For the 2021 MLS Season here at i80 Sports we hope to supplement our MLS weekly YouTube news, recap, and prediction videos with a weekly article highlighting the best bets in MLS for each week.
As a quick side for sportsbook beginners, any bet with a + before the numbers is what we call plus money. If you bet $100 on a +125 wager, for example, you would win $125 and cash out $225 on your original $100 bet (when you win, you get the original bet back). If you bet just $10 on the same +125 bet, you would win $12.50 on your original $10 and cash out for $22.50.
An amount such as +100 is considered even money because on a $100 bet you can win $100, and cash out for $200. Think of these like a roulette spin.
Bob’s Pick #1-
KC +175 at Red Bull
The incomplete and underwhelming roster under new head coach Gerhard Struber of RBNY is going to have some growing pains. I can only imagine that SKC getting +175 is an ode to the days where Red Bull Arena meant guaranteed points for the home team.
The KC roster is flat out BETTER than Red Bull- from Alan Pulido to a SKC midfield that can control the game. If Sporting can stay calm under the Red Bull press (Sporting can employ the energetic press themselves), I think they can leave RBA with a much coveted away win.
Key to the Match- I want to keep an eye on the matchup between right winger Johnny Russell and the left back on Red Bull (who SHOULD be Andrew Gutman). Russell is a left footed right winger who likes to cut in and shoot, meaning Gutman (formerly of back-to-back wooden spoon winning Cincinnati) can be in for a long day.
Bob’s Pick #2-
Orlando City +100 hosting Atlanta
I love when you can get even money on a favorite at home.
Just when Josef Martinez is ready to make his return to the spotlight, he gets matched up against Brizilian and former AC Milan attacker Alexandre Pato. