Coming off a tough loss last weekend, Adam Chernoff is eager to get the ball rolling again this week with a strong home team selection.
It could have well been the worst wager I made in my two years writing for Matchbook. Although it was not a double bet, giving back 1.55x on New York -1 last week stung. The Red Bulls quickly went down two goals – to the B team of Minnesota! – before losing 2-1.
Nonetheless, readers of this weekly blog are playing from the green as my MLS record on the season is 4-3 (+0.57x) heading into the weekend.
Strength of Schedule
Let’s begin this week right where we started the write-up for last week, schedule talk. As bad as the Red Bulls had it with international travel, Real Salt Lake has run the North America gauntlet the last month.
After beating Vancouver 1-0 at home, they went cross country six hours to face DC United and then came back across seven hours to face LAFC. There was a brief reprieve at home vs Dallas before travelling to the Northwest to face Seattle.
Not only was the travel time challenging, but the strength of opponent was BRUTAL.
LAFC and Seattle sit atop the Western Conference with no losses between the two. At the time, Dallas had lost just one match of five and DC United sits second in the Eastern Conference.
No team through the opening six weeks of the MLS Season has had a more difficult strength of schedule than Real Salt Lake.
If there is anything consistent with Orlando City manager James O’Connor, it is his ability to be inconsistent. The Irishman has started a different defensive backline in each match this season. He has also gone back and forth between a three or four man back line. To start the season, Orlando was strictly four men at the back. Recently, they have shifted to three men at the back. Simply put, he can’t quite figure things out.
The inability to field a consistent lineup may come back to bite him and his club this week in Salt Lake City.
Orlando, out in sunny Florida sits right at sea level, while Salt Lake sits some 1,300 meters above Sea Level. Travel for Orlando this season has been very comfortable with only two away games, both up the Eastern coast three hours. Playing with a three man backline in a match with less than ideal conditions will likely force O’Connor to revert to four men back, or frequently drop his wings back to play a five man back line.
The key to this match for Real Salt Lake is taking control of the match early.
The more they are able to use their speed and force the Orlando line back early, the more they can force them to run and use the conditions to their advantage. Orlando has conceded five goals in the opening 15 minutes of matches this season, and an increased level of urgency from Salt Lake returning home coming off four consecutive losses could prove to be enough to get a jump.
Add in the fact that Orlando is likely to have to shift up their defensive formation and we may see one of the four worst defensive units in the league get burned early. Real Salt Lake gets two starters back from injury including Justen Glad and Damir Kreilach is back from red card suspension.
All in all, a very nice reset spot for Salt Lake to take advantage of their home field conditions. If RSL can get an early goal, they will roll to a comfortable victory against Orlando.
- Real Salt Lake (1.86). Risking 1.25x
Host Ali Maxwell is joined by Adrian Clarke and Mark O’Haire to look ahead to a big weekend in the Premier League – we take a tactical and punting look at Liverpool vs Chelsea, Crystal Palace vs Manchester City and Watford vs Arsenal. Adrian is a former professional footballer and current tactical analyst and pundit focusing on the top four tiers of English football. Mark O’Haire is a betting analyst and writer, the brains behind WeLoveBetting, and in charge of the pod’s punting selections.