MLS Golden Boot winner Hany Mukhtar can lead his team to an upset when they take on LA Galaxy in the first round of the playoffs.
Checking out the top sportsbook sites (see our online sportsbook reviews here) LA Galaxy look like the obvious favorites with bettors ahead of their Eastern Conference First-Round playoff game against Nashville. Galaxy are available at around -110 to win, with the visitors priced at +290 and the draw rated at +270.
LA Galaxy overcame a challenging stretch in the summer and concluded the regular season with three straight victories. They have a few standout players, such as Chicharito and talented Spanish midfielder Riqui Puig, but their main problem has been how many unintentional mistakes they make.
That could prove costly against tough opponents Nashville, featuring Hany Mukhtar who won the Golden Boot for the regular season. He is backed by a seasoned Nashville squad that finished the regular season with a memorable victory over LAFC. They look underrated in the market for this return visit to Los Angeles and can beat the home team.
Because of the way they play, the New York Red Bulls are one of the most recognizable MLS clubs. Despite making the playoffs every year but one since 2003, they also have the unpleasant distinction of routinely losing in the postseason. Their intensity and high press make them formidable opponents, but can they withstand the grind of the playoffs?
Although Cincinnati’s defense is usually poor, they do have a formidable front three in Luciano Acosta, Brandon Vazquez, and Brenner. In the regular season, only Philadelphia scored more and I think given the odds, it is worth betting on Cincinnati in this game.
Austin finished the regular season in second place in the West, scoring only one goal less than LAFC, the Supporters Shield winners. Sebastian Driussi was their star player, but there are other accomplished MLS players on the roster, including Maxi Urruti, Ethan Finlay, Alexander Ring, and Diego Fagundez.
After what occurred last year, when Real Salt Lake advanced as far as the Western Conference Final, the Austin players won’t undervalue their opponents here. Nevertheless, expecting RSL to match that effort is unwise. Austin are undoubtedly the superior team and should win this one comfortably.
Montreal looks like a solid bet to advance to the Conference Semi-Finals after surprising the skeptics by placing second in the East in the regular season. Although the Montreal squad doesn’t have many stars, they do have a strong, seasoned core, and that can make a difference in the playoffs.
Given their victory in the US Open Cup, Orlando shouldn’t be underestimated in this knockout game, but it is worth noting that they have lost four of their last six games since the Cup final, and in the regular season, they finished 17 points behind Montreal.
Throughout the regular season, FC Dallas primarily relied on Jesus Ferreira and Paul Arriola for their goals, but fortunately, they have the best defensive record in the West with only 37 goals allowed in 34 games. That solid defense will certainly be enough to push them past their First Round opponents and provide their best chance of advancing to the playoffs’ later rounds.
Minnesota boasts a capable number 10 in Emanuel Reynoso and a reliable goalie in Dayne St. Clair, but they’ve lost form at the worst time. Their losing run includes a 3-0 defeat against Dallas, who finished the season well. This may be a close game, but Dallas should come through it.
The defending MLS Cup champions NYCFC were in a strong position going into August, but once Valentin Castellano was loaned to Girona, their form slipped. Fortunately, they ended up third in the East thanks to a run of three victories near the end of the regular season.
The defense has been an issue for their opponents, who have relied heavily on Gonzalo Higuain, but their run of four wins at the end of the season, in which they conceded just seven goals, suggests they are improving in this area. The fact that NYCFC will have to play this game at Red Bull Arena because of the ongoing MLB Playoffs makes this game tougher to weigh up, but given that both teams have obvious flaws, betting on the regular-time tie seems to be the best way to go.