Soccer Sunday caps the weekend with three appetizing MLS showdowns. The first game of the day is a doozy between two of the league’s higher-scoring sides when Atlanta United go on the road to take on Portland Timbers at Providence Park.
Next up we have a couple of the league’s historical powers with LA Galaxy heading to Red Bull Arena to battle New York. The Galaxy have largely been poor this season, while the Red Bulls are coming off a shocking defeat against Philadelphia.
Finally, NYCFC fly south to clash with an in-form FC Dallas side. That could be one of the better games of the entire weekend and a potential MLS Cup Final preview.
Let’s break it all down, shall we?
The implied total for this game is set at three goals, and with good reason. We’ve got the two highest-scoring sides in the league this season going toe-to-toe. The Timbers have bagged a league-high 20 goals through their first 10 games, while expansion Atlanta aren’t far behind with 19 of their own.
Following a blazing start, though, ATL have stumbled and are currently on the outside looking in on the Eastern Conference playoff picture. They’ve won one of their last five games overall and were humbled at Yankee Stadium last week against NYCFC, 3-1. That’s now six goals they’ve allowed over just two games, and the defense won’t be in much better shape this week with key left back Greg Garza sitting out with a hip injury. Against Portland, they’ll need all the defensive help they can get.
Portland were thrashed at Avaya Stadium 3-0 by San Jose last weekend. Diego Valeri and Darlington Nagbe each missed that match with injuries, but Valeri is expected back in the lineup this week. Nagbe is officially questionable, but the American returning to the lineup would obviously provide a boost. The loss in San Jose was just the second time the Timbers have been held goalless this season.
Valeri’s return should help, and we think Portland bags a handful against a struggling Atlanta defense today.
The Galaxy battled back from a 2-0 deficit to ultimately pick up a crucial point at home against Chicago, but Curt Onalfo’s men have a lot of work in front of them if they plan to make anything of this season. The Galaxy have still won just twice all season long, but their last victory came over a month ago back on April 7th against Montreal.
Frankly, LA hasn’t been good at home or on the road. They’re just 1-3-2 at StubHub Center and 1-2-0 away from their home park. Asking them to find some form against a Red Bulls side unbeaten (4-0-1) at home this season might be asking too much. There’s just not a ton of talent here, especially compared to years past for LA.
The Red Bulls finally appeared to discover some form of their own before being outscored 5-0 in two away matches in Kansas City and Philadelphia. The loss against the Union was particularly concerning, especially considering it was the Union’s first victory of the season.
On the bright side, this is a great opportunity for New York to turn things around. This is the first match of a three-game homestand against LA, Toronto and New England.
Onalfo was encouraged with last week’s rally, but this looks like another spot for a setback for LA.
This should be a doozy. NYCFC’s high-powered, star-studded attack will be tasked with trying to break down an FCD defense that has been the stingiest in MLS to start 2017. Dallas have conceded just five goals all year and still haven’t lost a game. They easily dispatched of an overmatched Real Salt Lake team last weekend, 3-0. NYCFC, meanwhile, trounced Atlanta United, 3-1.
The win over RSL brought FCD’s unbeaten streak to 13 straight contests. They have held their opponents scoreless in seven of those games and allowed more than one goal against them just twice. Last year’s Supporters’ Shield holders seem eager to keep it for another season.
NYCFC are a team that has historically struggled on the road, but the Blues have actually put forth some impressive efforts away from Yankee Stadium this season. They’re 2-2-0 on the road this season, which isn’t amazing, but few teams in the league even have more than one away win this year.
As great as they are defensively, FC Dallas doesn’t offer a whole lot in attack. Kellyn Acosta has really emerged as a star with two goals and two assists in eight MLS contests to start the year, but their 13 tallies as a club is nothing special. NYC, meanwhile, have scored 17 and conceded 10.
A draw is very possible here, and it’ll be fascinating to see how the visitors are able to deal with the hosts’ compact defending. That’s a solid value bet.
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