Welcome to my MLS Soccer picks, and with the season already well underway, there’s plenty of betting opportunities available for us all to make more money off the bookies.
This weekend’s action starts with Atlanta United taking on Toronto FC at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium – kickoff at 1600hrs
Atlanta United further strengthened their stranglehold at the top of the Eastern Conference last weekend when they recorded a valuable 2-1 win away at Montreal Impact which maintained a healthy four point margin at the top of the division ahead of this weekend’s action.
A two-goal salvo from their leading goalscorer, Josef Martinez (24 goals) ensured all three points for the visitors, and although Montreal got one back late on in the game, Atlanta registered a third win in four matches in the MLS.
Previous wins over Philadelphia Union 2-0 away and a convincing 3-1 home win over DC United have also helped Atlanta’s bid to finish top of the Conference, and the hosts are now seemingly on a promising sequence of strong form.
Atlanta now return to their Mercedes-Benz Stadium for this Saturday afternoon’s all-Eastern Conference clash against lowly Toronto FC, with the hosts no doubt keen to extend their unbeaten run to five matches overall, while home form has also shown signs of building momentum.
The home side possess a reasonably strong looking home record of 7-3-2 31/14 which includes being undefeated in their last five on home turf with recent wins gained over Philadelphia Union, Orlando City and DC United.
It’s no coincidence that Atlanta United’s strong campaign in the Eastern Conference has aligned with striker, Josef Martinez’s red-hot goalscoring form, as he seeks a 16th goal in 11 matches here today, which is a staggering statistic.
Home Form & Team News
Form at home has certainly improved for Atlanta United under the guidance of manager, Gerardo Martino, as his side have put together a five-match unbeaten sequence to maintain their lead at the top of the Eastern Conference.
Atlanta seem to have recovered from their mini ‘blip’ in form following back-to-back defeats on home soil to Sporting Kansas and New York Red Bulls back in May, and another three points here today could see the Conference leaders extend their lead to a seven point cushion.
The hosts will be without Greg Garza, Darlington Nagbe and Mikey Ambrose, while Ezequiel Barco (4 goals) has missed the last two matches due to “ill discipline off the field”.
Manager, Gerardo Martino, prefers a 4-2-3-1 formation with striker Martinez spearheading their attack, and he’s unlikely to make any major changes to personnel here with the likes of Miguel Almiron (8 goals, 9 assists) also in great form, supporting just behind Martinez up front.
Just returning to the topic of Martinez once more, and the striker is on course to beat the MLS goalscoring record for a season as he requires just 4 more goals to become the greatest goalscorer in MLS history.
Toronto FC face the daunting prospect of attempting to try and contain an in-form Atlanta United in their own backyard at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium this Saturday afternoon, although the visitors come into this all-Eastern Conference on the back of four straight wins on the trot.
A two-legged affair against Ottawa Fury in the Canadian Championship ended up a one-sided contest with Toronto FC winning 4-0 on aggregate, while back-to-back wins (home and away) against Chicago Fire in the MLS should ensure an increase in confidence amongst the Toronto camp for this trip.
That said, prior to the two wins over Chicago, Toronto had endured a six-match sequence without a win and they’ve managed just two away wins all season to date as the Canadian outfit have really struggled got come to terms with travelling away from their BMO Field in Ontario.
Incidentally, 4 of Toronto FC’s total of 6 wins overall this season have been achieved on home turf, and they currently sit second from bottom in the Eastern Conference ahead of their trip to Atlanta today.
Away Form & Team News
As mentioned earlier, Toronto have managed just two wins on the road throughout this season to date amidst what has been a disappointing campaign for the Canadian outfit, and their away record of 2-2-7 17/25 underlines the problems they’ve had on their travels this term.
Indeed, Toronto’s woes away from home aren’t limited to only this season either as they’ve recorded just three wins on the road from their last 15 outings, and although they’ll be keen to get something at Atlanta today this seems a very unlikely outcome.
In addition, the visitors have achieved just one clean sheet on their travels all season which was obtained in a 2-0 win away at Philadelphia Union back in June, and a visit to face prolific striker, Martinez, this afternoon is probably not top of their list of priorities right now!
Toronto will be without defender Drew Moor and Brazilian forward Auro who are both sidelined with injuries, so once again they’ll be relying heavily on the services of midfielder Jonathan Osorio (8 goals) and forward, Sebastian Giovinco (6 goals, 5 assists) for inspiration here.
The last two meetings between these two sides have produced 2-2 draws in each encounter, so it’s fair to assume that we could expect to see more goals featuring in this clash, especially with the likes of Atlanta United striker, Josef Martinez in devastating form in front of goal.
However, as tempting as it is to just back plenty of goals, the home win for Atlanta United looks the safer option here as they look to steal a march on the rest of their Eastern Conference rivals, especially the two New York franchise clubs – New York City and New York Red Bulls, who both have home games this weekend.