Another weekend of Major League Soccer action is upon us and as usual there’s no shortage of stories and plot lines to draw upon. It’s Rivalry Weekend in North America’s top flight which means there are derbies everywhere you look - Atlanta at Orlando, Portland playing host to Seattle, El Trafico… here are four picks for the weekend in MLS.
Orlando City v Atlanta United
Exploria Stadium, Friday August 23
On Rivalry Weekend, this is a contest that holds its own against any other in the North American game. There is bad blood between Orlando City and Atlanta United and this should be another compelling episode of a rivalry that has grown with every passing season. The visiting team to Central Florida will fancy their chances.
Atlanta United come into this match having won five of their last six league matches. They also knocked Orlando City out of the US Open Cup just two weeks ago and have won their last five games against the Lions in all competitions. Atlanta have also scored two or more goals in five of their last six meetings with Orlando. There is no doubting who the form book favours.
0.5 - Back Atlanta United To Score 3+ Goals @ +240
Portland Timbers v Seattle Sounders
Providence Park, Friday August 23
While MLS has witnessed a number of new rivalries spring up in recent years, this remains the league’s marquee contest. The Seattle Sounders come into this game in poor form having failed to win any of their last four matches. Meanwhile, the Portland Timbers suffered a 2-0 defeat to Atlanta United in their last outing.
There could be goals in this one. Seattle have conceded two or more goals in each of their last four MLS matches, while there has been over 2.5 goals in Portland’s last four games. Home advantage should give the Timbers a slight edge, but these are two teams who have spent the last few weeks scratching around for some form.
1.5 - Back Over 2.5 Total Goals @ -192
New York City FC v New York Red Bulls
Yankee Stadium, Saturday August 24
Just three points separate these two rivals in the Eastern Conference standings and indeed, there is a lot that links New York City FC and the New York Red Bulls this season. There have been at least 2.5 goals in NYC FC’s last seven league games and they have scored three or more goals in five of their last six matches at Yankee Stadium.
Meanwhile, the Red Bulls have conceded at least three times in five of their last six matches on the road. The Harrison club have had the edge in meetings between these two rivals in years gone by, but this will be a tough task for Chris Armas and his players.
1u - Back Draw @ +290
Los Angeles FC v LA Galaxy
Banc of California Stadium, Sunday August 25
With these two teams battling it out at the top of the Western Conference, there’s an argument to be made that this is the most relevant rivalry in North American soccer right now. However, there’s no denying that Los Angeles FC have the edge as things stand, with Bob Bradley’s team a massive 20 points clear of their rivals in the standings.
Indeed, LAFC have won 10 of their last 11 matches at Banc of California Stadium and have scored at least four goals in each of their last four games in front of their own fans. What’s more, the LA Galaxy have lost their last four matches away from home. The omens are not good for the visitors. However, they do tend to keep their best performances for matches against their rivals.
0.75u - Back Half-Time/Full-Time Los Angeles FC/Los Angeles FC @ +112