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Preview: New York Red Bulls vs. LAFC

Peter Nolan August 10, 2019

Who: LAFC vs NY Red Bulls
When: SUN AUG 11, 10:00 PM ET on FS1 · TSN 1/4 · FOX Sports GO
Line: LAFC -315 | Draw +440 | +700

Already the best team in MLS by a wide margin, the Los Angeles Football Club has just added highly rated 19-year-old Uruguayan midfielder Brian Hernandez from Penarol as a Young Designated Player.

Diego Rossi also came to LAFC from Penarol, signing with the new LA side in December of 2017. Hernandez starred for Uruguay at the recent U20 World Cup and has experience playing in both the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana.

As L.A.’s Bob Bradley-led juggernaut welcomes the New York Red Bulls to the Banc of California Park for a Sunday night showdown, NYRB has some transfer news of its own. The Red Bulls have just put pen to paper on a loan deal for 22 year-old winger Josh Sims, who comes to New York from Southampton on a Young DP contract for the rest of 2019.

Sims has made 20 Premier League appearances for the Saints, earning important minutes at the end of last season as Southampton successfully fought to secure its Premier League status.

With visa issues still to be resolved neither newcomer will be available on Sunday, although there will be plenty of talent on hand, particularly in the black and gold of the home team.

LAFC vs New York Red Bulls Match Preview

At 9 wins, 0 losses, and 1 draw, Los Angeles has a near-perfect home mark. They are not too bad on the road either, where they are 7-3-3.

The Red Bulls, third now in a tightly packed Eastern Conference, cannot come close to LA’s numbers and are 3-4-3 away from Red Bull Arena. If Chris Armas’ men are to get a result out of their cross country jaunt they will need to take some steps toward re-establishing the defensive chemistry that led New York’s MLS originals to the league’s best defensive record in 2018.

Perhaps the closing of the MLS transfer window on midnight Wednesday, August 7 will do the Red Bulls some good in that respect, now that Aaron Long knows where he will be playing his soccer for the immediate future.

The 2018 MLS Defender of the Year was reportedly close to a move to the Premier League’s West Ham, with other clubs in other league’s also said to be bidding for him. Long is a professional and seems unlikely to go into a funk, but performance levels have been known to drop when players are denied a move.

Long, goalkeeper Luis Robles and all the Red Bulls will need a big performance against L.A. who leads the league with 61 goals, 14 goals better than Philadelphia, second in MLS with 46.

Of course, goalkeeper Tyler Miller, center backs Walker Zimmerman and Eddie Segura have led LAFC to the best defensive record in the league, with LA having surrendered just 23 goals.

Of late, however, that defensive shield has shown a crack or two, with LA conceding twice after having built a 3-0 lead versus Atlanta on July 26. LAFC managed to close out that win, badly needed after Zlatan Ibrahimovich had hung a hattrick on them the previous week in a 3-2 loss to the L.A. Galaxy.

LA got back on track with a 2-0 win Saturday at New England behind goals from Diego Rossi and Latif Blessing. Rossi is second on the team and fourth in the league with 13 goals, with likely MVP Carlos Vela setting the pace with his MLS leading 22 goals and 13 assists, level with NYCFC’s Maxi Moralez for the top spot on the helpers chart.

With a very impressive record of 16 wins, 3 losses, and four draws, LAFC has obviously been consistent all season. From a points dropped standpoint, LA’s worst stretch was when they drew consecutive matches, 1-1 at Seattle on April 28 and 0-0 at home to Chicago on May 4.

As for the Red Bulls, consistently inconsistent might be the best way to describe their 2019 season. Going back to a pair of wins, 4-0 over Real Salt Lake on June 1, and 2-0 versus Cinncinatti on May 25, the Red Bull have alternated wins with losses, with just a 3-3 draw with Atlanta on July 7 breaking the win, lose, win, lose pattern.

NYRB are heavy underdogs at +700. With a +7 goal differential compared to LAFC’s +38, and on the road, they should be. Oddsmakers have the most likely outcome a 3-0 LAFC win (+800), meaning this could be a long night for the Red Bulls.

