Atlanta United v Orlando City
Live on Sky Sports Football
These two came together last week in Orlando, and the visitors were fortunate to come away with a victory after Orlando had done pretty well to stifle Atlanta for large parts of the game. It was only a piece of real magic from Hector Villalba that grabbed a late win, both for the MLS newbies and for this column.
There had been a downpour prior to that match in Florida, and thunderstorms which very nearly caused its postponement, and at times the pitch got in the way of the game. I think we'll see a very different kind of encounter in the return, and expect goals.
I know that Atlanta have now kept three clean sheets in their last four games, and the addition of Brad Guzan makes them yet more solid, but Guzan had to be at his very best last week, and Atlanta look a little creaky defensively. Orlando may have failed to score on seven occasions so far this season, but I fancy that they might get on the scoresheet here.
There's nothing to worry about with regards to Atlanta going forward, well though Orlando defended against them last week. Jonathan Spector knits the Floridian backline together, and often appears to be a one-man defence. He can't do that every week, though, and Orlando are susceptible.
The addition of Dom Dwyer, after a remarkable trade from Sporting KC, strengthens the idea that Orlando will be able to pose more of a threat, and with the weather kinder, and more conducive to Atlanta's free-flowing high press, I anticipate a very different kind of match this week, and see the home team winning a high-scoring game.
Over 3.5 Goals in Orlando City v Atlanta United @ 2.60
Toronto FC v New York City FC
Live on Sky Sports Football
I expect the goals to flow in Canada as well in the MLS game of the weekend. These two will be expecting to challenge for the MLS Cup this season, and there are legitimate reasons for thinking that both could come very close.
Toronto were held at home by Colorado last week, but their three games prior to that had all featured over 3.5 goals, including their away game at NYCFC, and it's hard to see how there won't be more goals here.
Patrick Vieira's side have scored nine times in their last four, and have turned into a really consistent outfit in front of goal. David Villa obviously helps, but he has support now, and they look ready for a tilt at the title. And even though they look more solid defensively this season, they still look open to me, and will be vulnerable against Toronto's attacking superstars.
I'm not sure that City will get a confidence boost here ahead of the New York derby against the Red Bulls, but they're likely to score and show their defensive frailties, and that leads to a bet on over 3.50 goals at a reasonable price.
Back Over 3.5 Goals in Toronto FC v NYCFC @ 2.50
Sporting KC v Chicago Fire
I know that the declining fortunes of Sporting KC have been a feature of this column over the last few weeks, and I was intending to get back on their side now that three of their key players are back from a Gold Cup win. Except they're not.
Dom Dwyer's departure must be a massive blow for Peter Vermes and his team, and could be a key turning point in the season. Since Dwyer became the number one striker at the start of 2014, he has scored 34% of the team's goals, and there was little sign of his influence fading.
The man most likely to replace him, at least for the time being, is Gerso Fernandes, and he's out this weekend, which leaves an enormous burden on an inexperienced strike-force. Chicago, full of goals and flying, are in a great position to exploit that.
You could argue that the Fire blew a real chance to impose themselves against the ten men of New York last week, and that's fair comment, but it was their only defeat since April, and they welcome back Dax McCarty, who makes such a big difference to their midfield.
Chicago have Nemanja Nikolic and David Accam in great form, and while a lay of Sporting KC for this one would be a really good play at around 2.00, I think that the Fire are a massive price for the win at 4.30, and am happy to take that, and see them keep up the misery for SKC.
Back Chicago Fire to beat Sporting KC @ 4.30
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