NYCFC v Toronto FC
Thursday, 00:30
Live on Sky Sports Football

Two of the teams vying for supremacy at the top of the Eastern Conference go head to head in the Bronx as MLS returns with a bang. This game will be billed as the battle of the last two League MVPs in the shape of Sebastian Giovinco and David Villa, yet there's a lot more depth to it than that.

These are two exceptional teams, two really good squads, and it would be no great surprise if this ended up being the Eastern Conference Final in November, and with NYCFC unbeaten in their regular season encounters against Toronto, Patrick Viera's team are trading at 1.96 for the win.

The last time that they met, though, was in the post-season last year, and TFC simply owned NYCFC. The tie ended in a 7-0 aggregate win, and those two matches will hang heavily over this fixture.

Vieira will be out for revenge, and their recent home form suggests that they'll get it. They've won four of their last five at Yankee Stadium, have scored in each of their last 19 home games, and are a real attacking threat, but I don't trust them enough to suggesting backing them at odds on for the home win. The memory of that Play Off game is still too much for me.

I am interested in the goals market, though, as so much attacking quality means that there's every chance of at least four goals in this one, and with both of these teams' last two games going Over 3.5, there's a solid chance that this one will do likewise.

Recommended Bet
Over 3.5 goals in NYCFC v Toronto FC @ 2.40

LA Galaxy v Vancouver Whitecaps
Thursday, 03:30

I've been interested to see the fresh optimism that appears to be surrounding the LA Galaxy after the Gold Cup break, but am struggling to see any solid reasons for it.

The Galaxy have lost their last three MLS games, including that 6-2 home humiliation at the hands of San Jose, but the fact that they acquitted themselves relatively well against Manchester United in a 5-2 defeat, coupled with the return from injury of Jermaine Jones and Daniel Steres, appears to have many thinking that they've turned a corner.

I don't see any justification for that: Gyasi Zardes is away on international duty, longer term injuries have affected them badly, and Curt Onalfo is yet to prove that he can be a truly effective MLS Coach. His team has conceded 18 goals in their nine home games this season, an MLS high, and a pathetic record.

They face a Vancouver Whitecaps team who have an historically poor record against the Galaxy, but who are playing well at the moment. Their acquisition of the Peruvian Yordy Reyna looks shrewd, and his winner against NYCFC a couple of weeks ago might just have given them real momentum.

The last time I supported Vancouver to do well away from home they let me down badly, falling 4-0 against Chicago Fire, but the reasons I did that were solid, and remain so. They have caused problems for some big names away, they're normally rock solid and hard to beat, and I feel that they're a little unfortunate this season not to be higher in the table.

There's a relatively cheap lay of the Galaxy on offer at odds on, but I can't resist backing the Whitecaps to add to Onalfo's misery, and inflict further pain on LA at a massive price.

Recommended Bet
Back Vancouver Whitecaps to beat LA Galaxy @ 4.30 

Montreal Impact v Philadelphia Union
Thursday, 00:30

Both of these teams are desperate for points at the bottom of the East, and I favour Montreal to cope better with key absentees than a Philadelphia Union team who face the second of three difficult-looking away trips.

The Impact will have to do without the pivotal Ignacio Piatti, who is troubled by a groin injury, but such has been the impact of the outstanding Blerim Dzemaili since his arrival from Serie A, that Piatti won't be quite as missed as he might otherwise have been.

The Union must make do without both Andre Blake and Chris Pontius, and while John McCarthy has been in good form in goal, they're still badly weakened by their absentees, and this looks a difficult trip for a team that has won only one of its last twelve regular season road matches in MLS.

The Impact are flaky in the extreme on their travels, but actually a decent proposition at home, winning eight of their last twelve at Stade Saputo, and while they can be a little open and vulnerable defensively, I'm not sure that the Union are capable of challenging them enough in forward areas.

I know that the two sides drew 3-3 at the Talen Energy Stadium earlier in the season, but Jim Curtin's Philadelphia are a different proposition away from home, and I take Montreal to grab a narrow win that will move them above the Union in the table.

Recommended Bet
Back Montreal Impact to beat Philadelphia Union @ 2.02

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