Adam Chernoff has a tasty goals bet for week 9 of the MLS season.
Back and forth the season goes. After Real Salt Lake got the job done two weeks ago, Atlanta United failed to get a victory last weekend for readers of this column. After eight weeks of the MLS season, my record sits at 5-4 (+0.15x). This week I am going to return to Atlanta, with a slightly different approach to take advantage of an edge I see in the market.
The Champs Are…Back?
Following the performance against New England, I was convinced that Atlanta was indeed, back. The team was rested, coming into form and no longer had the distraction of the CONCACAF Champions League hanging over them. While the scoreline against Dallas looked anything but flattering, digging into the activity within the 90 minutes paints a different picture.
After stripping out the 97th minute penalty by Josef Martinez, Atlanta United ended the game with an expected goals total of 2.1. They generated 22 shot attempts, 8 of which were on target and 2 more of which hit the post. They controlled the ball for 75 of the 90 minutes and squandered – or rather, were denied – three high-quality chances on shots within 12 yards.
The trio of Barco, Martinez and Gressel were fantastic again but the team could not find the back of the net. The only downside to Atlanta was the play of their centre backs. Two missed marks in transition by Miles Robinson and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez led directly to goals for FC Dallas.
Not As It Seems
Keeping in tune with the Atlanta narrative, the Colorado Rapids are another curious team in the league.
In 2018, the Rapids allowed 61 goals against an average xG per match against of 1.64 – both near the bottom of the league. It was a similar story in 2017 with 1.51 xG allowed per game and 49 goals conceded. The betting market is familiar with Colorado having one of the three or four worst defences in the league. They are also used to Colorado having an equally poor offense (least amount of shot attempts in 2017, and least amount of goals in 2018).
The Colorado defence is as bad this season as the previous three. An xG against per game of 1.99 is third worst through eight matches and 23 goals allowed ranks bottom of the league. However, their offensive output is significantly higher than the market is accustomed to seeing.
In eight matches, Colorado has 113 shots, which is second through eight matches this season. Their xG of 1.54 per match is also 9th, a high mark for the club in three seasons. While Kamara leads the way with 5 goals, it is the play of the team behind him which makes a difference, with 5 other players all generating at least 2 expected goals + assists in eight matches.
The price on the over in this match is too long, but not just for the reason of the United offence being as strong as it is. I think Kei Kamara is going to cause a ton of issues for the Atlanta backline. Both centre backs for Atlanta were embarrassed last match, and with Kamara holding a size and athletic advantage, he is going to find space in the Atlanta area for 90 minutes. Rosenberry and Feilhaber can be extremely aggressive with their entry passes into the box to find him.
As big of a mismatch as this is in favour of Colorado, the biggest advantage on the field is the Atlanta attack against the Colorado defence.
In the three matches since the Monterrey series concluded, it is quite easy to make the case that Atlanta is the second best offence in the MLS next to LAFC. Their high shot total of the year came last week and the team continues to build week on week.
Without Jack Price in midfield for Colorado, Atlanta are going to be able to hold control of the ball in midfield. While much of their success against Dallas came from the wings, this match should play out similar to the New England match where through balls directly up the middle chewed up the Revs backline. The Rapids are vulnerable to speed, which is what Atlanta has in abundance on and off the ball.
I expect both teams to find the net early and set this pace up for a 4+ goal match.
- Atlanta United Colorado Rapids Over 3.5 Goals (+110 / 2.10). Risking 1.35x
It’s crunch time across European football, and for the pod as well. After a glorious effort last week, with 4/5 winning selections, host Ali Maxwell is joined by Nigel Seeley and Mark O’Haire to look ahead to the weekend’s action, with four games analysed, across England, Italy and Turkey.