Full MLS October Preview
We are now approaching the final weeks of the MLS season and the battle to reach the playoffs is heating up. The likes of D.C. United, Montréal and Real Salt Lake are desperately clinging onto their places above the playoff line, but ambitious rivals are piling on the pressure.
Soccer fans can look forward to a wealth of exciting clashes during October as the regular season draws to a close. We have broken down the biggest games to look out for, provided a futures betting update and pulled out some key stats that bettors should bear in mind.
Austin vs. Real Salt Lake
Saturday, October 2, at Q2 Stadium
Real Salt Lake are clinging onto seventh place in the Western Conference standings, but the likes of LAFC, Vancouver and San Jose are breathing down their necks. This upcoming clash with Austin represents a golden opportunity for Freddy Juarez’s team to pick up a vital win.
Austin sits rock bottom of the table, with just six wins all season. The extension franchise has lost five of its last six games, and it is low on confidence right now. RSL beat Austin 1-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium back in August, and a similar result in Texas would significantly boost the team’s chances of finishing above the playoff line.
The team’s defense has looked shaky in recent weeks, as we saw in the 6-1 defeat to Portland, but Austin lacks the firepower to exploit those frailties. Damir Kreilach has been superb in an advanced role, and he has the quality to put Austin to the sword.
Montréal vs. Atlanta United
Saturday, October 2, at Saputo Stadium
The Eastern Conference table is looking extremely congested as we approach the business end of the 2021 MLS season. Montréal is currently in seventh place, just a point above Atlanta United, and both teams stand a great chance of reaching the playoffs, but they need to find greater consistency in the weeks ahead.
We were treated to an exhilarating contest when Montréal last played against the Five Stripes in August. It was 0-0 at half-time, but goals from Mason Toye and Rudy Camacho handed Wilfried Nancy’s men a 2-0 lead after the break.
Star striker Josef Martinez pulled one back for Atlanta, and Camacho was then sent off for bringing the Venezuelan forward down in the box. Marcelino Moreno slotted in the penalty to restore parity. Montréal holding midfielder Victor Wanyama and Martinez were both sent off for fighting in the dying stages of the game, so that should add fire to this upcoming clash.
LA Galaxy vs. LAFC
Sunday, October 3, at Dignity Health Tennis Center
Battles between these LA rivals are always exciting events for MLS fans. The 45-yard volley from Zlatan Ibrahimovic to earn LA Galaxy a 4-3 victory on his debut in 2018 will live long in the memory, as will his hat-trick in the 3-2 win the following year.
The teams have met 11 times since LAFC was formed, and we have seen an average of 4.36 goals per game. Their last clash was a 3-3 draw back in August, so we should expect fireworks when they renew hostilities for another Los Angeles Derby in October.
Seattle Sounders vs. Colorado
Sunday, October 3, at Lumen Field
Seattle Sounders remain top of the Western Conference, with the best defensive record in the league this year. However, third placed Colorado Rapids are gaining traction after embarking on a long unbeaten streak, and they could usurp Seattle if they win this game at Lumen Field.
The Sounders battled to a 1-1 draw with Colorado when the teams clashed at DSG Park in July, but they will be keen to show who is boss on Sunday. They recently beat Sporting KC in a heavyweight battle, and Seattle will cement its status as the favorite to reach the MLS Cup final if it can beat Colorado in this game.
New York Red Bulls vs. Inter Miami
Saturday, October 9, at Red Bull Arena
This could prove to be an entertaining game between two teams that still have an outside chance of reaching the playoffs. Inter Miami was on a six-game unbeaten streak when it hosted the Red Bulls in the Sunshine State in mid-September, but it suffered a damaging 4-0 defeat after Jorge Vidal was sent off in the first half.
That sent Phil Neville’s men into a downward spiral, as they lost 5-1 to Nashville in their following game, so they will be keen to make amends when they head to the Big Apple. However, the Red Bulls are now just two points behind Inter Miami in the standings after embarking on a strong run of results, so they will be confident in their chances of securing another win.
