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High Press 10

High Press 10 covers general global soccer stories and news. He / she finds the quality of soccer in Bend It Like Beckham to be on par with u8 rec.

2019 MLS Cup Odds: Atlanta United Drops, New York Red Bulls Now Favored

High Press 10 March 19, 2019

When we first posted 2019 MLS Cup odds, Atlanta United (as expected) were listed as favorites. After a bumpy start to the season, which has led to some #FdBOUT debates, the Five Stripes have been ousted as the team most likely to hoist a second cup. In their place? The New York Red Bulls.

NYRB odds haven’t actually improved since pre-season, as they’re still +550. Atlanta has dropped from +500 to +700. Seattle Sounders, the only team to not have dropped any points in the MLS so far, has moved from +1000 to +750.

Columbus Crew Rise, Portland Timbers Down

The biggest mover up is a not-missing-Gregg-Berhalter-at-all Columber Crew. They’ve jumped from +3300 to +1200. On the other end, the Portland Timbers have fallen from +1000 to +2000.

View all updated odds (provided by BetStars NJ) here.

 

FA Cup Semifinals: Odds, Game Times, and Where to Watch

High Press 10 March 18, 2019

The FA Cup Semifinals are set.

Manchester City yet again somehow got the most favorable draw imaginable. Go figure. They’ll play Brighton & Hove Albion. Watford hosts Wolverhampton in the other match. Here’s what you need to know.

FA Cup Semifinals Times and Where to Watch

Semifinal games take place on April 6th (times TBD). Games will be available on ESPN/ESPN+ in the United States.

FA Cup Semifinals Game Odds

No surprises here. All listed odds from FanDuel NJ Sportsbook 

Manchester City -700 Draw +650 Brighton +1600
Watford +250 Draw +230 Wolves +110

 

FA Cup Futures

Given they drew Brighton, and the two strongest challengers play each other in the semis, it’s somewhat surprising Manchester City aren’t even more heavily favored to win the FA Cup. If you’re looking for some non-City value, you could do worse than Wolves at +430.

  • Manchester City -290
  • Wolves +430
  • Watford +1000
  • Brighton +1900

Zinedine Zidane Restores Order to Real Madrid!

High Press 10 March 17, 2019

Zinedine Zidane has returned to Real Madrid. Order is restored! Their winning ways are back!

Real Madrid, already comfortably third in La Liga, beat bottom dwellers Celta Vigo on two second half goals 2-0.

Zidane gave Isco and Gareth Bale starts, and they both rewarded their new-old manager’s confidence with the deciding strikes. Bale even hit his with his right foot. True story.

What Does Zidane’s Winning Return Mean?

Well, he showed confidence in his “old guard” and they performed for him. Given Bale’s contract situation, moving off of him isn’t a given. If Zidane can make it work with the oft-criticized Welshman, Madrid will be better for it. Same goes with Isco to a degree. Marco Asensio had one of his better recent games. Same goes for Luka Modric. If the “old guard” are trying to make their case to stay at the Bernabéu they made a compelling opening argument.

Otherwise, the win doesn’t mean much. Vigo is a relegation candidate. A 2-0 home win should be a given.

FA Cup Quarterfinals: Manchester City Marches Towards Quadruple; Manchester United Stumble

High Press 10 March 17, 2019

The FA Cup saw three of four quarterfinals matches played on Saturday (Millwall plays Brighton on Sunday). Here’s what you need to know…

  1. Manchester City Just Keep Winning. When we wrote last month that Manchester City was favored to win four trophies (The QuadrupleTM), we assumed they’d actually lose one or two of the trophies. Nobody wins all four domestic cups. So yeah, that hasn’t happened. Despite going down 0-2 to Swansea in the first 30 minutes, City did what they oh so annoyingly keep doing: finding ways to comeback and win. This time, City secured victory in the 88th minute from a (who else!) Sergio Aguero goal. On to the semis.
  2. Wolves Dominated Manchester United. Wolverhampton is securing their status as the best non-Big 6 team in the Premier League this season. This isn’t just because they literally sit 7th in the Premier League table. Across all domestic competitions, the Wolves have beaten or tied all of the Big 6. The dominated United today, outshooting the Red Devils 17 (11 on target) to 11 (2 on target). Only a stoppage time goal by Marcus Rashford kept the score respectable. Before United fans start freaking, this is all just regression back to the mean for the squad under OGS. They’ve been both lucky and good since sacking Mourinho. They’re just a little less lucky of late. Watch the highlights at the end of the post.
  3. TURN DOWN FOR WATFORD. In the third match of the day, Watford dispatched Crystal Palace 2-1. Watford is just a point behind Wolves in the Premier League, and both squads could give City a run for their money in the semis or finals of the FA Cup. Or at least hold a lead until the final 10 minutes against City when Aguero or Sterling inevitable strike a stunner to further annoy any non-Sky Blues fan.