Previewing Atlanta United vs. LAFC: Tactical Notes from Marquee Match-Up

July 25, 2019

LAFC lost again to the LA Galaxy in last week’s LA Derby. Afterwards, critics raged that LAFC wilt under the pressure of big games.

Perhaps it is a bit much to proclaim that this team — arguably the most dominant and talented MLS has ever seen — can’t get it done in one-off, all-important matches, but there is some history here.

LAFC have never beaten the Galaxy, their bitter rival. They lost at home in the playoffs last year to Real Salt Lake, a heavy underdog. Nine days before the latest loss to the Galaxy, they dropped a US Open Cup quarterfinal to the Portland Timbers.

Their struggles in these types of games has a bit of a Pep Guardiola Manchester City feel to it, the way that LAFC don’t quite choke, per se, but instead simply don’t win, failing to live up to their regular level.

It is a phenomenon that Bob Bradley and co. will deal with and hear about until they win a big game. This year’s playoffs, which will be the ultimate measuring stick for their legacy, should prove something of a testing ground. In MLS, you can’t truly be the league’s best team if you don’t win MLS Cup. Everyone understands it, as brutal as it can be for regular season winners who falter in one-off games. 

As LAFC cruise to a resounding Supporters’ Shield win (the probability of which sits at 95 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight), they will continue to face questions about their ability to pick up the crucial wins that will be required of them.

LAFC vs Atlanta United Preview

This Friday’s blockbuster against Atlanta United won’t come close to the importance of an El Trafico game, or a tournament game. But it’s an opportunity to play against a marquee team on national television. 

Atlanta have been mercurial and sometimes mediocre this season, but they are coming off a nice six-point week and have still managed to reach second in the Eastern Conference. Pity Martinez looked kinda good off the bench in their win against D.C. United on Sunday. 

Let’s take a look at a couple of tactical notes ahead of one of the more interesting matches of the MLS season.

1 – It’s probably a bit premature to say that Pity Martinez has reached some meaningful new level. By this point, he’s not going to suddenly turn into the superstar we all thought he was. But if he starts improving and becomes playable again for coach Frank de Boer, Atlanta’s calculus changes this season.

De Boer’s played a 3-5-2 in each of the last two games, bringing Pity off the bench and playing Brandon Vazquez alongside Josef Martinez up top. It has not been a perfect solution, but Atlanta look better playing three-at-the-back, and Vazquez’s presence as a pure No. 9 adds a new wrinkle for teams defending Josef. With a hold-up striker diverting attention, space can theoretically open Atlanta’s star.

When Vazquez starts in that 3-5-2, though, there is no obvious place for Pity. Sticking him at the top of the midfield is untenable defensively with Darlington Nagbe already playing as a finesse box-to-box No. 8. It’s debatable whether Pity is best used as a second striker underneath Josef anyway, but it’s not like Pity has been good enough that de Boer should shape the formation to fit him.

A late goal and assist to slip past DCU will probably be enough to get Pity back in the lineup, most likely replacing Vazquez. Atlanta will have to have Pity be a difference-maker on the ball, and also manage to not make costly turnovers.

2 — This might be something of a redemption game for LAFC’s midfield, which did not perform to its usual high level in the loss to the Galaxy. They were outworked, a point Bob Bradley made after the game, and struggled to distribute the ball effectively.

It’s hard to see the Galaxy’s approach being repeatable for other clubs, though, especially without a player like Jonathan dos Santos in there. LAG had to work really hard to avoid losing the midfield battle, and there was nothing tactical they did (outside of maybe focusing more on Eduard Atuesta) that presents any sort of blueprint for other teams to use.

This game will come down to whether Atlanta bunkers or not — I’m betting they will, to an extent, but try to keep a ton of possession when they get the ball. LAFC are too good, particularly at home, to not drive opponents back and force them to play a deep defensive line. Pushing your defense forward with an aggressive possession shape against Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi is death.

De Boer might end up learning that lesson the hard way. If Atlanta get blitzed, a de Boer misstep may well be the cause. 

Bob Bradley probably won’t make some fatal tactical mistake. He’s Bob Bradley. But LAFC can be beat (remember when they lost 1-0 at Colorado with an A- XI?), and Atlanta, as we all know, have a certain bit of game-breaking talent. We’ll see it play out Friday night.

