Adam Chernoff attempts to keep it rolling this week, as he keys in on a Saturday night east coast fixture!
That was more like it! Readers of my weekly column were able to cash in comfortably with Real Salt Lake last weekend. The win puts the overall season record at 5-3 (+1.65x). Looking to add on the success of last week, I am taking advantage of a great buy low sell high spot in the market on Saturday.
The Champs Are Back
It was a bizarre start to the season for the defending Champions Atlanta United. Two losses and two draws had them at the bottom of the Eastern Conference after four matches. Much of the issues were related to dealing with multiple lineups playing in the CONCACAF Champions League.
After losing out to Monterrey in late March, Atlanta had a 96-hour turn around to play Philadelphia before enjoying their first two-week rest period since mid-February. With another scheduling change, United were permitted another two-week rest period leading up to their match last weekend against New England, and boy did it show.
The defending champs went out and pummelled the Revs for 90 minutes. The scoreboard read 0-2 for the away side, but more than a half dozen high percentage scoring chances were left on the pitch. In fact, despite the dominance, Atlanta finished nearly a full goal below expectation.
This team is back, and the league is now on notice.
Atlanta certainly showed their lack of depth in the opening two months of the season, but their schedule cut them few breaks. The first four matches of the season for Atlanta of which they took just two points were against four playoff teams including DC United (1st) and Columbus (2nd). Despite the difficult schedule, the numbers are still very positive for Atlanta.
Their expected goal differential less actual goal differential is -2.5, which puts them as one of the six biggest underachievers this season. Their total shot ratio of 0.584 is fourth in the MLS and they have outshot opponents by an average of 5 shots per match. Despite the difficult competition, Atlanta has been performing extremely well.
With three victories in their past four matches, Dallas sits firmly in the top half of the Western Conference table. From the outside looking in, their season appears to be going extremely well. I give them the title of most opportunistic team in the MLS. FC Dallas has four victories and one draw this season.
Aside from the victory against the LA Galaxy, their wins have come against Portland, Colorado and Salt Lake. Colorado and Portland are both winless through 13 combined matches and Real Salt Lake had just one win prior to last weekend in 7 matches of their own. The other point (draw) was against New England who is in last place in the Eastern Conference. Take out the Galaxy win and Dallas has earned points off four teams that have a combined two victories between them.
What makes all of the above even more shocking is the performance of Dallas in those games. They have a total shot ratio of just 0.474 and have been outshot 80 to 72. Their expected goal differential less actual goal differential is +4.5, which suggest they are the third most over-performing team in the MLS.
Much of the success in attack for Dallas FC this year has gone through Paxton Pomykal. With defensive midfielder Eric Remendi and fullback George Bello both out for Atlanta, Pomykal and his creativity appear to have the chance to thrive in the attacking third for Dallas. However, Atlanta has a trio of midfielders, Gressel, Nagbe and Villabla who can fill in the void.
In order to counter the creativity of Pomykal, Atlanta United manager, Frank De Boer, must push forward aggressively and pin the Dallas midfielder back in their own end.
The injuries to the defensive middle for Atlanta should force a more aggressive tactical approach. The through balls and playmaking ability of Ezequiel Barco and finishing of Josef Martinez is frightening and present a huge mismatch against the Dallas youth, and I think both find the scoresheet.
This match is a perfect aggression spot for both teams, and I am more than willing to take a rested Atlanta team with their foot on the gas at home to beat up on an over-performing Dallas side.
- Atlanta -0.75 (1.81) Risking 1.50x
Host Ali Maxwell is joined by Mark Stinchcombe and Mark O’Haire to look ahead to the weekend’s Premier League and European action – with five selections in total from Manchester City vs Tottenham, Everton vs Manchester United, Augsburg vs Stuttgart and Bologna vs Sampdoria.