MLS Matchweek 3 Lines: NYCFC Favored in Tough LAFC Fixture; Can Atlanta United Rebound?

High Press 10 March 15, 2019

Parity, anyone?

Heading into MLS matchweek 3, the Western Conference certainly appears to be the stronger division at the top. How do we know such things? Because despite only being two weeks into the season, LITERALLY EVERY SINGLE EASTERN CONFERENCE TEAM HAS DROPPED POINTS.

How is that even possible?

On the Best Coast, the Seattle Sounders, Minnesota (!!!) and LAFC have secured all six available points.

This week’s MLS match-ups will put LAFC to the test, as they find themselves as underdogs traveling to NYCFC. Minnesota are underdogs in a strong road challenge against Zlatan and LA Galaxy. Seattle travels as slight underdogs to play Chicago Fire.

Atlanta United, still struggling under first year manager Frank de Boer, will try to secure their first W of the season at home vs. Philadelphia Union. The New York Red Bulls host perennial bottom dwellers San Jose. These games will be a test for ATL and NYRB depth, as the clubs have played a heavy slate of tough games early this season thanks to the CONCACAF Champions League.

Also read: MLS Western Conference Preview | MLS Eastern Conference Preview

MLS Matchweek 3 Game Odds

Remember, home team is listed first. If you need a refresher, visit how to bet MLS or how to bet soccer.

All listed odds from FanDuel NJ Sportsbook.

Chicago Fire +135 Draw +250 Seattle Sounders +195
Columbus Crew -135 Draw +260 FC Dallas +390
New York Red Bulls -370 Draw +480 San Jose Earthquakes +850
Houston Dynamo -155 Draw +310 Vancouver Whitecaps +390
Orlando City +110 Draw +270 Montreal Impact +220
DC United -150 Draw +290 Real Salt Lake +410
LA Galaxy +120 Draw +260 Minnesota United +210
FC Cincinnati +140 Draw +250 Portland Timbers +185
Toronto FC -145 Draw +300 New England +360
Atlanta United -170 Draw +330 Philadelphia Union +410
Colorado Rapids +195 Draw +260 Sporting KC +130

 

Champions League Quarterfinals Match Odds and Futures

High Press 10 March 15, 2019

The Champions League Quarterfinals draw was held on Friday. The four teams universally considered the favorites drew the four respective teams with the lowest probabilities to advance. Here are Leg 1 odds and updated futures.

Champions League Quarterfinals Match Odds (Leg 1)

Home teams are listed first. Odds from  FanDuel Sportsbook NJ. Also visit DraftKings Sportsbook and BetStars NJ for pricing.

Ajax +290 Draw +240 Juventus -105
Tottenham +290  Draw +260 Manchester City -110
Liverpool -240 Draw +350 Porto +700
Manchester United +260 Draw +250 Barcelona +100

No real surprises here. The oddsmakers are still undervaluing Ajax, having them as a fairly big home underdog against a Juventus team that struggled on the road in the Round of 16. The other home underdogs (Tottenham, Manchester United) are facing titans in good form (Manchester City, Barcelona), so no shocker in the pricing there.

Liverpool are the only home team favored in Leg 1, listed at -240 to Porto’s long +700 odds.

Champions League Title Odds

Now that the draw has come out, the Champions League title odds have shifted with some surprises.

Manchester City +220 Juventus +270  Barcelona +380 Liverpool +390
Manchester United +1600 Tottenham +2500 Ajax +3100 Porto +9500

Juventus leaps ahead of Barcelona as second favorite, moving fro +340 on Thursday to +270 after their pairing with Ajax was drawn. It’s interesting they saw such a leap as they’ll have to go through Manchester City (presumably) in the semis to make the finals.

Along with Juve, City saw their odds slightly move (+230 to +220) as did Liverpool (+470 to +390). Barcelona got longer (+340 to +380).