Could This LAFC Team Compete in Europe?

Chops July 22, 2019

Watching Zlatan Ibrahimovic go off for a hat trick Friday night as LA Galaxy and LAFC played a thrilling, physical, proper derby, we started thinking:

If one of Europe’s best players this century could single-handedly sink one of MLS’s best teams ever, how well would LAFC compete in European leagues?

To figure this out, we’ll explore:

  • How good is LAFC in MLS?
  • How much talent does LAFC have on their roster?
  • How does MLS compare to European leagues?
  • How does LAFC statistically stack up against European clubs?

How good is this year’s LAFC?

LAFC is a legitimate MLS juggernaut. Even with Friday’s loss, their third of the season, LAFC are still 9 points clear of Galaxy in the Western conference. More impressively, they have an absurd +35 goal differential after 21 games.

For comparison’s sake, last year’s MLS Cup winner and juggernaut themselves, Atlanta United, finished the 34-game season +26.

The best goal differential in MLS history belongs to the 1998 LA Galaxy squad. Propelled by Cobi Jones leading the attack and Kevin Hartman between the sticks, that team finished +41 in a very different looking, quality-deprived league.

LAFC at +35 will likely blow the best goal differential record out of the water.

While goal differential is a much stronger indicator of a team’s quality than wins and losses, LAFC also have the single-season points record in their sights. That currently belongs to last year’s New York Red Bulls at 71. However, that team “only” was +29 for the season.

So it’s reasonable to say that after 21 games, LAFC are on track to record the greatest team season in MLS history.

How much talent is on LAFC’s roster?

LAFC have legitimate top-shelf talent…for MLS.

While Zlatan thinks (and for one night showed) otherwise, Carlos Vela has consistently been the best player in MLS all year. LAFC are dominant, but the real strength is their attack. Looking at WhoScored data, LAFC have four of the best 11 players (statistically) so far this season. All are midfielders / forwards:

How far ahead is Vela compared to the rest of the league?

For comparison’s sake, last year’s best player in MLS, Miguel Almiron, rated 7.7 on WhoScored. As we say, WhoScored isn’t the end all be all, but provides a solid measuring stick. Almiron was sold to Newcastle for $26M USD. Vela would never fetch the same price as Miggy (age being the biggest reason). However, Almiron stepped right in and was a top-half-of-the-roster contributor on a mid-table Premier League team. That would be a reasonable expectations for Vela (he’d even slot in well with a team like Wolverhampton).

After Vela, nobody on LAFC’s roster would likely earn starter minutes on any Prem squad other than recently promoted clubs or an off-team with a glaring positional hole. Domestic talent is there. Top European quality talent is sparse.

To further that point, LAFC’s total roster value is just over $43M. The below graphic is Transfermarkt’s top XI in the MLS in terms of value. These are the ballpark values clubs would expect to receive in transfer offers. It’s worth noting that Aaron Long is not among the four most valued defenders.

Anyway, market value has a startling direct correlation to team performance. Just look at Premier League team market values and where they finished in the table. Top 6 is almost in exact order of finish. Teams 7-10 are too, it’s just missing Wolves.

LAFC would have the 19th most expensive roster in the Premier League, and the lion’s share of that value is tied to one player.

MLS’ total league-wide market value is $652.53M USD. There are six teams in the Premier League alone with higher market values than the MLS as a league. MLS’ total value is comparable with Arsenal ($662M), who may not even crack the top 6 this year.

How does MLS compare to other leagues?

Poorly.

This is no besmirchment on MLS. It improves in quality every year. Other global domestic leagues have anywhere from a 40 to 100+ year head start on them.

We’re working on a larger post on this topic for early August. However, looking at Global Soccer Rankings on FiveThirtyEight and transfermarkt values, MLS would rank behind the following domestic leagues without question:

  • English Premier League
  • La Liga
  • Bundesliga
  • Serie A
  • Ligue 1
  • Primiera Liga
  • Premier League (Russia)
  • Süper Lig (Turkey)
  • Eredivisie
  • Liga MX

Other leagues like Super League (Switzerland) or Superliga (Argentina) have better top end teams and weaker bottom end clubs.

