MLS Picks and Predictions For Saturday April 22

by Taylor Smith
on April 22, 2017

Following one game Wednesday and another on Friday, the MLS schedule opens up with a healthy seven-game offering on Saturday. Two games really jump off the page, as we have a couple of battles between frontrunners in the respective conferences.

Columbus Crew, currently atop the east, will head to New Jersey to take on a New York Red Bulls team coming off a solid win last weekend. In the west, we have stingy Sporting Kansas City heading south to Frisco, Texas, where they’ll take on defending Supporters’ Shield champs FC Dallas.
It’ll be a fun day for some soccer action, so here’s our breakdown of how the slate will play out.

Montreal Impact (+0.5)
VS
Philadelphia Union (-0.5)
Total: 2.5
  • Moneyline: Montreal +285, Philadelphia -105, Draw +250
  • Betting Value: Leaning toward the under.

These are some tough times for the Union. They’re the lone remaining MLS side that has yet to get into the win column this season, and they haven’t claimed a victory in any of their last 14 matches overall. In case you couldn’t tell, that is very, very bad. They were beaten at home 2-0 last week by NYCFC, and have now scored just five goals while conceding 11.

Surely, there’s some head on the seat of head coach Jim Curtin. He may have to make some changes in order to get the best out of his side, and he reportedly replaced Keegan Rosenberry with Raymon Gaddis in the starting XI during Wednesday’s practice. After scoring 12 goals and dishing out six assists last season, midfielder Chris Pontius has been largely absent so far in 2017. Through six games, he’s still looking for his first goal and has picked up just a single assist.

Montreal got Ignacio Piatti back from injury, and with it came a much-needed win over Atlanta at home. Despite not playing at full health, Piatti was quite clearly still the man out there for the Impact and was a key cog in the victory. This team nearly made it all the way to the MLS Cup Final last year, but they’re currently 10th in the east, ahead of only Philly.

We haven’t seen the Union put together a sustained, positive effort over the course of 90 minutes yet this season. Any lapse can be dangerous against a team like Montreal that likes to play on the counter. This has the feel of a low-scoring draw.

Pick

Montreal
1
Philadelphia
1
San Jose Earthquakes (+0.5)
VS
Houston Dynamo (-0.5)
Total: 2.5
  • Moneyline: San Jose +300, Houston -105, Draw +235
  • Betting Value: Goals are coming. Take the over.

The Earthquakes are faced with the unenviable task of playing back-to-back road matches over the course of four days. They did well to earn a point at New England on Wednesday night, and now they’ll have their work cut out for them against a better-rested Dynamo team.

Houston was disappointingly held to a 2-2 draw last Saturday night despite playing at home against a leaky defensive Minnesota side. The Dynamo dominated possession but just weren’t able to eke out a winner in the game’s final moments. They certainly have the kind of pace in the side necessary to give what could be a tired Earthquakes team some problems in this one, particularly on the wing.

Youngster Danny Hoesen was impressive in his first start for the Quakes in Foxborough. He hit the post in the 23rd minute and was constantly creating chances in the eventual scoreless draw. The 26-year-old looked like the best player on the pitch for the majority of the game, and one would imagine Dom Kinnear was impressed enough to give him another shot in the starting XI this weekend in Houston.

San Jose has been pesky, as they’ve squeaked out draws in three consecutive games. The Dynamo haven’t lost in any of their four matches at BBVA Compass Stadium to start this season, though, and they’ll be eager to get back into the win column following a disappointing result against the Loons.

Pick

Houston
3
San Jose
1
Vancouver Whitecaps (+0.5)
VS
Portland Timbers (-0.5)
Total: 2.5
  • Moneyline: Vancouver +390, Portland -150, Draw +285
  • Betting Value: Portland is going to score plenty of goals. Taking the Timbers -½ isn’t the worst idea.

After picking up a win against Seattle in the first Cascadia Cup affair of 2017, the Whitecaps will look to make it two in a row this week when they head to Providence Park to take on the mighty Timbers. Can Vancouver pull off the double against another Western Conference powerhouse?

Portland fell for the first time at home last week against stingy Sporting Kansas City, 1-0. It was the first time this season that the Timbers have been held scoreless over an entire game, yet they still lead MLS with 16 goals on the year. Despite being one of the better teams in the league over the last few years, the Timbers have had a tough time solving the Whitecaps. They’ve won just one of the last six regular season meetings between the clubs, along with three losses and two draws.

The Whitecaps beat Seattle last week using a pair of goals for ex-Sounder Fredy Montero. Those were his first two tallies of the young season, and if he can round into form the ‘Caps should be able to start making some moves in the West. They’re currently just a point behind Real Salt Lake for the final playoff spot in the conference, though they’ve struggled recently away from home. Vancouver is just 1-7-3 in their last 11 matches away from BC Place.

The Timbers have too many weapons to be held down for long. Considering Fanendo Adi and Diego Valeri have already combined to net 10 goals, it’s hard to believe they’ll be held down for a second consecutive week. Portland gets back on the winning track in this one.

Pick

Portland
3
Vancouver
1
DC United (+0.5)
VS
New England Revolution (-0.5)
Total: 2.5
  • Moneyline: DC +400, New England -140, Draw +270
  • Betting Value: There isn’t much to like here.

