorites, no surprise, at +370. For those dipping their toes for the first time into gambling, that means for every $100 you risk, you win $370 if LAFC win the MLS Cup. Atlanta United, Seattle Sounders and NYFC round out the top four favorites, all landing around +600 to +900.

When you move down the list a bit, that’s where some of the odds catch my eye. A word you’ll hear a lot in the gambling word is value. When making these types of bets, or “futures”, putting your money in a few different high value places is usually a smart play. I look at LA Galaxy at +1100 and even Minnesota United at +2500 and think those could be very interesting bets. Now I don’t think either of those teams have a shot at the Supporters’ Shield, but those two had as good of an offseason as anyone in the league and I think they have the pieces to make a run at MLS Cup.

MLS Cup is a crapshoot once the playoffs begin. These two are locks for the postseason, and I think in a two-leg playoff against either of these two teams would prove extremely difficult in the Western Conference. At those prices, I’ll take a flier on those two to win the whole thing for a large payout.

Now on to the games this weekend.

Fire +265, +.5 (Seattle -111, Draw +253) O/U 3

The opening stretch for the Fire to start the 2020 season is a gauntlet, and it begins with the defending MLS Cup champions in their building in what will prove to be a cold day in the Pacific Northwest.

I don’t like the game line (picking the win or draw) or the goal line (.5 goals) for either Chicago or Seattle. There are just too many unknowns for me to confidently say how the Fire will come out and play under Raphael Wicky. Key foundational pieces to this group’s plan came in too late to the preseason and the entire team will not be available for selection, and can’t confidently take the Fire +.5 goals, much less to win. I think they roll out an experienced, defensive lineup to try and secure a road point to open the year.

I’m looking at the total and I love the Under of 3 goals. Nico Lodeiro has a knock and Seattle played a CCL game on Thursday night, so you have to imagine there will be a significant amount of rotation from Brian Schmetzer’s side. Early season fatigue, conservative tactics and midweek games just adds up to an early season rock fight for me.

The Pick: Under 3 goals

New England +158 vs. Montreal

One more pick to close out this weekend. To be honest, I am very high on the New England Revolution this year. I could be fooled by all the hype and momentum surrounding this group, but I think they’re going to make a monster jump this year in the East and grab a top 4 playoff spot. Bruce Arena is too good of a coach in this league, Carles Gil is one of the most underrated players in North America and someone you should be watching week to week, and I think they have serious momentum headed into 2020.

On the other side, Montreal is going to struggle this year. Thierry Henry may prove to be a smart hire long term, but they simply don’t have the roster in place yet to be anything other than a bottom tier team in the Eastern Conference.

Montreal is never an easy place to play, but at +158 payout to win outright, I love New England here. The line has also dropped from New England +250 to +158, meaning a lot of people are betting on New England and the house is trying to cover their risk. I’m with them. New England announces their revival and Gustavo Bou opens up his account with a brace in Montreal and win 2-1.

The Pick: New England +158

Happy opening weekend and good luck!