The point, LAFC is dominating a deep league… that lacks depth in the upper ranks.

So how would LAFC as a team do in Europe’s top leagues?

Yeah, sooo…

If you go strictly off their Global Club Rank (unfortunately ClubElo doesn’t track MLS, but we’ll approximate them) and transfermarkt values, then you get the following baselines:

  • LAFC has a Global Club Rank of 114.
  • Their transfermarkt total would put them 19th out of 20 Premier League teams and somewhere among the bottom 3 for La Liga, Bundesliga, and Serie A.
  • Their ClubElo rank then would approximate around 1575, which would be a top tier Championship level team.

So how would LAFC do in Europe?

  • Premier League: They’d be a relegation candidate / would not qualify. They’d do well in the Championship.
  • La Liga: Their roster value would put them in the relegation zone. However, their Global Soccer Ranking and ClubElo would have them as a top La Liga 2 squad.
  • Bundesliga: Just copy+paste La Liga here. They likely wouldn’t qualify or would be a relegation candidate if they did. They’d be a top level Bundesliga 2 team.
  • Serie A: Financially, Serie A is a bit stronger on the bottom end than the Bundesliga and La Liga. However, their Global Club Rankings and ClubElo indicate that LAFC would be right around the relegation zone.
  • Ligue 1: I don’t really consider Ligue 1 in the same class as the other four leagues. It’s a big 4, not a big 5. To that point, LAFC would likely be a mid-table Ligue 1 squad. This is the first of the major European domestic leagues where they’d not only qualify, but hang.

After that, you could drop LAFC in the Netherlands or Portugal and while they wouldn’t compete for titles, they’d comfortably survive each year in the top half of the table.

So yes, LAFC is perhaps the greatest MLS squad of all time. But no, they wouldn’t compete with even the bottom teams of the top 4 European leagues just yet.

MLS is a good product that’s come a long ways. There’s still some distance from it’s top end and the rest of the world.

Zlatan Takes Shot at Carlos Vela, Then Scores Hat Trick, and LA Galaxy vs LAFC is MLS’s First Real Derby (VIDEO)

Chops July 20, 2019

LA Galaxy vs LAFC wasted no time living up to the media fueled hype.

And he’s prone to do, Zlatan Ibrahimovic helped pour some of the gasoline.

This game had MLS’ biggest star shining in the brightest match of the season and took a new rivalry to true derby status.

Zlatan takes shot at Carlos Vela

Leading up to the game, LA Galaxy #9 Zlatan did his customary self-flagellating.

However, this time he did it at the expense of LAFC star and MLS presumptive MVP Carlos Vela.

In an ESPN FC interview, Zlatan claims he’s the best player in MLS (props to Zlatan for not adding the “the” in front of MLS as well). He also points out that, at 29, Vela is in his prime tearing up MLS–and not Europe.

Zlatan was with AC Milan for his age 29 season. He scored 14 goals in 29 domestic games that year. The final months of his year 29 was also with Milan and ended up being one of his better European seasons. He scored 28 goals in 32 domestic games and 5 goals in 8 other European matches.

Vela has 21 goals in 20 games for LAFC in MLS competition this year.

Vela responds by burying one from the spot

Vela must’ve heard Zlatan, because he wasted no time putting LAFC up in this derby.

After driving into the box and getting taken down by Galaxy keeper David Bingham, he cooly converted a penalty in the 4th minute, giving LAFC a 1-0 lead.

Zlatan immediately responds with a stunner and follows with a hat trick

Zlatan saw Vela score on a penalty and said, “hold my öl.”

In the 8th minute, Zlatan responds with a goal that only he is capable of scoring in MLS competition.

From there, Zlatan added to his tally, netting a header in the 56th.

He completed his hat trick with another blast in the 70th, giving Galaxy a 3-1 lead.

Vela scored one in the closing seconds of stoppage time. He appeared to be in an off-sides position, but the refs let it stand. Galaxy hung on for the 3-2 win. LAFC loses their 3rd game of the season. They looked out-classed by Galaxy. Zlatan looked like the real MVP.

