Major League Soccer Picks Saturday April 8th

by Taylor Smith
on April 8, 2017

Saturday brings us a healthy eight-game slate of MLS action. There are a few marquee matchups on tap, as Atlanta United travel north to take on defending Eastern Conference champions Toronto FC, and the Houston Dynamo will look to continue their hot start up in New England.

Can Minnesota United make it two wins in two? Will FC Dallas rebound from a disappointing loss in the Champions League in the middle of the week? Will Bastian Schweinsteiger score again in his second MLS game?

There are plenty of questions to be answered, so let’s hop right in with our MLS picks for Saturday.

Columbus Crew (-0.5)
VS
Chicago Fire (+0.5)
Total: 3

Bastian Schweinsteiger certainly made his presence felt in his MLS debut last week against Montreal. The German international scored a goal to give Chicago the first half lead, only to see the Impact come back and score the next two. The Fire were able to dramatically rescue a point when Luis Solignac found the back of the net in stoppage time.

Getting back into the win column this week will be a tall order against an in-form Columbus side coming off a solid 2-0 win at Orlando City. The Crew are now 3-1-1 on the year and sit atop the Eastern Conference. They’ve been on a great run of late, as they’ve won three consecutive games by a 7-2 margin since losing to Houston in the second week of the season.

Chicago will be shorthanded in the midfield this week, as Juninho will be suspended for earning a straight red card last week against Montreal. Columbus could be without standout defender Jonathan Mensah, who is questionable with a hamstring strain. This could also be the first time we get a look at winger Kekuta Manneh, who was acquired in a trade with the Whitecaps last week.

These two teams met in the season’s opening game in Columbus and shared the spoils, 1-1. It’ll be tough for the Fire to keep up with the Crew’s impressive attack, but they’ll make it two draws in two head-to-head meetings in this one.

Pick

Chicago
2
Columbus
2
Houston Dynamo (-0.5)
VS
New England Revolution (+0.5)
Total: 3

Here we have a clash between two of the league’s most impressive attacking sides. The Dynamo come into this one riding high, having posted a 3-1-0 mark through the first four games with all three victories coming at home. Houston has scored 11 goals along the way, which is tied for the second-most in the league with Atlanta United.

The attack is spearheaded by Erick Torres, who has already scored six goals on the season to lead the league. Three of them came last week in Houston’s rout of New York, and the Mexican international looks like a legitimate star in the making. With wins over Seattle, New York and Columbus already this season, the Dynamo are looking like a legitimate threat in the West.

The Revs earned an impressive point last week against one of the leagues toughest attacks in Portland. Diego Valeri looked to have secured all three points for the away side before New England’s Lee Nguyen scored one late to wrestle a point back. They’ve now secured four points over the last two games after starting the year with back-to-back defeats.

The Dynamo will be without influential midfielder Romell Quioto again as he continues to nurse a shoulder injury, but betting against this high-octane attack would seem to be a fool’s errand right now. They’re not as battle-tested on the road, but they should be good for a draw at worst in this spot.

Pick

Houston
3
New England
2
DC United (-0.5)
VS
NYCFC (+0.5)
Total: 3

This will be the second meeting in under a month between these clubs, and DC United are still licking their wounds from their 4-0 thrashing at the hands of NYCFC last month at Yankee Stadium. The scene will shift to RFK Stadium for this one, but the home team will have its hands full trying to contain their opponent’s vaunted attack.

After failing to score a goal in each of their first three outings, United finally found the back of the net last week in a 2-1 win over Philadelphia. Jose Ortiz opened the scoring in the 18th minute before Luciano Acosta converted from the penalty spot to help DC to its first victory of the young season.

NYCFC toppled San Jose at home last week, 2-1. David Villa earned his second assist of the season and will be looking to continue to wreak havoc on DC United after netting a brace in the aforementioned 4-0 win in March. This will only mark NYCFC’s second road game of the year, while DC will be playing at home (1-1-1 previously) for the fourth time.

It’s tough to project another rout like the one we saw a month ago, but clearly NYCFC are a matchup nightmare for United. There should be plenty of goals scored in this one, though not all will be scored by NYC.

Pick

NYCFC
3
DC United
2
Philadelphia Union (-0.5)
VS
Portland Timbers (+0.5)
Total: 3

The Union have played three of their first games of the season on the road and they’ve failed to win in all of them. They managed a draw in their lone home game on the season, and they’re in for a tough assignment this week with the high-powered Portland Timbers coming to town. Philly currently sits at the bottom of the East, while the Timbers are atop the West.

After scoring a boatload of goals through the first three games, the Timbers had a tough time breaking down the Revolution last week and were held to a 1-1 result. They’re still the highest-scoring team in the league with 13 goals on the year. Diego Valeri and Fanendo Adi have been right in the thick of things, as the two have combined to contribute nine goals already.

