Set pieces, set pieces and more set pieces.
That was the story of our Week 1 picks that went 0-1-1 and lost us some money to end our weekend. New England gave up a soft corner kick and had a free kick goal taken off the board by VAR, all while looking toothless against a Montreal back 5 that found success hitting them on the counter for 90 minutes.
The Fire gave up a carbon copy of Montreal’s first goal to drop a point in Seattle and push our bet of 3 goals. These two clubs face off on a cold day in Boston on Saturday and I have a feeling there will be quite a few goals coming in Gillette.
Fire vs. Revolution (Fire +236, Draw +265, Fire +.5, O/U 3)
Let’s start with last week: This Fire team was more exciting to watch going forward than they have been in a very long time. They looked crisp in their movement through the middle third of the field and had very specific pattern plays to break down a good Seattle team. Wicky’s game plan was to work through Medran and the midfield three to spring the wingers behind Seattle’s outside backs, having success but lacking the final product to break the game open.
That being said, this game should have gone over the 3-goal total line and we were lucky to break even on the bet. The backline was shaky, and Miguel Ibarra could have hit the total of 3 goals by himself in the first 35 minutes. The biggest concern for the Fire heading into this week has to be the right back position. Brandt Bronico is valuable utility player on the roster this year, just not at right back. He provided good width and joined the attack, but the game flipped on its head when Jordan Morris came on and punished the Fire for not having a true defender flanking Johan Kappelhof.
That’s where I think the line of O/U 3 goals is too small. The Revolution will most likely be without Carles Gil and will slide Gustavo Bou in the middle of the park again, but he loves to drift wide to find space. Between Bou, DeJuan Jones and Teal Bunbury, the Revolution started most of their effective attacking movement on what will be the Fire’s right-hand side, and they will have more space to exploit than they did last week. (Player Position Map via Whoscored)
Both teams are missing attacking talent but I think this is going to be a shootout. Between the space these teams will have on the flanks and the early season errors they have shown they are vulnerable to commit; we’re going to see at least 4 goals. I lean a 2-2 draw for the result but will be putting money on the Over.
The Pick: Over 3 goals
Houston vs. Kansas City (Houston +399, Houston +1, O/U3)
Let’s start in Kansas City as we whip around the rest of the league. Did you see the xG from the Sporting game last week? They scored three goals on .52 xG and the numbers say they should have given up more than just a single goal at the back. That’s deadly and efficient finishing, which I think Kansas City will continue to do a lot of this year, and you will most likely see higher total lines on their games as we get into the summer.
Sporting threw a lot of numbers forward and kept possession in the Whitecaps’ half, and I think Mauro Manotas will punish this group on the break more than Vancouver did. Pulido vs. Manotas will be a dream center forward match-up to watch and I expect goals, and lots of them.
The Pick: Over 3 goals
Seattle vs. Columbus (Columbus +376, Columbus +1, O/U 2.5)
These lines surprised me. Seattle is heavily favored as Columbus comes to town this weekend. Don’t get me wrong, even without Nico Lodeiro this Seattle team is legit and Columbus played against a 10-man side for 90 minutes last week, but Columbus +376 is a pretty massive underdog. For context, the Fire last week were +265 underdog and I think Columbus is a more put together group than the Fire are at this point.
These lines surprised me so much that it has scared me off from playing the side, or picking a result, because it feels like the guys in the desert know something I don’t. That doesn’t mean I don’t love the over though. Lucas Zelarayan is the real deal. This Seattle team can create chances without Nico Lodeiro in the starting XI and 2.5 on the total line feels low. Someone wins 2-1, but there will be 3 goals. That’s right; cash another Over.
The Pick: Over 2.5 goals
Minnesota vs. San Jose (Minnesota +284, Minnesota +.5, O/U 3)
If you read my MLS Cup odds preview last week you know I am hot on Minnesota and they didn’t have an issue with Portland last week. They looked dangerous on the counter and solid enough in the back to pick up all 3 points in their opener at one of the tougher places to play in the league.
San Jose had some late game heroics to rescue a point at home against TFC, but I was less than impressed with their start. I understand San Jose won’t allow the Loons to counterattack in the same manner that Portland did, but I can’t see how this game isn’t a pick ‘em. A win or draw at San Jose feels very realistic for Minnesota.
The Pick: Minnesota +.5
Good luck this weekend!