MLS has a real derby

While nobody will confuse LAFC vs Galaxy with Manchester United vs Manchester City, Liverpool vs Everton, or Real Madrid vs Atlético Madrid–make no mistake–this is a real derby.

It was physical. It was feisty. The crowd was loud. This game mattered.

Just like Atlanta United has provided a template for how soccer can work on a large scale in America, LAFC vs Galaxy shows just because you don’t have a 100 year history doesn’t mean you can’t have a derby with some good old fashion hatred.

Complete MLS Midseason Award Picks

July 12, 2019

With the MLS season just past its halfway point, now is as good a time as ever to do some awards. We’ll do the real awards and mix in plenty of other player and team prizes.

Let’s go!

MVP: Carlos Vela, LAFC

This one is as consensus a selection as you’re going to get. Carlos Vela has a ridiculous 19 goals and 12 assists in 19 games, on pace for the best season in MLS history. He is the best player on the best team. He does so much beyond scoring that he has left little debate as to who the best player in the league is.

Finalists: Maxi Moralez (NYCFC), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy)

Moralez has 6g, 11a as NYCFC’s fulcrum. The Light Blues have two losses all season and are tied for the Eastern Conference lead on points-per-game.

Zlatan is second in the league in goals and dictates everything that makes the Galaxy successful. He also dictates everything that holds them back — he does little defensive work and has an outwardly poor attitude.

Defender of the Year: Walker Zimmerman, LAFC

It’s hard not to give this award to Walker Zimmerman, who has clearly been the best defender in the league. His performance earned him a regular starting job in the USMNT’s Gold Cup backline.

Finalists: Miles Robinson (Atlanta), Larrys Mabiala (Portland)

Coach of the Year: Jim Curtain, Philadelphia

Philly has risen to first-place in the Eastern Conference with a defined style of play, emphasizing the strengths of its players and playing quality possession soccer. Jim Curtain’s trust of guys like Brenden Aaronson has spurred the Union’s surge.

Finalists: Bob Bradley (LAFC), Matias Almeyda (San Jose)

Goalkeeper of the Year: Stefan Ffrei, Seattle Sounders

I had a hard time coming up with a clear top contender for this one. Stefan Frei has continued to be solid in Seattle, so I’ll give it to him.

Finalists: Sean Johnson (NYCFC), Maxime Crepeau (Vancouver Whitecaps)

Newcomer of the Year: Alejandro Pozuelo, Toronto FC

Alejandro Pozuelo has easily been TFC’s best player, with seven goals and eight assists so far in his debut season.

It would be a very good bet, though, that Portland forward Brian Fernandez will have this award on lock by the end of the year. The Timbers promise to win a good portion of their home game slate in the second half of the season, and Fernandez has been scoring at a goal-per-game pace.

Finalists: Fernandez, Kacper Przybylko (Philadelphia)

Most Improved Player: Latif Blessing, LAFC

Latif Blessing has been a Best XI-level performer in midfield for LA. He has gone from a super-utility player to one of the league’s best ball-moving and ground-covering midfielders in the league. Fellow LA midfielder Eduard Atuesta would’ve been a reasonable pick here as well.

Honorable mentions: Jackson Yueill (San Jose), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas), Atuesta, Lamine Sane (Orlando), Memo Rodriguez (Houston)

Best team: LAFC

I mean.

Honorable mention: Philadelphia Union

Worst team: FC Cincinnati

Cincy have lost 13 of their 19 games and are the running favorite for the Wooden Spoon. They went to Minnesota and got annihilated 7-1 on June 29. As they continue to search for a coach, their roster is in a “tear it all down” stage.

Honorable mention: Columbus Crew

With Colorado and New England starting to figure themselves out, it’s been an especially bad year for Ohio teams.

Biggest surprise: The rise of the Union

Watching Philly transition from an interesting young team to a clear MLS elite has been a joy. They’ve done so through a well-crafted style of play, the growth of several players, and smart signings (Kai Wagner, Kacper Przybylko, Jamiro Monteiro, Sergio Santos). We await the rise of Marco Fabian.

