Home is where the heart is this week for Adam Chernoff as he selects two home teams that are piquing his interest!
It was another painful 90 minutes to endure at the hands of Atlanta United. What was projected to be a wide open match ended up bogging down and for the first time this season, two weeks have lost in a row. After nine weeks of the MLS season, my record sits at 5-5 (-1.20x). This week, a couple opportunities present themselves on the card.
Continuing to Overachieve
Houston Dynamo host FC Dallas in the Texas Derby played at BBVA Stadium in Houston. FC Dallas is a team that I have been critical of a number of times this season. Entering their match two weeks ago vs. Atlanta, FC Dallas was the fourth most over achieving team in the MLS. At the time, their goal differential vs expected goals differential was +4.5. The overachievement came against a very easy schedule of opponents with only one victory against playoff teams.
In the two matches since, the fortunate results have continued for Dallas. The Toros earned a win and a draw despite San Jose and Atlanta winning the xG battle in those matches by nearly two goals. Entering the tenth week of play, FC Dallas has a goal differential of +5 and an expected goal differential of -2.2, The +7.2 net moves them to the highest in the league.
Key Piece Missing
Everything may change for FC Dallas this week. In their match against San Jose, Paxton Pomykal tweaked his hamstring and will not play in the match against Houston. While Pomykal has only got on the scoresheet three times in nine matches, his creative play in midfield has been vital to the success of the FC Dallas offence. Pablo Aranguiz could take his spot, but manager Luchi Gonzalez is likely to go conservative with either Bryan Acosta or Carlos Gruezo against Houston. The Dynamo have played a league low seven matches this season, but they have already scored 15 goals – one more than Dallas who has played nine matches.
Dallas has an advantage in counter-attack on the wings but without Pomykal to make that connection, Dallas is going to have to beat Houston with speed – something they don’t have. Houston creates so many scoring chances and has so much individual talent up front that are each equally skilled at finishing, that relying on Jesse Gonzalez to make 10 saves as he did against Atlanta is not realistic. Houston is too aggressive for Dallas to handle and should win the Texas Derby at home.
Another Star Injured
Toronto FC is dealing with an injury problem of its own. Jozy Altidore is set to miss another match this week as the Canadian club travel to Florida to take on Orlando. Averaging a goal per 68 minutes, the Toronto FC offence is heavily dependent on the veteran forward. Much like Dallas FC, sustainability comes into question when examining the Toronto FC offensive success this season. Toronto has generated just greater than 12 expected goals but have scored 19 times. The difference of +7 actual vs expected goals is the biggest offensive gap in the league, and a +7.1 net puts Toronto second in MLS behind Dallas.
Orlando City play very wide and have had plenty of attacking success of their own led by Nani, Dom Dwyer and Tesho Akindele. Toronto is not an effective counter-attacking team and have had much more success with possession this season. Their lack of aggression and press on defence should allow the Orlando attackers to be comfortable on the ball. With their key offensive component missing and extreme heat at kickoff, we might see a second consecutive match with a big disconnect between the Toronto defence and attackers. At better than even money, Orlando FC is worth a bet at home.
- Houston Dynamo (1.92). Risking 1.20x
- Orlando City (2.10). Risking 1.00x