MLS May preview
LAFC have tightened their grip on top spot in the Western Conference after rattling off consecutive wins against Kansas, Cincinnati and Minnesota. However, free-scoring Austin FC are hot on their heels, while LA Galaxy and FC Dallas look dangerous. Philadelphia hold a narrow lead over New York Red Bulls and Orlando City at the top of the Eastern Conference.
Meanwhile, the standings make grim reading for teams like Vancouver, D.C. United and goal-shy Chicago Fire. The teams will continue to jostle for position throughout a busy May, and we have identified some of the key games to look out for. We have also provided betting trends and tracked the progress of the MLS Cup futures betting odds.
New York Red Bulls vs. Portland Timbers
Saturday, May 7, at Red Bull Arena
The Red Bulls will bid to extend their unbeaten run to four games when they take on reigning Western Conference champions Portland at the Red Bull Arena on Saturday. They are sitting second in the Eastern Conference standings, but the Red Bulls remain winless at home this season. As we have laid out in our betting trends below, their success thus far stems from an unblemished record on the road.
They have a great opportunity to pick up a first home win of the season when they host Portland, who are coming off a 2-0 away defeat to 10-man Colorado. This will be the first meeting between the teams for a couple of years, so it will be interesting to see how it unfolds. DraftKings has -110 on Portland +1 Asian handicap, which might appeal when you consider how bad NYRB’s home form has been.
LAFC vs. Philadelphia Union
Saturday, May 7, at Banc of California Stadium
This promises to be the biggest game in May. It pits the Western Conference leader against the Eastern Conference leader, and we should witness a gripping clash. LAFC are unbeaten at the Banc of California season so far this season, with 12 goals scored and just three conceded in five home games.
It is easy to see why they are the favorites to win the game, but they cannot take Philadelphia lightly. Both of these teams have found the back of the net in all of their games so far this season, so a bet on both teams to score at -145 with BetMGM looks very tempting. Their last meeting resulted in a 3-3 draw back in March 2020, so we hope for a similarly open and entertaining game on Saturday.
Austin vs. LA Galaxy
Sunday, May 8, at Q2 Stadium
Austin have fired in 15 goals in just five home games so far this season. They are the top-scoring team in the league, but a slightly leaky defense has cost them on a few occasions, leaving them second in the Western Conference.
Josh Wolff’s men are four points clear of LA Galaxy, who suffered a surprise 1-0 defeat to Real Salt Lake last time out. LA Galaxy’s recent games have been drab, low-scoring affairs, but we should witness a more entertaining spectacle on Sunday. LA Galaxy won 2-1 when they last met, but Austin have improved since then, and they could turn the tables. DraftKings has +120 on a home win, which looks tempting, while Austin to win and both teams to score is priced at +300.
Toronto FC vs. Orlando City
Saturday, May 14, at BMO Field
Orlando City have made a strong start to the season, taking 17 points from their opening 10 games. They are now just one point behind Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia Union, and they will be desperate to maintain the momentum in May. Their away form has been terrific, with two wins and two draws from four games on the road.
Toronto have scored in all nine of their games so far, but they have also conceded in all of them, and that weak defense has left them outside the playoff places. They are unlikely to keep a clean sheet against a talented Orlando attacking unit, so this should be another high-scoring game at BMO Field.
New York City FC vs. Columbus Crew
Saturday, May 14, at Yankee Stadium
The reigning MLS Cup champions are up to fifth in the east after enjoying a strong run of results over the past couple of weeks. They shrugged off the disappointment of the CONCACAF Champions League defeat to Seattle by thrashing Real Salt Lake 6-0 at Yankee Stadium, and they then beat Toronto 5-4 and San Jose Earthquakes 3-0.
Taty Castellanos looks back to his best, and he will spearhead a dangerous NYCFC offense against Columbus Crew on May 14. Columbus are just below New York in the standings, having made a reasonably strong start to the season. Yet NYCFC thumped them 4-1 in their last meeting, and they should win again when they resume hostilities in May.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. FC Dallas
Wednesday, April 18, at BC Place
Vancouver are languishing at the bottom of the Western Conference standings after taking just four points from their opening eight games. They have already lost six times this season, leaving them with the worst record in the league. The Whitecaps have the lowest goals tally in the Western Conference, and they concede more than two goals per game, which is a recipe for disaster.
This provides FC Dallas with a golden opportunity to maintain their flying start to the new season. They have four wins, four draws and just one defeat from nine games so far, and they look like a playoff team. Yet their best performances have come in Texas, and they have struggled on the road, so this match will give them a chance to change that trend.
Real Salt Lake vs. Houston Dynamo
Saturday, May 28, at Rio Tinto Stadium
Real Salt Lake remain unbeaten at Rio Tinto Stadium so far this season, with three wins and a draw from four matches. That is largely down to a tight defense, which has performed well at home. It was embarrassed during the 6-0 defeat to NYCFC, but that is an aberration in an otherwise strong season for RSL.
They are fifth in the standings, four points clear of Houston Dynamo, and these teams could end up battling for a playoff place towards the end of the regular season, so this is an important match. Houston will be dangerous, but a bet on a home win for RSL looks tempting.
- Austin FC, LAFC and Dallas FC have the joint best home record in the league so far this season. They have each secured four wins and a draw from five home games.
- Austin FC also has the best goal difference at home, having scored 15 and conceded just two goals. However, the top scoring home team is NYCFC, with 18 goals scored, but seven conceded.
- New York Red Bulls still have a 100% record on the road, with five wins from five away games this season.
- It is remarkable to note that the Red Bulls also have the worst away record in the MLS, with zero wins, two draws and two defeats from four games at the Red Bull Arena.
- Games featuring the San Jose Earthquakes have seen an average of 4.22 goals so far this season, and 67% of their matches have gone over 3.5 goals.
- Games featuring Chicago Fire have averaged a mere 1.44 goals, and two-thirds of their matches have seen under 2.5 goals. They have the meanest defense in the league, with five clean sheets in nine games.
- Both teams to score has paid off in all nine of Toronto’s matches so far this season. They are one of just three teams – along with LAFC and Philadelphia Union – to score in all nine of their matches.
- New England Revolution have scored in both halves in six of their nine games so far this season, a league high.
- Philadelphia Union have the best half-time record in the league, as they were winning five times, drawing three times and losing just once at the break. Vancouver are bottom of the first-half standings, with zero wins, three draws and five defeats.
- LAFC have won the second half in all nine of their matches so far this season. Seattle Sounders have the worst second half record, with zero wins, three draws and four defeats in the second 45 minutes of games.
Futures Betting Update
LAFC are now the +400 favorites to win the MLS Cup with BetMGM. They were priced at +550 a month ago, but the odds have dropped after wins against Sporting Kansas City, Cincinnati and Minnesota. PlaySugarHouse and Unibet have NYCFC and Philadelphia Union next in the betting, level at +1100.
Austin FC are now +1400 for the MLS Cup, and so are LA Galaxy. The New England Revolution have drifted out even further in the futures betting, and you can now find odds of +1600 on them lifting the Cup. Seattle Sounders, one of the preseason favorites, are also priced at +1600.