Welcome back to another edition of i80 Sports Toll booth- the best place on the web for Major League Soccer Sportsbook Picks!
Sportsbook Picks are always difficult, but with CCL and WCQ limiting availability and requiring players to play on short rest, this week leaves a lot of question marks.
Let's first take a recap of my last article. Week 4 was a poor betting week, but we are still up a few units on the season. Here is our totals (for accountability's sake).
Now, let's get into some MLS week 5 sportsbook picks! We have some tough decisions ahead, but we have some LONG odds on favorable games too! Here are my week 5 MLS Sportsbook Picks!
Match- FC Cincinnati host CF Montreal
Pick- Cincinnati +130
I never saw myself taking FC Cincinnati as a confident pick, but welcome to MLS; here we are.
Cincinnati has had a mixed bag of results this season. They got destroyed opening week in a 5-0 loss to Austin and more recently had a two game win streak vs Orlando and Inter Miami. This squad is nothing special, but they have the ability to beat bad teams. Luckily, that is how I would classify CF Montreal.
Winless through their first 4 matches in MLS and hampered by CCL play, Montreal hasn’t gotten anything going yet this season. They have 18 players with at least 70 minutes played and have lacked continuity on an undeniably talented roster.
Key to the Match-
One of my favorite stats for this Cincinnati team is their opportune scoring. They have 5 goals scored and 10 goals against while sporting a 2-3 record. They HAVE been able to pour it on this season, however, with 66 shots taken, second in MLS.
CF Montreal has proven their defense can't handle this type of pressure. They are bottom 3 with only 26 tackles in their own defensive third, while allowing 68 shots against in their 5 games this season. That is bottom 4 in the league.
One side-bet I like is both teams to score. These defenses are their respective teams’ achilles heel so far in 2022 and I don’t expect that to change.
Match- Columbus Crew host Nashville SC
Pick- Nashville +310
Nashville has struggled early this year, but are still expected to return to their powerhouse form of 2021. We knew the switch from East to West would play a factor early, as would an opening stretch of 8 away games before their new stadium opens. I still expect big things and I think they can face off well against the Columbus Crew.
The Columbus Crew have been great early- one of the reasons for the hefty line in this game. However, they will be without their best player, Lucas Zelarayan. Zelarayan has 4 goals and 1 assist of the team’s 10 goals this season AND has been a huge factor in their early success. Without his services they would have 5 goals and 5 goals against, a pedestrian-at-best differential.
Key to the Match-
The wild card here is Zelarayan’s availability. As of the writing of this article he has not YET been ruled out following a knock against RBNY, but I am expecting him to miss this game.
Nashville has a handful of players who will miss this game, mostly on the defensive side of the ball. Dax McCarty is on suspension while Zimmerman and Godoy are question marks after playing with their home countries in World Cup Qualifying.
All things aside, I assume this game is evenly matched. As our rule goes, when Nashville is plus money, bet on Nashville.
Match- San Jose Quakes host Austin FC
Pick- Austin FC +180
San Jose is one of my early season disappointments- scoring only 4 goals this season (3 against Columbus) while conceding 9 times. To make matters worse, the Quakes have no goals in their last two games.
Austin on the other hand has been all over this season. They scored 10 in their first two matches before being limited to just one in their last two matches. To be fair, those opponents were Timbers and Sounders, perennial MLS Cup Finalists.
Key to the Match-
Austin does one thing well- create scoring chances. They have 7.7 expected goals on 64 shots (5th and 5th in MLS, respectively) while leading the league with ten goals.
In comparison, San Jose has 2.6 expected goals on 32 shots (28th and 27th in MLS, respectively) while scoring only four goals.
That won’t work for San Jose who’s back line is so decimated they ran out a 3-4-3 with Jackson Yueill at center back last match. They do get Francisco Calvo back from international duty (he sat the Costa Rica-USMNT game this weekend to avoid yellow card accumulation). At this point in his career, I don’t even know that he is an upgrade.
Match- Portland Timbers host LA Galaxy
Pick- LA Galaxy +195
When two good west coast teams play, it is almost guaranteed to be an excellent late-night game for us east coasters. This game, however, will kick off at 4:30 ET as the only Sunday match of the week, and it should bring some MLS weekend fireworks!
The LA Galaxy come in as big underdogs against a team that could be without two important defenders. Jose Van Rankin will miss this week’s match for Portland after being sent off against Orlando, and Bill Tuiloma will likely miss after an international call up with New Zealand this week.
Key to the Match-
Galaxy can win this matchup if their top players act like the stars they were signed to be.
Chicharito is second in the league with 15 shots and 8 shots on target. He is an undisputed target man up top for the Galaxy, and is not getting service from Diego Costa, Julian Araujo, and Raheem Edwards.
Galaxy have too much talent to not score in favorable matchups, and I would consider this a favorable matchup. I don’t know what odds would push me to bet AGAINST them, but at +195 this is a case of “the price is right.”
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