Here we have a matchup between a couple of teams that are trying to find some goals. The Revs haven’t scored in two games after losing 3-0 to Chicago over the weekend and drawing San Jose 0-0 on Wednesday night, while DC United were shut-out 2-0 by New York on Saturday.

United didn’t create many chances at all against the Red Bulls, and their slow offensive start to the season continues to puzzle. This team was scoring goals by the boatload at the end of last season, yet they’ve found the back of the net just four times through six matches in 2017. They also lost key defender Steve Birnbaum to an apparent head injury, and he’ll miss this game against the Revs.

New England will be disappointed in the scoreless draw against the Earthquakes. San Jose created more chances throughout the game, and the Revs likely would’ve come up empty were it not for a standout performance from keeper Cody Cropper. It was the Revs’ second clean sheet of the season, though, so the defensive effort deserves praise.

United have been abysmal on the road (0-2-2), while New England currently has a seven-match unbeaten streak going at Gillette Stadium. The Revolution earn a narrow win here.

Pick

New England
1
DC United
0
Columbus Crew (+1)
VS
New York Red Bulls (-1)
Total: 3
  • Moneyline : Columbus +400, New York -145
  • Betting Value: Columbus is an excellent side, and that +400 moneyline is incredibly tempting.

This should be one of the more fun games of the day with a pair of Eastern Conference powers going toe-to-toe. Columbus currently has the best record in the conference (4-2-1), with three of those wins coming at Mapfre Stadium. They’re 1-2-0 away from home, though, and they’ll face a tough test at Red Bull Arena here tonight.

Federico Higuain’s return to form has been key in the Crew’s revival this season. He’s picked up a goal and four assists over his last four outings, and he’s spearheaded an attack that has already scored 11 goals on the season. Ola Kamara and Justin Meram have been the primary beneficiaries of Higauin’s strong facilitating, as they have scored four goals apiece already.

The Red Bulls have been waiting for the goals to start flowing, and they finally came last week against DC United. Bradley Wright-Phillips got on the score sheet for the second time this season and Alex Muyl scored the other in RBNY’s solid 2-0 triumph. For all their struggles, they come into this one just three points behind the Crew for the top spot in the East.

If New York has truly turned a corner, they can make a statement here against the top team in the conference at home. We think they’ll do just that.

Pick

New York
2
Columbus
1
Sporting Kansas City (+0.5)
VS
FC Dallas (-0.5)
Total: 2.5
  • Moneyline: KC +350, Dallas -120, Draw +240
  • Betting Value: Two defense-oriented clubs has us going for the under on 2.5 goals.

While Columbus-New York will be a key matchup in the east, we have a similar affair going down in Dallas between a pair of Western Conference powers. Sporting KC come into this one riding high after earning an impressive victory at Portland last weekend, while FC Dallas continues to chug along in defense of their 2016 Supporters’ Shield.

Kansas City has been doing it with defense. Very few teams are capable of going into Providence Park and notching a clean sheet against that high-powered Portland attack, yet KC did just that. They’ve still conceded just twice the entire season, which has more than made up for the fact that they’ve mustered just six goals of their own.

While Sporting have been the league’s best defensive side so far, FCD isn’t too far behind. Dallas has allowed just three goals on their way to a 3-0-2 start while scoring seven of their own. Kellyn Acosta has been a man possessed, as the young American has already scored four times in five MLS outings in 2017.

FC Dallas hasn’t lost in their last 10 regular season matches overall, which includes the scoreless draw these two played in Kansas City back on March 11th. Sporting dominated possession that night (68.5 percent), but FCD kept them out of the net.

One would imagine this will be another defensive struggle. Dallas is at home and offers a bit more in attack, though, so we’ll give them the slight edge in this matchup.

Pick

FC Dallas
1
Sporting KC
0
Atlanta United (+0.5)
VS
Real Salt Lake (-0.5)
Total: 2.5
  • Moneyline: Atlanta +260, Salt Lake EVEN, Draw +255
  • Betting Value: Meh. Move along.

Following a dismal, winless start that saw them fire head coach Jeff Cassar, Real Salt Lake has gotten the wheels back on the tracks over the last couple of weeks. They thrashed Vancouver 3-0 in a snowy affair two weeks ago before impressively toppling Colorado 2-1 on the road last Saturday. At 2-3-1, they’ve quietly climbed into the final playoff spot out west.

Liverpool loanee Brooks Lennon has been a bright spot for RSL, and this blast against the Rapids last week proved to be the difference in the victory.

Atlanta United just keep earning results. They’re in the midst of a tough four-game road trip, but they picked up a draw in Seattle before losing a heartbreaker in stoppage time in Montreal last weekend. Josef Martinez remains out of the lineup with a quad issue, which has put a damper on ATL’s goalscoring.

Still, the expansion side has already scored 14 times on the season, which ranks second in MLS behind the Timbers. Atlanta has picked up crucial red cards in each of their last two games, though Leandro Gonzalez Pirez’s straight red last week was later rescinded. As a result, he’ll be eligible to play tonight in Salt Lake City.

RSL could keep the win streak going, but a resilient Atlanta side can pick up a draw here.

Pick

Salt Lake
2
Atlanta
2
MONEYLINE
DECIMAL
FRACTIONAL
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