MLS March Preview
Soccer fans witnessed a wealth of exciting games when a new MLS season got underway last weekend. Expansion franchise Charlotte FC were given a baptism of fire when they lost 3-0 to D.C. United in an absorbing clash at Audi Field. Other highlights included a Carlos Vela hat-trick for LAFC, a last-gasp winner from LA Galaxy’s Chicharito and thumping wins for Austin FC and Columbus Crew.
The action comes in thick and fast in March. There are big games taking place each weekend, so we have rounded up the most exciting clashes to look out for. We have also provided a futures betting update after an entertaining opening weekend.
New England Revolution vs. FC Dallas
Saturday, March 5, at Gillette Stadium
New England won the Supporters’ Shield after racking up a record tally of 73 points last season. However, they suffered a shock defeat to NYCFC in the Conference Semifinals, and key player Tajon Buchanan has moved to Europe. However, the club bolstered their squad by signing USMNT midfielder Sebastian Lletget and veteran forward Jozy Altidore in the offseason, so expectations are high.
The Revs began their season with a 2-2 draw against reigning Western Conference champions Portland Timbers last weekend. Goals from Brandon Bye and Sebastian Lletget handed New England the lead twice, but Portland struck back on both occasions.
Now the Revolution will face an FC Dallas team that began the campaign with a 1-1 draw against Toronto. DraftKings is offering +100 on New England Revolution -1 Asian handicap for this game – meaning you get your money back if they win by a single goal and you double your money if they win by two or more – and that looks tempting.
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Columbus Crew
Saturday, March 5, at PayPal Park
Columbus Crew opened their account with an emphatic 4-0 win against Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday. Goals from Miguel Berry and Derrick Etienne put them 2-0 up at the break, and Vancouver then had Jake Nerwinski sent off on 53 minutes. Columbus continued to apply pressure, and late goals from Luis Díaz and Lucas Zelarayán completed the rout.
San Jose came up short against a counterattacking New York Red Bulls team at PayPal Park in Week 1. Javier Eduardo López was on target for the Earthquakes, but goals from Patryk Klimala, Omir Guadalupe Fernandez Mosso and Tom Barlow handed the Red Bulls a 3-1 victory.
That could lay the blueprint for Columbus to win this game. They have pace down the flanks and they can be effective as a counterpunching team, so the -110 available at DraftKings Sportsbook on Columbus Crew draw no bet looks very appealing.
Charlotte vs. LA Galaxy
Saturday, March 6, at Bank of America Stadium
Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez was at his lethal best for LA Galaxy in Week 1. Their game against reigning MLS Cup champions New York City FC was poised to end goalless, but the Little Pea sliced through the opposition defense and fired in a 90th minute winner into the top corner, sparking jubilation in the stands.
They will now bid to maintain their 100% winning start to the season against Charlotte. The MLS newcomers played reasonably well in their opener, but D.C. United were clinical in front of goal and they ended up losing 3-0. Their performance was more encouraging than the result, but they may struggle once more in this game.
LAFC vs. Portland
Monday, March 7, at Banc of California Stadium
Two of the strongest teams in the west will lock horns in Los Angeles in Week 2. Vela’s hat-trick handed LAFC a comfortable win against Colorado Rapids on the opening weekend. Steve Cherundolo’s men were in control for the entire game, limiting Colorado to just one shot on goal, and that bodes well for the weeks ahead.
Vela now has 60 goals in 87 MLS games for LAFC, which is a very impressive strike rate for the former league MVP. He has five goals in six games against Portland during his career, and a bet on him to score any time in this match looks appealing.
LAFC are the -140 favorites and deservedly so. They were superb in their opener, whereas Portland looked unconvincing in that 2-2 draw with New England. Yet there will be a lot of talented players on the pitch for this game, and both teams to score looks like another interesting option for soccer bettors.