 

 

Champions League Quarterfinals: Draw, Odds, Teams and Times (UPDATED)

High Press 10 March 14, 2019

UPDATE: Bumping this post in light of the Champions League Quarterfinal draw happening Friday, March 15th at 6am ET. We’ll update the post with match-ups as their drawn and odds per fixture.

2019 Champions League Quarterfinals Draw

The Champions League Quarterfinals draw takes place on Friday, March 15th at 7am ET. The draw is held at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.

Unlike the Round of 16, there are no seedings or protections (i.e. two Premier League teams could play each other, like last year when Liverpool defeated Manchester City).

The eight winners from the Round of 16 will be entered into the draw. Similar to the Round of 16, each team will play a home game with the aggregate winner advancing.

Who Is In the Champions League Quarterfinals?

We’ll add advancing teams as they complete their Round of 16 Leg 2 matches. As of Tuesday, March 5th:

  • Ajax (defeated Real Madrid 5-3 aggregate)
  • Tottenham Hotspurs (defeated Borussia Dortmund 4-0 aggregate)
  • Manchester United (defeated Paris Saint-Germain 3-3 aggregate on away goals)
  • Porto (defeated Roma 4-3 on aggregate)
  • Juventus (defeated Atletico Madrid 3-2 on aggregate)
  • Manchester City (defeated Schalke 04 bazillion-2 on aggregate)
  • Liverpool (defeated Bayern Munich 3-1 on aggregate)
  • Barcelona (defeated Lyon 5-1 on aggregate)

2019 Champions League Quarterfinals Match-Ups

Match-ups drawn for the quarterfinals are:

  • Ajax vs. Juventus (April 9)
  • Liverpool vs. Porto (April 9)
  • Tottenham vs. Manchester City (April 9)
  • Manchester United vs. Barcelona (April 9)
  • Juventus vs. Ajax (April 16)
  • Porto vs. Liverpool (April 16)
  • Manchester City vs. Tottenham (April 16)
  • Barcelona vs. Manchester United (April 16)

The winner of Ajax vs. Juventus will play the winner of Tottenham vs. Manchester City in the semis.

The winner of Liverpool vs. Porto will play the winner of Barcelona vs. Manchester United in the semis.

When Will 2019 Champions League Quarterfinals Games Be Played?

Leg 1 matches take place April 9th and 10th. Second leg matches are the following week on April 16th and 17th.

Champions League Quarterfinals Betting Odds

Leg 1 matches are listed below. Home teams are listed first.

Ajax +290 Draw +240 Juventus -105
Tottenham +290  Draw +260 Manchester City -110
Liverpool -240 Draw +350 Porto +700
Manchester United +260 Draw +250 Barcelona +100

Odds are from FanDuel Sportsbook NJ

Champions League Futures

On Thursday, March 14th, FanDuel Sportsbook NJ had the following futures.

Manchester City +230 Barcelona +340 Juventus +340 Liverpool +470
Manchester United +1000 Tottenham +1600 Ajax +2500 Porto +7000

After the quarterfinal pairings were announced, the news futures shifted to the following:

Manchester City +220 Juventus +270  Barcelona +380 Liverpool +390
Manchester United +1600 Tottenham +2500 Ajax +3100 Porto +9500

Champions League Quarterfinal Probabilities

As of March 15th, FiveThirtyEight has updated their Champions League probabilities to the following:

The draw gave Manchester City and Liverpool bumps to win the UCL. Juventus and Ajax took probability hits.

Where to Watch

In the US, games will be broadcast on TNT and streamed online at B/R Live.

 

Updated 2019 UEFA Champions League Title Odds

High Press 10 March 14, 2019

With the Champions League Quarterfinal draw tomorrow, let’s take a quick look at updated futures as listed on FanDuel Sportsbook NJ . We expect some movement on these prices based on the draw and pairings on Friday.

Manchester City +230 Barcelona +340 Juventus +340 Liverpool +470
Manchester United +1000 Tottenham +1600 Ajax +2500 Porto +7000

Manchester United Overvalued, Liverpool & Ajax Undervalued

The Favorites. First things first, City and Barca as the two favorites is no surprise. Both dominated their [far inferior] opponents in the Round of 16. City is rated as the best team on the planet. Barcelona has the best player of all time who is also possibly having his best season ever.

Overvalued. Not to take anything away from Manchester United, what they’ve done since sacking Jose Mourinho is remarkable, but are we sure they’re not more lucky than good right now? At a minimum, would they win a tie vs. either Tottenham or Ajax? Both of those clubs have a higher rating than United as of today. Tottenham at least would likely be favored if they were matched up against United (Ajax was one of our value picks against Real Madrid and just aren’t getting oddsmaker respect yet). The +1000 for United is generous. It may have more to do with Man U being a public team than on merits of being the fifth most likely to win the UCL.