Honorable mentions: LAFC’s complete dominance, San Jose’s turnaround, Orlando’s new foundation

Biggest disappointment: Columbus’s plummet

The Crew started the season competently and then tumbled harshly to the surface, pushed off the ledge by a rash of injuries (Milton Valenzuela, Federico Higuain, Harrison Afful) and static coaching. As much as Caleb Porter wanted to run it all back, it just wouldn’t work. Big changes are on the horizon in Columbus.

Honorable mentions: Houston’s road stagnation, Toronto’s slow first half

Team that should improve: Portland Timbers

This is the easiest answer: Portland have a few games in hand on most Western Conference teams and will play the vast majority of their remaining matches at home. Sitting ninth in the west now, the Timbers should rise at least a few spots by the end of the year.

Honorable mentions: New York Red Bulls, Sporting KC

Team that might regress: Montreal Impact

Montreal are fourth in the east now, but feel the heat of NYCFC on their back. NYCFC have four games in hand and are just one point behind the Impact. The Red Bulls and possibly Toronto FC (with Omar Gonzalez and one or two TAM attackers arriving) could overtake the Impact as well and toss them out of the playoff race.

MLS Matchday 8 Betting Lines: LAFC vs Seattle, DC United vs NYCFC Highlight This Week’s Game

High Press 10 April 18, 2019

MLS Matchday 8 lines are out. The absolute marquee match-up is a battle between the two top Western Conference teams: LAFC, who are also possibly the best team in MLS, vs Seattle.

Eastern Conference leaders DC United host still winless (with 5 draws in 6 games!) but hungry NYCFC.

MLS Matchweek 8 Game Odds

As always, home team is listed first. If you need a refresher, visit how to bet MLS or how to bet soccer. All listed odds from April 10 on FanDuel Sportsbook NJ.

Friday, April 19
FC Cincinnati -115Draw +280Real Salt Lake +280
Toronto FC -160Draw +320Minnesota +390
LA Galaxy -125Draw +290Houston Dynamo +310
Saturday, April 20
Chicago Fire -160Draw +310Colorado +420
Philadelphia Union -145Draw +290Montreal +380
Orlando City -175Draw +340Vancouver +430
Atlanta United -155Draw +300FC Dallas +400
New England Revolution +145Draw +250New York Red Bulls +175
Columbus Crew -170Draw +320Portland Timbers +430
San Jose +260Draw +280Sporting KC -105
Sunday, April 21
DC United -115 Draw +270 NYCFC+290
LAFC -140Draw +310 Seattle +340

Odds and Ends

  • Yes, LAFC are the best team in MLS. However, some of LAFC’s placement as top team is because Seattle have two games-in-hand. Seattle at +340 this season against anyone is a bit long. Some value in Seattle at that price or the +310 draw.
  • Speaking of draws, call it a hunch, or call it “they’ve literally drawn 5 of 6 matches to date,” but NYCFC at +270 for an even end results is a good price.
  • New York Red Bulls traveling to New England are basically getting the exact same odds as Atlanta United did last week. ATL dominated. NYRB at +175 is tasty.
  • And speaking of the Five Stripes, are they really back yet? If they’re win over New England wasn’t so much a sign of things to come as it was simply “New England sucks,” then Dallas at +400 or the draw at +300 are good prices.

Is LAFC the Best Team in MLS?

April 9, 2019

LAFC, at five wins and a draw in six games, sit atop the MLS standings. They picked apart D.C. United in a marquee weekend matchup, winning 4-0 and upping their goal differential to a monstrous +14. They’ve won their last two matches by a combined 9-0. Their attacking nuance and creativity sets them apart.

How LAFC is dominating

Carlos Vela is staking a very real campaign for being the best player in the league, leading MLS in both goals and assists. Diego Rossi is second in goals, and Latif Blessing is tied for second in assists. LA attacks with firepower and has found balance down the lineup, freeing the Vela-Rossi attacking combo to run into space and combine.

Blessing, though, has been a big difference-maker. Having started the season as an every-position utility player, Blessing is now a ball-moving number 8, rotating the ball everywhere and slithering into half-spaces. He has grown exponentially as a passer, and begun to realize how his dribbling abilities unlock passing opportunities.

