It feels like a blazing start to the MLS season.
Through 53 matches there have been 163 goals scored, an average of 3.08 per game.
- Over 1.5 goals are hitting at an 81% rate
- Over 2.5 goals are hitting at a 60% rate
- Over 3.5 goals are hitting at a 38% rate
- Home sides are hitting at a 55% rate
- Away sides are hitting at a 25% rate
- Draws are hitting at a 21% rate
At first glance, these numbers appeared extreme to me. But, by looking a little deeper, I realised that these numbers are not too uncommon.
Last year the average was 2.97 goals per match, just 0.11 goals less than the 3.08 goal average this season. The historic draw rate in the MLS is 20.75%, right on par with the 21% current average. Away win rates last season occurred at a 22% rate, just 3% less than the 25% pace this season.
While many bettors and bookmakers continue to adjust their models and pricing, I am keen to stay close to the mean as the league is playing out at an expected rate through the first six weeks of the season.
Here are the prices and model projected scorelines for week seven:
I have included Over/Under 2.5 Goals in each market projection. As data from the current season complies, I will add more markets into the forecast.
There are a couple of big standouts this week.
Philadelphia and New England at home are the most significant variances between model and market pricing. The model has both teams near odds of 1.50 while the market has Philadelphia at 1.85 and New England at 2.18.
Noise plays a part in these numbers, but clear value is available on both.
Chicago Los Angeles and Portland Minnesota are the two over 2.5 goal bets of the week. Los Angeles has an expected goals deficit of -1.2 and the model projects a 68% chance for Chicago to score 2 or more goals against a weak Galaxy defence (and goalkeeper).
Portland is my team to keep an eye on as their performance is well below their talent level. This match is an excellent spot for them to explode back with a 76% chance of scoring 2 or more.
The model says Minnesota should find the scoreboard against the worst defence in the league and projects only a 28% chance of the visitors scoring 0 goals.
Regression is the keyword in the Columbus v DC United, and San Jose v Houston matches. DC United have allowed ten goals against, 2.5 goals higher than expected. Columbus has scored nine goals, 1.4 goals higher than expected.
The model anticipates that both teams play down to average giving DC a 77% chance to score 0 or 1 goals and Columbus a 68% chance of doing the same.
San Jose and Houston both enter this match with a surplus of expected goals. San Jose has overachieved offensively by 1.3 goals, and Houston has overachieved by 0.5. The model projects a tough game for the visiting Dynamo spitting out a 71% chance of scoring 0 or 1 goals.
That makes six bets in which the model has identified an edge this week.
- Philadelphia 1.840
- Chicago Los Angeles Over 2.5 1.650
- Columbus DC United Under 2.5 2.050
- New England 2.180
- Portland Minnesota Over 2.5 1.500
- San Jose Houston Under 2.5 2.230