New York City FC vs. Philadelphia Union
Saturday, March 19, at Yankee Stadium
New York City FC looked exhausted by the end of their clash with LA Galaxy last weekend. That is understandable, as they had played a midweek game – beating Santos de Guápiles 4-0 in the second leg of their CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16 showdown on Wednesday – whereas their opponents had the week off.
The schedule does not get any easier for NYCFC in the weeks ahead. They have to play a two-legged quarter-final against Comunicaciones along with games against Vancouver and Montréal before facing Philadelphia Union on March 19.
The Union should be a lot fresher by the time this match rolls around. They suffered a tough defeat to NYCFC in last year’s Conference Finals, after their team was seriously depleted by a Covid-19 outbreak, and they will be keen for revenge. Philadelphia battled to an underwhelming 1-1 draw with Minnesota in Week 1. They looked a little rusty, but they should be in better shape by March 19, and a win for the Union could be an interesting bet.
Austin FC vs. Seattle Sounders
Sunday, March 20, at Q2 Stadium
Austin FC made a flying start to the new season when they thrashed FC Cincinnati 5-0 last weekend. It was a thoroughly lopsided game from the start. It took just two minutes for Cecilio Domínguez to open the scoring, and Alexander Ring quickly doubled Austin’s advantage. Sebastián Driussi killed the game off by adding a third on the stroke of half-time, and Domínguez made it 4-0 after the break. There was still time for a late Alex Kann own-goal to wrap up a five-star performance from Austin.
The odds on Austin winning the MLS Cup dropped slightly after that result, but they are still +8000 underdogs with some sportsbooks. Seattle Sounders are the favorites with some books and second favorites after New England with other betting sites, so this will be a stern test of Austin’s mettle.
Seattle have been the most consistent team in the league over the past five years. They struggled amid injury problems in last year’s playoffs, and they lost 1-0 to Nashville in Week 1, but they still have a very strong squad. New signing Léo Chú still needs time to adapt alongside stars such as Cristian Roldán, Jordan Morris, Nicolás Lodeiro and João Paulo, while they need to get Raúl Ruidíaz back from injury, but they still have the most formidable team in the league, and it will be interesting to see if they can beat Austin.
Real Salt Lake vs. Nashville SC
Sunday, March 20, at Rio Tinto Stadium
Real Salt Lake continually defied expectations through last year’s playoffs, going all the way to the Conference Finals before finally losing 2-0 to Portland. They began the new campaign with a 0-0 draw against Houston Dynamo, despite only having 38% of the possession, showing that they remain very strong in defense.
Nashville did well to beat Seattle Sounders in Week 1, courtesy of a late goal from Aníbal Godoy. They look like genuine MLS Cup contenders this year, led by new signing Aké Loba, USMNT defender Walker Zimmerman, Godoy and attackers Hany Mukhtar and Randall Leal, and it will be fascinating to see if they can break down this stubborn RSL defense.
Futures Betting Update
The sportsbooks have New England Revolution, Seattle Sounders and LAFC at the top of the futures betting after Week 1. BetMGM is offering +700 on all three teams to win the MLS Cup.
DraftKings Sportsbook stands out with a market leading price of +750 on Seattle Sounders, while Unibet, BetRivers and PlaySugarHouse have a best price of +800 on LAFC. NYCFC are best priced at +1100, but some sportsbooks have them at just +800.
LA Galaxy and Philadelphia Union are next in the futures betting at +1400, followed by Sporting KC and Nashville (+1600), while Portland Timbers are a +2000 long shot.
NYCFC is the +225 favorite with DraftKings to win the Eastern Conference, ahead of New England Revolution (+275) and Philadelphia Union (+600). It makes LAFC the +200 favorite for the Western Conference, with Seattle Sounders priced at +300, Nashville SC at +500 and LA Galaxy at +550. Vela is now the +350 favorite to finish the season as the top scorer, ahead of Josef Martinez and Chicharito, who are both priced at +750.
These futures betting odds will shift over the course of the season, depending upon how well each team is playing. We will keep you updated with developments on that front, along with betting trends, previews, line movements and analysis.