Next to Mark-Anthony Kaye, Blessing patrols large swaths of the field and puts the ball in good areas with help from Eduard Atuesta, a calm, competent presence on the ball. If we learned anything from the We are LAFC documentary on ESPN+, it’s that Andre Horta won’t be much of a factor for this team in the future, but the emergence of Atuesta and Blessing have assuaged concerns over a missed opportunity with Horta.

Central midfield had often been LA’s weakest point in their expansion season, especially after a devastating Kaye injury in July. Opponents sliced through it, and the slow, over-aggressive center back tandem of Walker Zimmerman and, for the first half of the season, Laurent Ciman was not the right personnel to deal with it. With Blessing, Kaye and Atuesta, LAFC now have one of the best passing midfields in MLS.

The backline has solidified as well. Zimmerman is in the USMNT pool. Eddie Segura, LA’s biggest off-season get, has proven a valid starter. Jordan Harvey and Steven Beitashour are experienced MLS vets manning the flanks. Tyler Miller is growing into a top 10 goalkeeper in MLS. It’s a deep starting XI all the way through.

But the front three, with Vela, Rossi and either Christian Ramirez or Adama Diomande, shreds opponents. Vela darts inside from the right flank and fills space behind the center forward, cutting in on his magical left foot and probing outside the box. With Rossi seeing everything Vela sees, the attack hums at a pace too fast for MLS defenders.

Rossi is a clinical finisher who knows who to put himself in goal-scoring positions, only he does it off the wing — adding a runner, poacher and creator to an attack revolving around Vela and the striker. Diomande and Ramirez make the right runs and see chances as a result.

This all happens without sacrificing too many bodies going forward. Bob Bradley has the well-oiled machine he wants, and has found exactly the right role for his superstar in Vela. LA look like the league’s best team as others (like the Red Bulls and Atlanta) drop unexpectedly. They have the depth, system and top-tier talent to stick at the top of the Western Conference.

MLS Matchday 6 Betting Odds: Red Bulls, NYCFC Home Favorites; DC United vs LAFC Game of the Week

High Press 10 April 3, 2019

MLS Matchday 6 lines are out.

The marquee match-up is easily Eastern leaders DC United against Western leaders LAFC. That’s required viewing if you’re a MLS fan.

MLS Matchweek 6 Game Odds

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

All listed odds from April 03 on FanDuel Sportsbook NJ.

Friday, April 05
Vancouver Whitecaps +170Draw +260 LA Galaxy+145
Saturday, April 06
NYCFC -140Draw +310Montreal Impact +340
Toronto FC -180Draw +350Chicago Fire +430
DC United +130Draw +270LAFC +190
New York Red Bulls -175Draw +330Minnesota United +450
Orlando City -130Draw +300Colorado Rapids +310
Philadelphia Union -110Draw +260FC Dallas +290
Columbus Crew -180Draw +320New England +480
San Jose +175Draw +260Portland Timbers +135
Seattle Sounders -230Draw +360Real Salt Lake +600
Sunday, April 07
FC Cincinnati +125Draw +250Sporting KC +210

Odds and Ends

  • So, yeah, we said it looks like oddsmakers have adjusted. Yet, the New York Red Bulls are heavy favorites against Minnesota United despite ‘Sota having a better goal differential (by 1, but still). How can this be? In part, the Red Bulls have been unlucky. Their xGF is less than their actual tally. Minnesota, on the other hand, have been lucky. Golden opportunity for the Red Bulls to regress to the mean and earn a W.
  • Bottom-dwelling NYCFC, albeit at home, find themselves heavy favorites against mid-table Montreal. How can this be? Again, look at their goal differential. Both are -4 after four games. Montreal in particular is a sieve on defense, conceding 11 goals. This could be a high-scoring affair. Look at high tally goal props on this one.
  • Looking for some value underdogs? Sporting KC at +210, a superior team to a still surprisingly solid FC Cincinnati, and FC Dallas at +290 against Philadelphia Union are both worth a longer look.
  • A value favorite is Orlando City at home. At only -130 against a middling Colorado team, those are some short odds for a clearly superior team.
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