Colorado Rapids, Nashville SC, and Seattle Sounders netted us big wins last weekend, let’s keep the train rolling in week five. This weekend offers a handful of savory lines, and I’m here to tell you what they are. Let get to it.
Odds presented by DraftKings.
Atlanta United vs. CF Montreal
The dreary march on since the end of the Gerardo “Tata” Martino era continues under Gabriel Heinze, at least so far.
Atlanta is 1W-2D-1L on the season, sporting a +1 goal differential. Taking a look at their xG paints a much more accurate portrait of this squad. Only having conceded four goals on the season, their xGA sits at 7.5. That figure is second-worst in the conference behind only FC Cincinnati and fifth-worst in the league overall.
The Five Stripes have had a busy schedule to start the season. Besides their four games in MLS, Atlanta also endured a grueling CONCACAF tie with Philadelphia Union. Going into Saturday will Atlanta’s seventh game in a month. For a squad lacking in defensive reinforcements behind their starters, this has led to overplaying key figures like George Bello, Miles Robinson. That fatigue was present in Atlanta’s 1-1 draw with Inter Miami last weekend.
Offensively, the club is finding its rhythm, with star man Josef Martinez netting his first goal since his ACL injury. At the heart of Heinze’s tactics is a defensive midfielder, Santiago Sosa. Sosa is the team’s lynchpin, orchestrating the game from deep while maintaining excellent positioning in front of the backline. Although, like Bello and Robinson, the minutes seem to be getting to Sosa over the past two weeks.
New Head Coach Wilifired Nancy has done a nice job navigating the opening stretch of the season. CF Montreal sports the same record as Atlanta but came into the season with markedly different expectations. Nancy was thrust into his role when Thierry Henry suddenly resigned. The Frenchman has been tasked with getting more out of a squad that struggled mightily on both sides of the ball, finishing last season with a -10GD.
Interestingly, Montreal is one of the few teams to have their actual goals and goals against matching what’s expected. The goal-scoring threat is there, with Attacking midfielder Djorde Mihailovic, striker Romell Quito, and Samuel Piette on the pitch. 22-year old striker Mason Toye also seems to be progressing in the right direction.
It’ll be hard for Montreal to keep Atlanta off the board, but it should be equally as problematic for United to keep a clean sheet. Montreal should ravenous attack should keep this game close enough to pull out a point. I’ll take Montreal and the point.
CF Montreal +1 -125
Real Salt Lake vs. Nashville SC
I’ve called Salt Lake the league’s most underwhelming roster, and while I stand by that and can admit I am surprised by their start.
The team has relied heavily on their defense, which has only given up four goals on the season and has a 3.5 xGA. Justin Glad, Marcelo Silva, and Aaron Herrera have combined to cause opposing offensive fits. The typical fourth defender in Head Coach Freddy Juarez’s 4-2-3-1 is left-back Danny Toia, who prevents this unit from reaching its full potential. Toia struggles to keep hold of the ball, losing possession 85 times through four games, consistently coming out on the losing end of duels, and serving up plenty of inaccurate passes.
Now, when I spoke of underwhelming, that mostly pertained to the attack. Although Real has six goals on the season, their xG is down at 4.3, worst in the Western Conference. Salt Lake has only three legitimate offensive threats: Rubio Rubin, Anderson Julio, and midfielder Damir Krielach. Those three have almost exclusively been the source of Salt Lake goals, as the trio has combined for five of the six.
Against a Nashville team that finally played like one of the league best in their 2-0 victory over the New England Revolution, Real is in big trouble.
Nashville has a bevy of attacking options to rotate through. Starting CJ Sapong seemed to do wonders for Gary Smith’s squad. Sapong’s physicality helped Nashville dominate in the air, while his experience allowed him to navigate attacking areas successfully.
Looking at the back, Walker Zimmerman, Dave Romney, Daniel Lovitz, and Alistair Johnson will be more than capable of dealing with Real’s minimal threats.
Nashville is one of the league’s elite teams; getting them at +185 is too good to pass up.
Nashville SC +185
FC Cincinnati vs. Inter Miami
Miami at even money against FC Cincy? Yes, please.
With the high profile of Inter combined with Cincinnati’s miserable form, expect this line to drop as we move closer to Sunday considerably. Hop on it while you can.
FC Cincinnati has been the league’s worst team since entering the league. In their three years, Cincy has lost 50 of their 60 games, sporting a -81 GD. This year hasn’t been much different.
They did get an exciting young Brazillian forward in Brenner, but he will not stop the bleeding at the back end. Already having conceded ten goals in three games, Inter has the firepower to boost that number up by a few by the end of Sunday.
Miami is coming off of back-to-back draws, and Gary Neville should have this team coming out ready to make amends.
Quite simply, the likes of Lewis Morgan, Gonzalo and Frederico Higuain, and Rodolfo Pizzaro should light Cincinnati up. I won’t overthink it, and neither should you.
Inter Miami +100