MLS preview and tips: Charlotte on the slide, Miami too hot for Toronto
Philadelphia, Vancouver and LAFC scored 15 goals between them over the two legs, while Orlando lost out to away goals after a 0-0 draw in Mexico and a 1-1 draw in Orlando.
The biggest shock was Austin FC failing to overturn their shock 3-0 first-leg deficit against Violette, managing only a 2-0 win despite dominating in every statistical aspect. Post-CONCACAF games are difficult for teams to negotiate, particularly if they've travelled.
Oppose the Champions League sides?
By the time Vancouver arrive in Los Angeles, they'll have clocked up close to 20 hours of flight time across the past four days, with Thursday being allocated as a rest day and Saturday as a travel day.
The season has not started well for the Galaxy with one point through two games, but this is their home opener, and we've discussed the elevated importance of this in recent weeks.
They're one of the last teams to play their first home game and you have to say they've been given a nice opponent and in good circumstances. That is reflected in the odds slightly, but they're still backable. Vancouver's loss means they've now managed just three wins in their last 25 competitive away games, losing 13 of their last 20. That included a 5-2 reverse against the Galaxy just seven months ago.
Are Charlotte FC the whipping boys?
Charlotte were inconsistent during 2022 as they struggled to adapt to life in MLS, and 2023 hasn't started very well, either, losing to New England, St Louis, and Atlanta, and conceding seven goals along the way. They face one of our Champions League sides when they visit the Exploria Stadium, although Orlando benefit from being the only CCL team to have been at home for the past week. A 1-1 draw in DC sandwiched between draws against Tigres means Orlando are unbeaten in five to start the season. Turning those draws into wins will be the priority and given that they've had a relaxed enough schedule, the visit of Charlotte is a good opportunity to do just that. The MLS new boys have lost 13 of their last 18 games on the road and were beaten twice by Orlando last season. Orlando seem to have found a nice balance this season and Oscar Pareja has a habit of putting together a sturdy squad. A strong mentality is not usually an issue for his side, and we can expect them to make the most of this opportunity to bounce back.
Rough start for Toronto FC
A long, long time ago, my MLS service adopted a motto. Don't bet on Toronto FC. It even made it into print in Sports Illustrated, and while this team isn't that disaster, they are struggling nonetheless. The absence of Lorenzo Isigne and several key players has hurt them so far this season. There's also a little bit of imbalance about this team, which in their last 20 outings have allowed far too many goals and produced just two wins. Bernadeschi and Insigne have played a role in more than 75% of Toronto's goals during that period. Of the last 20 visitors to BMO Field, 11 have scored at least two goals and Inter Miami are a team you'd expect to be potent this season. After remaining patient with Phil Neville last season, Miami look like a squad that should challenge in the playoffs this year. Back-to-back 2-0 home wins over Montreal and Philadelphia were quite the statement and despite their dismal away form in 2022, this looks like a much more organised and resilient group. Inter Miami have won five straight games against Toronto FC and have emerged as their bogey side. When you pair that with the current form and the state of each squad, you can make an argument that Miami should be the favourites.
George Dempsey provides soccer tips as MLS Betting UK 2023 on Tipstrr
LA Galaxy to win Orlando City to win Inter Miami to win
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