Adam Chernoff is opposing the narrative on FC Cincinnati this week.
The third week of the season did not go my way, but my bet on Philadelphia at odds of (2.15) certainly made up for it last week. The Union routed Columbus 3-0 and readers of this weekly blog earned back 1.15x. After the win, my record on the MLS season moves to 3-2 (+1.12x)
I will start off MLS Week 5 right where I left off in MLS Week 4, with another wager on Philadelphia.
Playing Below Expectation
With the majority of the MLS now with four matches played, the true identity of sides is becoming evident through data. We know that the Philadelphia Union have a lot of creativity in midfield and are extremely well rounded as a whole. But how has their performance held up lingering in the middle of the league?
To my surprise, they are actually performing quite well. Despite their three-goal outburst last weekend, Philadelphia are still playing a touch under expectation as a whole. They have generated a +11 shot differential and their 52 shots mark ranks third in the league. From an expected goals vs goal differential perspective, Philadelphia is one of seven teams in the league playing at least one goal below expectation.
Much like my wager on Philadelphia a week ago was equally a fade of Columbus without Zardes in the starting lineup, this week my bet on Philadelphia is equally a fade of Cincinnati. The case can easily be made that no team is overperforming more than Cincinnati sitting atop the Eastern Conference table. After getting pummeled by Seattle in their opener, FC Cincinnati has earned points in three straight matches including back to back wins in the past two weekends.
My issue with Cincinnati is their defending.
Despite the favourable results, Cincinnati has been outshot – badly. Their shot differential is an astounding -21 through 360 minutes of play. From a straight comparison standpoint, Cincinnati is performing more than two goals above expectation on both offence and defence independently. Each of these figures make it even more incredible that in addition to the victories, Cincinnati has kept a clean sheet in both matches too.
Home Field Pricing
There is little question in my mind that Philadelphia should be priced sub 2.95 in this match.
A big part of their price ballooning above 3.00 is due to the Cincinnati home field. The support at Nippert Stadium has been phenomenal with another sellout of 32,000 fans expected. What many bettors also like to latch on to is the artificial turf surface. Cincinnati has yet to play on natural grass this season, while Philadelphia has played three of four matches on turf.
Typically moving to the turf surface can be a disadvantage. However, the new playing surface in Cincinnati is quite unique and plays extremely slow. The home side has a ton of big bodies but lacks a lot of speed. Philadelphia is extremely crafty in midfield and I believe the slower surface plays to their controlling style as they do not have to worry about the erratic bounces hard turf surfaces tend to bring in other stadiums around the league.
International play wrapped up on Wednesday and many of the players in the MLS are returning to their clubs after 10-14 days away. With key forward Adi in question to play and Kendall Watson less than 100%, continuity within the starting lineup can certainly be an issue for Cincinnati. To make matters worse, manager Alan Koch has to make a decision in goal.
Polish keeper Tyton practiced for the first time since being injured in the opener against Seattle. MLS rookie Spencer Richey has stepped in admirably the past three matches. All signs point to Tyton getting the starting role back, which could well be a step down for Cincinnati.
Cincinnati is playing at an unattainable pace.
With key pieces at less than 100%, a well-rounded Union side could take advantage of the worst defence in the MLS. The home field narrative is certainly affecting this price and Philadelphia on the handicap is well worth a wager.
- Philadelphia Union +0.25 (1.90). Risking 1.10x.
Host Ali Maxwell is joined by Ian Broadrick and Mark O’Haire – taking in games from England, Scotland and Italy, with betting angles for West Ham vs Everton, Celtic vs Rangers and Frosinone vs SPAL. Ian Broadrick is a football tipster for Betting Emporium. Mark O’Haire is the brains behind WeLoveBetting and contributes to the Matchbook Insights Blog.