Undervalued. Liverpool’s +470 is interesting. They’re the #2 ranked global club, ahead of Barcelona (#3) and Juventus (#6, and by a wide margin). They just dismantled the #4 ranked global club, Bayern Munich, at Allianz Arena.

They also have the second highest win probability according to FiveThirtyEight, doubling Juventus’ chances.

Again, some of this will shift slightly tomorrow after the draw, but based on the analytics, Liverpool has value.

The same can be said for Ajax. We’ve been beating the Ajax drum since the Round of 16, and nothing changes here. To be clear: we don’t think Ajax will win the 2019 Champions League title. However, taking out the fact that they’re not exactly a public team that receives mass support, Ajax’s pricing should be flipped with Manchester United.

 

Liverpool Defeat Bayern Munich, Premier League Sends Four Teams to Champions League Quarterfinals

High Press 10 March 13, 2019

Liverpool vs. Bayern Munich certainly lived up to expectations.

From FiveThirtyEight to oddsmakers to pundits, most expected a close, hard-fought battle. Probabilities and odds were essentially 50/50 from the the time the Champions League Round of 16 draw was announced. For at least the first 159 aggregate minutes, that’s exactly how the match-up played out.

Both squads were in fine form early on Wednesday, battling to a 1-1 draw at the half. Sadio Mane scored a stunner to put Liverpool up, and Joel Matip OG’d to level it for Bayern.

In the second half, potential PFA Player of the Year Virgil van Dijk drilled a header in the 69th minute to give Liverpool a 2-1 aggregate lead (and essentially a two goal overall lead due to away goals). The goal seemed to take the wind out of Bayern’s squad and fans sails. Sadio Mane added a brace in the 84th off a laser perfect Mohamed Salah cross, and Liverpool advances on a 3-1 aggregate.

Many on social media questioned Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp‘s midfield selection, as he left Fabinho out of the starting XI (in favor of James Milner and Jordan Henderson). However, Jordan Henderson suffered an early injury, Fabinho was inserted, and Liverpool looked like the better squad almost from that moment on.

Premier League Sends Four Team Through

When the Champions League Quarterfinals draw happens on Friday, the Premier League will have all four of its representatives available for selection.

For those standing on the “The Premier League is the Best League in the World” corner, there’s little argument that can be made against it this year. Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham, and Manchester United all proved the better squads in the Round of 16. It will be interesting to see how the quarterfinal draw plays out, as there are no restrictions as to whether the squads can play each other any more.

Barcelona Also Advance, Messi Does it All

In Wednesday’s other game, Barcelona was cruising against Lyon, then things got interesting.

Lionel Messi converted a pk in the 17th, then Luis Suárez fed an easy tap-in goal to Philippe Coutinho for a 2-0.

Lyon scored in the 58th minute, needing then only one more goal to advance (on away goals).

However, Messi, just like Ronaldo the day before, reminded everyone why he’s among the greatest of all time, scoring his brace in the 78th.  Barcelona poured it on from there, securing a 5-1 win to advance on a 5-1 aggregate.

Cristiano Ronaldo Hat Trick Propels Juventus Past Atlético Madrid into Champions League Quarterfinals

High Press 10 March 12, 2019

After last week’s thrilling upsets, surely FiveThirtyEight‘s probability models would hold this week, right?

Juventus, given only a 12% shot of advancing to the Champions League Quarterfinals, did just that, throttling Atlético Madrid 3-0 on a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick. They advance 3-2 on aggregate.

This is the first time Juventus has overcome an 0-2 deficit to advance in European championship soccer.

And say what you want about Ronaldo, and there’s plenty to say, but he produces on the biggest stages. This is exactly what Juventus paid for over the summer. Ronaldo’s first goal on a header in the 27th minute in between two defenders was world-class. His second (also on a header) in the 49th was classic Ronaldo. At that point, with the the game leveled at 2-2, the Ronaldo hat-trick felt all but inevitable. He secured it on a penalty kick in the 86th.


Juventus was -150 to win the match (albeit not by 3 goals), but advancing was still going to be a challenge. That is, unless you have Ronaldo.

Manchester City Obv

In Tuesday’s other game, Manchester City were 99%+ to advance and made Schalke 04 look like a rec team, swatting them away 7-0 to advance a staggering 10-2 on aggregate.

