MLS April Preview
The odds on LAFC and Philadelphia Union winning the MLS Cup have plummeted after both teams extended their unbeaten starts to the season. LAFC are top of the Western Conference table with four wins and a draw from their opening five games. An identical record has carried Philly to the top of the Eastern Conference standings, and they are now the only unbeaten teams left in the league.
Their upcoming clash on May 7 will be fascinating, but both teams face more immediate challenges during an action-packed April. We have rounded up the biggest games to mark in your diary, examined the hottest betting trends and provided a futures wagering update.
Inter Miami vs. New England Revolution
Saturday, April 9, at DRV PNK Stadium
New England won the Supporters Shield after amassing a record-breaking points tally last year, but they have made a sluggish start to the current campaign. A 1-0 defeat to the New York Red Bulls at the weekend left them marooned in 12th place out of 14 teams in the Eastern Conference, with just one win from five games thus far. They have been poor defensively, while they have struggled to find their rhythm in attack.
However, the situation is even bleaker for Inter Miami. Phil Neville’s men are rock bottom of the table, with zero wins, one draw and four defeats from their opening five games. They have the worst attacking record in the league, and they have already conceded 13 times. Miami have only scored three goals, and two of them were penalties from Gonzalo Higuain.
Neville’s job is now on the line. He was given a chance to redeem himself this year after a torrid season in 2021, but his team continues to underwhelm. Another defeat could be the final nail in the coffin, so the former Manchester United and Everton star will need to rally his troops for Saturday’s match. It could prove to be an open, entertaining game.
LA Galaxy vs. LAFC
Sunday, April 10, at Dignity Health Sports Park
This is always one of the most eagerly anticipated MLS fixtures of the season. There have been 13 previous El Tráfico clashes, with five wins for the Galaxy, five draws and three wins for LAFC. La Galaxy are unbeaten in their last three meetings – a 2-1 win, a 3-3 draw and a 1-1 draw last year – but LAFC are currently in the ascendancy.
They produced a superb performance to beat Orlando City 4-2 last time out. That result left them two points clear of Real Salt Lake at the top of the Western Conference. LA Galaxy are third, with three wins and two losses from five games so far, but Javier “Chicharito” Hernández fired them to a 3-1 win against Portland last weekend, so they are in form as the derby approaches.
Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union
Saturday, April 16, at BMO Field
Toronto and Philadelphia have both found the back of the net in all of their games so far this season, so this should be an entertaining clash. The Union have won their last three games to nil, but Toronto are dangerous in attack. They are coming off back-to-back 2-1 wins over D.C. United and NYCFC, so Philly cannot take them lightly.
It finished 3-0 to the Union when they met in Philadelphia last season, but Toronto held Jim Curtin’s men to a 2-2 draw in their last clash. Both teams to score and over 2.5 goals looks like an interesting bet when they renew hostilities on April 16.
Atlanta United vs. FC Cincinnati
Saturday, April 16, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium
The Five Stripes are back in business after winning three of their opening five games of the season. The defense has been poor, but Josef Martínez has led the line with aplomb, and Marcelino Moreno has also impressed.
Atlanta remain unbeaten at home so far this season, while Cincinnati have been weak on the road. They have lost two of their three away game, conceding eight goals in the process, so they could struggle at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Atlanta to win and over 1.5 goals could be an interesting angle.
Portland Timbers vs. Real Salt Lake
Saturday, April 23, at Providence Park
Fans can look forward to a repeat of last year’s Western Conference Finals on April 23. It finished 2-0 to Portland when they battled it out for the conference championship last year. Felipe Mora fired in an early opener, and Santiago Moreno put the game out of RSL’s reach in the second half.
However, RSL have remained on an upward curve after defying expectations throughout last season’s playoffs. They are currently second in the Western Conference, five points clear of Portland, after making a strong start to the new season.
Yet this could prove to be a perfect opportunity for Portland to reassert their superiority. They have breezed to victory in their last four games against RSL, and they will be roared on by a passionate home crowd, so betting on a Portland win looks tempting in this game.
Houston Dynamo vs. Austin FC
Saturday, April 30, at PNC Stadium
Austin have been the surprise package so far this season. They finished near the bottom of the Western Conference last year, but they are currently fourth, with two wins, two draws and just one defeat so far in 2022. They have the joint best offensive record in the league, having fired in 13 goals, led by Argentinian forward Sebastián Driussi.
However, Austin are still without a road win since June 2021. Houston are a tough, organized team, and they are unbeaten at home so far this year. They could make life difficult for Austin on April 30, so it will be intriguing to see which of these Texan rivals prevails.
Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls
Saturday, April 30, at Soldier Field
April will be an extremely busy month for the New York Red Bulls. They face fellow MLS heavyweights Seattle Sounders in a two-legged CONCACAF Champions League semi-final showdown, and they also take on Montréal, FC Dallas and Orlando City. They earned a tense 1-0 win against New England last time out, so they should be full of confidence, but they will need to remain focused and consistent during this hectic month.
This is arguably their toughest MLS game in April. The Chicago Fire have made a terrific start to the season, with just one goal conceded in five games thus far. They have the best defensive record in the league, and they currently sit fourth in the east, just one point behind the Red Bulls and Atlanta and four behind Philadelphia Union. Teenage goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina has a 91.7% save percentage so far this season, which is the best mark in the league.
The Fire have also won their last two games against the Red Bulls. Both of those victories came in August last year – a 2-1 win at Soldier Field, followed by a 1-0 win in the Big Apple – which could give them a psychological advantage.
- New York Red Bulls have the strongest away record in the league so far after winning all three games on the road.
- Six teams have made an equally strong start to the season at home, but Austin stand out, with a +9 goal difference at home after just three games.
- Games featuring CF Montréal have seen an average of 4.60 goals so far, which is the highest in the league. FC Cincinnati games are next, with an average of 3.67 goals.
- Both teams to score has paid off in all five of Toronto’s games so far this season.
- Chicago Fire have kept four clean sheets in five games, giving them the best defensive record in the league.
- Five teams – LAFC, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Portland and Toronto – have scored in all of their games so far.
- LAFC have scored in both halves in four of their five games.
- Seattle Sounders have the best first-half record in the league, with three wins and two draws after 45 minutes. San Jose have the worst, as they would have zero wins, one draw and four defeats if games were to end at the break.
- LAFC are the strongest second-half team, having outscored their opponents in the second 45 minutes of each game so far. New England, Miami and Montréal have been the worst after the break.
Futures Betting Update
LAFC are now the +550 favorites to win the MLS Cup with BetMGM. Seattle Sounders are priced at +750, while some books now have Philadelphia Union third in the betting at +900. New England Revolution have drifted out to +1100 with some sportsbooks including PlaySugarHouse and BetRivers.
The Revs are still the +275 favorites to win the Eastern Conference with BetMGM, ahead of the Union at +375 and NYCFC at +400. LAFC lead the betting in the west. Carlos Vela is the +400 favorite to finish the season as the top scorer, ahead of Chicharito at +800. Josef Martínez is +900 to claim the Golden Boot.