Montréal vs. Philadelphia Union
Saturday, October 16, at Saputo Stadium
Back-to-back wins against Orlando City and Atlanta United handed the Union a timely boost following their CONCACAF Champions League defeat to Club América. It saw them climb up to fourth in the standings, but they were just one point clear of Montréal in seventh, so Philadelphia cannot afford to take a foot off the pedal now.
Kacoer Orzybylko is back among the goals, which is a relief for Union fans, and the defense looks solid. Philadelphia could still finish anywhere from second to ninth, and it will need to deliver a composed performance against an improving Montréal team at Saputo Stadium.
New England vs. Chicago
Saturday, October 16, at Gillette Stadium
New England remains on course to break the MLS points record this season. It is certain to seize the Supporters’ Shield, but breaking LAFC’s 72-point record would be a phenomenal feat.
It is currently on course to earn 75 points if it maintains its current pace, but there are some tough games ahead. A home clash with Chicago in Foxborough is the sort of game that New England really should be winning, as the Fire have been poor this season.
However, New England needed to dig deep to earn a 3-2 victory when the teams locked horns at Soldier Field in September. Gastón Giménez thought he had earned his team a point, but an injury-time strike from substitute Carles Gil handed the Revolution the win. We hope to see another open and entertaining game when they meet in October.
D.C. United vs. Nashville
Saturday, October 16, at Audi Field
DCU are another team barely clinging onto a playoff place in the extremely congested Easter Conference table. Their defensive record is poor, but they have the second-best offense in the east, making them an entertaining team to watch under Hernan Losada.
Nashville looks like a lock to clinch the runner-up spot in the Eastern Conference after enjoying a very strong season. They have drawn more games than any other team in the league, but they also have the fewest losses, so they should be able to get a result when they travel to Audi Field.
Portland vs. Vancouver
Wednesday, October 20, at Providence Park
Two of the fiercest rivals in Major League Soccer will meet at Providence Park for an eagerly anticipated game towards the end of October. Portland has won four of their last five games between these clubs, and it has a much better record than Vancouver this season.
However, the Whitecaps are still in the hunt for a playoff place, and they will relish the opportunity to dent their rivals’ momentum in this game, so it should be a gripping contest.
Minnesota vs. Sporting KC
Sunday, October 31, at Allianz Field
The Sporting players will be annoyed by the nature of their 2-1 defeat to Seattle Sounders last weekend. They dominated possession, but they were profligate in front of goal, and that cost them the chance to overhaul Seattle at the top of the Western Conference table.
However, there is still plenty of time for them to seize top spot in the west. This game against Minnesota towards the end of the month could prove pivotal. It thumped Minnesota 4-0 a couple of weeks ago, earning a modicum of revenge for last year’s conference semi-finals defeat, and it will be keen to secure another win.
Futures Betting Update
Most sportsbooks now make New England Revolution the favorite to win the MLS Cup this year. However, FOX Bet is offering a market leading +600 on the Seattle Sounders to win the MLS Cup and +650 on New England. You can find +1000 on Sporting KC at FanDuel and Caesars, while Nashville is out at +1400 with FOX Bet.
DraftKings makes New England the +160 favorite to win the Eastern Conference, with New York City priced at +500 and Philadelphia Union at +650. The Sounders are +160 to win the Western Conference. DraftKings also has +200 on Ola Kamara to finish the season as the top scorer.
Key MLS Stats
2.2 – New England has earned 2.2 points per game so far this season, putting them on course to break the league record.
16 – D.C. United forward Ola Kamara has scored 16 goals this season, leaving him two clear ahead of Seattle’s Raúl Ruidíaz in the race to finish the season as top scorer.
16 – Carles Gil of New England leads the way with 15 assists this season.
52 – Portland defender Claudio Bravo has won more tackles than any other MLS player this year.
66 – New York City forward Valentín Castellanos has committed the most fouls in the league this season.
10 – Chicago and Dallas have each lost 10 games on the road this season, making them the teams with the worst away records.
12 – Nashville is the draw king of the season, with 12 draws from 26 games.