City are rolling at the right time. They had 72% possession, fired off 15 shots on goal (with 11 on target!) compared to Schalke’s 2 (1). Expect them to be odds-on favorites after the Champions League Quarterfinals draw on Friday at 6am ET.

Zinedine Zidane Back at Real Madrid: Why Now and What It Means for the Current Squad

High Press 10 March 11, 2019

Zinedine Zidane has returned to Real Madrid.

The club announced the sacking of Santiago Solari on Monday. Zidane, 46, will become Madrid’s third manager this campaign (Julen Lopetegui began the season and was let go in October).

Having left the club after winning his third consecutive Champions League last season, Zidane has reportedly signed a three-year contract that will take him through June 30, 2022.

Why Now?

Real Madrid are already eliminated from the Champions League Quarterfinals. In La Liga, they’re currently sitting third, 10 points clear of fifth place.  They’re in no eminent danger of not qualifying for next year’s UCL. And they’re 12 points behind Barcelona for a La Liga title.

From Real Madrid’s perspective, getting Zidane now makes all the sense in the world. They keep other potential suitors, like Juventus, away from him.

Further, Zidane had a very close relationship with his players, like Sergio Ramos. It would be reasonable to believe the players went to management and just said, “we’ve had enough, bring back Zinedine.”

From Zidane’s perspective, the answer is harder to understand.

When he left in May 2018, he said he was “desgaste” — which means “out of gas.” However, he also said he was “not out of energy.” So it’s hard to take that at face value.

Many believe the real reason Zidane bailed on Madrid last year is he saw an aging roster that needed a reboot, and he didn’t have interest in sticking around for that. That was something he did not have the energy to oversee.

Virtually nothing has changed from the time he left until now, save for Cristiano Ronaldo being gone and Vinícius showing flashes of potential.

If he wanted to come back to Real Madrid, he could’ve waited until the season was over instead of enduring a fairly meaningless two months in La Liga. If he wanted to evaluate players for a 2019-20 overhaul, well, most of those aging players (Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos) have only gotten older. There’s not much new to evaluate. There’s also not much to gain from coming back now, except a paycheck, which is fine and absolutely his right. Regardless, we expect Zidane to shed some light on this one during his introductory press conference.

What Players Should be Concerned? And Who Is Coming In?

It would be hard to imagine Zidane is coming back if he didn’t have a firm idea over who he wants to jettison this summer. The names mentioned above (at least Bale and Benzema, as Ramos would likely be safe) would be leading candidates, along with potentially Luka Modrić.

Zidane would and should want a younger squad. After raking in record revenue, expect Real Madrid to be big spenders. Targets would be for a striker (expect someone younger than Harry Kane), creative wing (Eden Hazard, which most view as inevitable at this point), creative midfielder (Philippe Coutinho could be had), and center-back (Liverpool are already removing Virgil van Dijk from consideration with a big pay raise).

While there’s still a lot in the air, one thing is for sure: change is coming to the Bernabéu.

 

Atlanta United Under Frank de Boer Feels a Lot Like Manchester United with Jose Mourinho

High Press 10 March 11, 2019

Boos rang down the Mercedes-Benz stadium after Atlanta United drew expansion club FC Cincinnati 1-1- on Sunday.

As far as any fans can remember, there has never been boos after an Atlanta United game.

The boos weren’t directed at the players. Atlanta fans love their team to a degree no other MLS city can really claim. The boos were fans expressing dissatisfaction with this new style of Five Stripes play and more specifically, at the new manager, Frank de Boer.

A Blown Lead, Uninspired Play

The game started as good as fans could hope. ATL went up in the fifth minute on a pinpoint Josef Martinez strike coming from a spot on feed from Julian Gressel.

 

The 1-0 lead acted as make-up on the ugly face of an uninspiring game. On paper, United dominated the match. They played a possession-heavy game (66-34%) and out-shot Cincinnati 10 (4 on target) to 4 (1 on target). But Atlanta generated fewer quality opportunities as the game dragged on. They engaged in a very ticky-tacky possession game with aspiring opportunities coming from direct play. Creative link-ups were non-existent. Counter-attacks were toothless, lacking numbers and quality.

Worse, the players didn’t look like they were enjoying the new system.

It all came crashing down in the 86th minute when Roland Lamah broke free from a disorganized backline and buried his strike, tying the game 1-1 and silencing the announced crowd of just over 70,000.

