MLS preview and tips: New York City too strong for Miami, plus goals at Philadelphia
Week two of MLS is in the books, and it was another week dominated by the home sides. Last week, we looked at the prevalence of home wins in Major League Soccer and especially at the tendency for teams to win their first home game.
It was another week dominated by the hosts, with 13 games producing eight home wins and five draws. No less than 16 of the 21 teams to play a home game have already picked up at least one win, with Vancouver and Charlotte the only two to remain pointless at home.
That brings them both into focus as week three rolls around, and we will also get to see Minnesota United, Real Salt Lake, Toronto, Sporting KC, and New York City FC play their first home games of the season.
Back the home sides again?
Perhaps not as freely as the first two weeks, but it may be wise to pay close attention to those playing their first home game. We've seen home teams win at a 67 per cent rate so far, but the 2022 season saw home teams win 49 per cent of games.
It may not sound big, but the Premier League for example has averaged 44 per cent home wins over the past five seasons, with MLS averaging just over 50 per cent in the same period.
It would be reasonable to expect to see some home wins amongst the five playing their first home game, and also to look for opportunities to back some undervalued road teams now the early-season dust is beginning to settle. A good example of a worthwhile away team could be Columbus Crew. After taking a beating in their first away game, they'll be targeting a better defensive showing when they visit Toronto this week. Columbus gave away very little in a 2-0 home win over DC United in week two, and they avoided defeat in 13 of 17 away games last season.
It has to be said that Toronto need to start producing before bettors can trust them as such a clear home favourite, and Columbus Crew +0.25AH feels a wise bet.
New York City are the standout amongst the five, having averaged two points per game at home and 2.17 goals per game, whilst only giving up a goal a game.
Inter Miami did not travel well last season, losing 12 of their 17 away games, and there's no reason to believe this season will be significantly different for either side. Nice and simple - back New York City to win.
Philadelphia are still the team to beat
Another fixture that stands out is Philadelphia Union vs Chicago Fire. Philly finished last season with a goal difference of +40 across 17 home games, winning 12 and going unbeaten. Chicago are another team that don't travel well, but they do tend to find the net. Their leaky defence allowed two or more goals in a majority of away games last season, including a 4-1 loss in Philadelphia. The Union opened their season with a 4-1 home win over Columbus and seem to have picked up exactly where they left off, which offers some encouragement that even if Chicago find the back of the net, Philadelphia will still have too much firepower to win the game.
The current price for Philadelphia Union to win and Over 2.5 goals in the game feels generous.
New York City FC vs Inter Miami: New York City to win
Toronto CF v Columbus Crew: Columbus +0.25 AH
Philadelphia Union vs Chicago Fire: Philadelphia to win and Over 2.5 goals
George Dempsey provides tips as MLS Betting UK 2023 on Tipstrr
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