The international break is out of the way and there is a full card of Major League Soccer action this weekend. The 2019 season is still in its infancy, but the conference tables are already starting to give an indication of who will be the contenders and who will be the pretenders. Here are four picks from this weekend’s fixtures in MLS.
Toronto FC v New York Red Bulls
BMO Field, Friday, 29 March
After a dismal 2018, Toronto FC have started the 2019 season well, with two wins from their opening two fixtures. New York City FC, on the other hand, are still looking to move on from the loss of David Villa at the end of the 2018 campaign and have drawn their opening three games of the new season. Goals haven’t been a problem, but keeping out opposition sides has been.
The form book points to a lot of goals being scored in this one. Over 2.5 total goals have been struck in all of Toronto FC’s last nine home games, while over 2.5 total goals have been scored in 15 of New York City FC’s last 18 away games in the league. What’s more, over 2.5 total goals have been registered in the last five matches between these two teams.
1u - Over 2.5 Total Goals @ -181
LA Galaxy v Portland Timbers
Dignity Health Sports Park, Sunday 31 March
It’s been a mixed bag for the LA Galaxy over the opening few weeks of the 2019 season. However, they have been strong at home, with both of their two wins coming at Dignity Health Sports Park. The Portland Timbers, on the other hand, haven’t been afforded the luxury of a home game yet, with Providence Park undergoing construction work for the first few weeks of the season.
Last year’s MLS Cup finalists have struggled to get going, with their weaknesses brutally exposed by FC Cincinnati last time out. Indeed, Portland have conceded at least two goals in their last six away matches. Meanwhile, the LA Galaxy have scored at least two goals in 12 of their last 13 home matches, conceding in both of their two home games so far this season.
1u - Both Teams to Score @ -212
San Jose Earthquakes v Los Angeles FC
Avaya Stadium, Saturday, 30 March
The luring of Matias Almeyda from Chivas by the San Jose Earthquakes was one of the biggest moves of the off-season in MLS, but so far the former Argentinean international has suffered a difficult start to life in MLS, with the Californian side still without a single point in three games. On the other hand, Bob Bradley’s Los Angeles FC side look like the contenders many predicted them to be, winning three from four and drawing the other.
San Jose have lost 10 of their last 11 MLS matches, conceding at least twice in 12 of their last 13 league games. LAFC, as the join-top scorers in the Western Conference, boast one of the sharpest attacks in North American soccer and so they will fancy their chances of not just claiming a win at Avaya Stadium, but of making it handsome.
1.5u - LAFC handicap -1 @ +229
Vancouver Whitecaps v Seattle Sounders
BC Place, Sunday, 31 March
It might not carry the weight of the derby between Portland and Seattle, but this is a Cascadia Cup clash nonetheless. These two teams don’t like each other and so the edge of rivalry will be felt at BC Place this weekend, although one side might be feeling more dread than the other given the contrast in recent fortunes.
The Sounders have hit the ground running this season, winning three from three and scoring 10 in the process. The Whitecaps, however, have still to pick up their first point of the 2019 campaign and are leaking goals at the back. Seattle will be fairly confident of coming away from the home of their rivals with a win.
1u - Away Team to Score 2+ Goals @ -117