 

On a night when United unveiled its 2018 MLS Cup banner, the end result couldn’t be more disappointing. Atlanta were the heaviest favorites among all MLS squads this week (-240). The talent is there. The support is there. A system that works is not.

Shades of Mourinho and Sarri

Yes, it’s early. Losses away to Monterrey and DC United can be brushed off. Both are quality squads (and in Monterrey’s case, probably the best in North America). A tie at home against expansion FC Cincinnati, not so much. United are playing less than the sum of their parts right now, and that’s on de Boer.

As Paul Tenorio from The Athletic pointed out:

 

De Boer is implementing a system that doesn’t fit his players. He hasn’t adapted yet. The players don’t appear to be enjoying playing for de Boer. This all feels like Jose Mourinho at Manchester United or Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea. De Boer has taken a system that wasn’t broke (far from it) and made it worse, mostly by ignoring some things that made that personnel successful.

The critics of the de Boer hire that pointed to his stints at Inter Milan and Crystal Palace are being given plenty of fodder. It doesn’t help when de Boer, in post game comments, says that Atlanta fans have been “spoiled” and to not expect “similar results” this season.

A Few Bright Spots

Josef Martinez’s finish was legit. Julian Gressel was strong early. Ezequiel Barco looked great off ball with some interesting runs. Unfortunately, he was rarely delivered the ball on those runs. Eighteen year-old sub Andrew Carleton looked like Adam Lallana-lite, with boundless energy and interesting runs. Unfortunately, again, teammates haven’t developed either the chemistry or awareness to link up with them yet.

Other than that, this is a major work in progress. Nothing short of a (highly unlikely) mid-week rebound in the CONCACAF Champions League will go to silence a growing chorus of de Boer doubters.

 

Video: Birmingham City Fan Attacks Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish on Pitch (UPDATE)

High Press 10 March 10, 2019

Aston Villa‘s Jack Grealish was attacked on the pitch today by a Birmingham City fan during a match.

 

The attack happened less than 10 minutes into the derby game. The fan rushed Grealish, Aston Villa’s captain, who was in the Birmingham penalty area, and punched him from behind in the head.

The attacker was restrained and ushered off the pitch, blowing kisses to the fan like a doofus. Later identified as Paul Mitchell, 27, he pleaded guilty to the attack on Monday.

Another angle of the attack here:

Ugly day for British soccer.

The derby game between these two clubs is a heated affair. As seen in the gallery below, police were brought in for crowd control as emotions were running high before the game.

Check back later for more on the Jack Grealish fan attack during Birmingham City vs Aston Villa

MLS Matchweek 2 Odds: NYCFC Home Favorites Over DC United, Philadelphia Union Heavy Underdog to Sporting KC

High Press 10 March 8, 2019

The 2019 MLS season got underway last week. We learned some things, some things stayed the same.

The New York Red Bulls played their B team to save legs for the CONCACAF Champions League; NYCFC stumbled to a 2-2 draw; Atlanta United looked poor with Frank de Boer, losing 2-0 to a might-be-a-contender DC United; and Zlatan did Zlatan things (read 5 more things learned during Matchweek 1 here).

How does 2019 MLS Matchweek 2 look? Let’s examine the lines and some things to watch.

2019 MLS Matchweek 2 Game Odds

Remember, home team is listed first. If you need a refresher, visit how to bet MLS or how to bet soccer.

All listed odds from FanDuel NJ Sportsbook.

Chicago Fire -130 Draw +290 Orlando City +320
New England Revolution +135 Draw +250 Columbus Crew +190
FC Dallas -145 Draw +320 LA Galaxy +340
Houston Dynamo +105 Draw +260 Montreal Impact +230
Real Salt Lake -150 Draw +310 Vancouver Whitecaps +380
San Jose Earthquakes +135 Draw +250 Minnesota United +190
Seattle Sounders -210 Draw +360 Colorado +500
NYCFC -125 Draw +280 DC United +320
Sporting KC -135 Draw +300 Philadelphia Union +330
Atlanta United -240 Draw +390 Cincinnati +550
LAFC -140 Draw +300 Portland Timbers +340

MLS Matchweek 2 Odds and Ins

Week 1 surprisingly saw only three odds on favorites. Matchweek 2 doubles that total to six. Some notes:

  • NYCFC finds themselves at -125 (so bet $125 to win $100) at home against a potentially strong DC United (+320, so bet $100 to win $320) squad. With Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta picking up right where they left off from last year, there may be some value there with DCU. It’ll be interesting to see if NYCFC’s Alexandru Mitrita builds on a promising debut in front of the home crowd.
  • Maybe it’s more of a hunch, but we think LA Galaxy is going to have a strong, playoff-caliber year. Priced at +340, even on the road against FC Dallas, are longer odds than they may deserve. Plus, you know, Zlatan.
  • Oddly, we may know a lot about Atlanta United (this week’s biggest favorite at -240) after this weekend’s match against expansion FC Cincinatti (biggest dog at +550). Another poor de Boer showing and the #DeBoerOut movement will grow exponentially. Perhaps giving the team some run back in Tata Martino’s successful 3-5-2 system (instead of the 3-4-3 that’s definitely not working) will snap United out of its early funk. If de Boer has learned anything from his previous two wildly unsuccessful stops at Inter and Palace, it might be to not stubbornly stick with something that’s not working–especially when you know something will work with the personnel you have.

 

Manchester City Facing UEFA and Premier League Financial Fair Play Investigations, Champions League Ban Possible (UPDATE)

High Press 10 March 8, 2019

European football’s governing body, UEFA, is investigating financial fair play (FFP) violations by Manchester City.

The investigation puts City’s Champions League eligibility into question.

In a statement, UEFA said:

“The investigation will focus on several alleged violations of FFP that were recently made public in various media outlets.”

German publication Der Spiegel reported that the independent Football Leaks investigative project uncovered club documents revealing City inflated sponsor fees. CNN reportedthat City, “also allegedly concealed a player investment fund, which would allow the club to hold equity in promising players — so-called “third-party ownership (TPO), something banned by UEFA and the Premier League — by using a company in the Cayman Islands, the newspaper reported.”

Premier League Investigating Too…

The Premier League has also issued a statement regarding City’s alleged FPP violations:

 

How Could City be Punished?

This isn’t City’s first brush with FFP allegations. They faced controversy in 2012 around the naming rights of Etihad Stadium. Despite the likely impropriety of the deal and there wasn’t exactly a second bidder, City consulted UEFA before the deal was made, and UEFA didn’t investigate it further.

City are also under FA investigation for an alleged £200,000 payment to the agent of Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho when the he was just 14.

Regardless, it’s HIGHLY unlikely the Premier League deduct points from City this year (sorry Liverpool fans) or strip them of past titles.

UEFA could certainly impose a Champions League ban on City and levy a fine against them.

Ultimately, the fine wouldn’t hurt. That’s pocket change for Sheikh Mansour / Abu Dhabi United Group / City. A Champions League ban though? That would leave a mark.

We’re sure a lot more will come of this in the coming weeks and months. Grab your popcorn.

What Is the CONCACAF Champions League? And a Look at the Quarterfinals Bracket

High Press 10 March 6, 2019

The 2019 CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals start Tuesday, March 5th and conclude Wednesday, March 13th. It’s a two-leg, aggregate round.

What is the CONCACAF Champions League?

For those unfamiliar, think of the CONCACAF Champions League as literally the exact same thing as the UEFA Champions League, except only with teams from the Americas (North, Central, Caribbean). These are clubs from countries in the same region that the USMNT would play against for World Cup qualification.

Who Qualifies for the CONCACAF Champions League?

It’s a fairly similar set-up as the UEFA Champions League, except on a smaller scale. With CONCACAF, 16 teams participate: nine teams from North American (four from MLS, four from Liga MX, and one from Canada), at least five teams from Central American (consisting of champions from Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, and El Salvador), and at least one team from the Caribbean.

Historically, in the modern era (since 2008), Mexico has dominated the CONCACAF Champions League. By dominated, we mean a Liga MX team has literally one every single championship since 2008.

The United States has only produced one finalist in the modern era (Real Salt Lake in 2010-11) and the MLS has produced three total finalists (the aforementioned Real Salt Lake, Montreal Impact, and Toronto FC).

2019 CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals Match-Ups

The quarterfinal match-ups are home at home, two leg series, just like the UEFA Champions League. The MLS placed all four of their teams in to the quarterfinals.