The Timbers were terrible on the road last season, as they failed to win a single game away from Providence Park. This will be just their second game away from home this season, but they earned a win over the Galaxy and a draw against New England last week.

The Union won’t be able to keep up in this one.

Pick

Portland
3
Philadelphia
0
Toronto FC (-0.5)
VS
Atlanta United (+0.5)
Total: 3

Toronto got Sebastian Giovinco back from his thigh contusion last week but were held to a scoreless draw in their home opener against Sporting Kansas City. TFC had plenty of opportunities but just couldn’t find the crucial touch when it mattered most.

They’ll face a stiff test this week with expansion side Atlanta United coming to town. While the other expansion club, Minnesota, has struggled tremendously, Atlanta legitimately looks like a title contender in their first season. They’ve racked up 11 goals thus far on the way to their 2-1-1 start, though they themselves are coming off a 0-0 draw of their own against Seattle last week.

They’ll be without leading scorer Josef Martinez again this week as he continues to nurse a leg injury, but the rest of the firepower will be ready to roll. Giovinco will be looking to get on track for TFC after a slow start to the year. The former league MVP has yet to find the score sheet through three games this season, and he was held to fewer than two shots on target for the second straight week in the last game against KC.

This should be one of the more fun matchups of the week, and we think this is the week Giovinco finally gets it going. He’ll lead TFC to a close win over the up-and-coming Atlanta squad.

Pick

Toronto
2
Atlanta
1
FC Dallas (-0.5)
VS
Minnesota United (+0.5)
Total: 3.5

The bottle spins towards FC Dallas this week, and they’ll be the team that gets to pick on Minnesota United’s incredibly porous defense. FCD is coming off of a heartbreaking result against Pachuca in the CONCACAF Champions League During the week, and you can bet they’ll be eager to take out their frustrations against the league’s flimsiest defense.

The league’s newest club actually got a win last week! The Loons earned an impressive 4-2 win over hapless Real Salt Lake last week for the franchise’s first ever victory. Scoring goals hasn’t been a problem for this club. MNUFC has scored 10 goals already this season, which is the fourth-most in the league. The fact that they have 10 goals and a goal differential of minus-10 is where the problems lie.

They attempted to shore things up during the week by acquiring a pair of defensive-minded players in Sam Cronin and Marc Burch.

If FCD has something close to its full complement of players ready to play in this one, they should be able to get past the Loons. MNUFC appears to be improving, but they’re far from a finished product.

Pick

FC Dallas
4
Minnesota
2
Real Salt Lake (-0.5)
VS
Vancouver Whitecaps (+0.5)
Total: 2.5

Where do we even start with Real Salt Lake? They’ve already fired their coach, and they became the first team to lose to Minnesota United when they were thrashed 4-2 last week. RSL has mustered just three goals so far on the season and sits in the basement of the West. Frankly, they’re a mess.

Vancouver notched a win for the first time on the year by beating LA Galaxy last weekend in an impressive display at home. Fredy Montero spearheaded the ‘Caps come-from-behind win last weekend when he came on at halftime, and he should be fit to start this one. Tony Tchani, who was acquired in a deal from Columbus last week, also played a hand in the win.

RSL’s health continues to be a concern. They’re particularly shorthanded along the back line, and they had to resort to their fifth- and sixth-choice center backs. Yura Movsisyan has been bright in attack, but he can’t do it all himself.

Pick

Vancouver
2
Real Salt Lake
0
San Jose Earthquakes (-0.5)
VS
Seattle Sounders (+0.5)
Total: 2.5

With neither side playing at full strength after the international break, the Sounders had to settle for a 0-0 draw at home against Atlanta United last week. San Jose, meanwhile, was beaten 2-1 at NYCFC.

Despite all of their success, the Sounders haven’t been able to solve the Earthquakes in San Jose. Seattle hasn’t won Avaya Stadium in seven years. Seattle will try to break the streak in this one as they’ll surely look to attack San Jose’s makeshift back line. With Victor Bernardez suspended thanks to a red card, San Jose will likely have to resort to little-used Andres Imperiale at center back.

NYCFC had no problems finding space in the heart of the Quakes’ defense last week, and the Sounders certainly have the talent to do similar damage in this one. Clint Dempsey has scored two of Seattle’s six goals thus far on the year, but the team is still looking to get Nicolas Lodeiro going. He was crucial in Seattle’s unlikely surge to the MLS Cup last season, but he’s scored just once in the first four games this year.

The Quakes are one of the most improved sides in the league this season, and they’ve really ramped up their goal scoring after being the league’s worst in that department in 2016. The Sounders can be tough to completely stifle, though, so a draw here looks probable.

Pick

Seattle
2
San Jose
2
MONEYLINE
DECIMAL
FRACTIONAL
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