Tuesday, March 5th:

  • New York Red Bulls (MLS) vs. Santos Lagunas (Liga MX)
  • Houston Dynamo (MLS) vs.  Tigres UANL (Liga MX)

Wednesday, March 6th:

  • Club Atlético Independiente (Panama) vs. Sporting KC (MLS)
  • CF Monterrey (Liga MX) vs. Atlanta United (MLS)

Tuesday, March 12th:

  • Santos Lagunas (Liga MX) vs. New York Red Bulls (MLS)
  • Tigres UANL (Liga MX) vs. Houston Dynamo (MLS)

Wednesday, March 13th:

  • Sporting KC (MLS) vs. Club Atlético Independiente (Panama)
  • Atlanta United (MLS) vs. CF Monterrey (Liga MX)

Ajax Stun Real Madrid to Advance to Champions League Quarterfinals

High Press 10 March 5, 2019

We called this one here and here.

Ajax, down 1-2 aggregate after a Leg 1 home loss, throttled Real Madrid 4-1 on Tuesday. The win advances Ajax to the 2019 Champions League Quarterfinals on a 5-3 aggregate.

Ajax did so with a number of stunning goals.

Defending champs Real Madrid, winners of 13 total Champions League trophies (most overall), three in a row, and four of the past five, exit before the quarterfinals for the first time since 2009-10.

Champions League Round of 16 Leg 2: Can Ajax, BVB, Porto or Manchester United Still Advance?

High Press 10 March 5, 2019

The Champions League Round of 16 resumes play with Leg 2 matches this week and next.

On the docket Tuesday are Borussia Dortmund vs. Tottenham Hotspur, and Real Madrid vs. Ajax.

On Wednesday, Paris Saint-Germain host Manchester United, and FC Porto welcome AS Roma.

Can Any Leg 1 Losers Still Advance?

Absolutely.

Of the four who lost their Leg 1 matches, let’s rule Manchester United out now. They failed to score at home, need a 3-0 way win to advance, and PSG simply have too much firepower. PSG are now second favorite (over Barcelona no less!) to win the Champions League according to FiveThirtyEight and 97% to advance, and they’ve even moved to co-second favorite in betting markets, listed at +550 (along with Barcelona) on FanDuel NJ. They’re the one lock this week.

It’s also safe to rule out Borussia Dortmund. They got absolutely shellacked by Tottenham, losing their Leg 1 away match 3-0. Their recent run of form would make any Liverpool fan actually feel good about themselves. BVB have been poor. The only things that keep this from being a mortal lock are 1) Dortmund are home, and 2) you never know when Spurs are gonna Spurs.

It would be very Spursian for them to collapse 5-1 here. Still, it’s unlikely. The Spurs will hang on.

That leaves Porto vs. Roma and Real Madrid vs. Ajax.

How Porto and Ajax Can Advance

First, FiveThirtyEight has Porto at 44% to advance and Ajax at 25%. One of these two will likely find their way into the Champions League Quarterfinals.

Porto is at home, and are only down 2-1 aggregate. Ajax are away, also down 2-1.

A case can be made that Ajax was overall the better team vs. Real Madrid in Leg 1. Possession was equal, and they outshot Los Blancos 19 (7) to 13 (8). They did not appear to be out of their depth. While Real Madrid has struggled with form, Ajax have a 13-1 goal differential over their last three games (caveat: it’s in the Eredivisie, where the average team is MLS quality). They’re rested. They’re young. They have a better chance than you’d think.

Despite this, Ajax find themselves a heavy underdog, priced at +410 just to win the game. Mikky Kiemeney (above), wife of Frenkie de Jong (soon to be of Barcelona fame) clearly do not care about your odds.

As for Porto, they are simply a better team right now than Roma. They’re at home. They’re favored to win at +100. It would be more surprising if they didn’t advance.

Expect either Porto or Ajax to make their way into the Quarterfinals. Ajax is the better team, but Porto has the more favorable match-up.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic Scores LA Galaxy Winner in 2019 MLS Opener

High Press 10 March 3, 2019

Zlatan did Zlatan things again, and the MLS and LA Galaxy are better off for it.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, our pick for MLS Golden Boot winner and MVP this year, got the LA Galaxy off to the right start today, heading in the 2-1 game winner in the 80th minute against the Chicago Fire.

We’ll deeper dive into the MLS action come Monday, but other highlights from Saturday include:

  • FC Cincinatti lose their opener to the Seattle Sounders 3-1
  • Michael Bradley nets a brace (!!) as Toronto FC beats Philadelphia Union 3-1
  • NYCFC draw Orlando City (!!) 2-2
  • And the New York Red Bulls a 1-1 draw against a Columbus Crew team not skipping a beat despite the loss of Gregg Berhalter

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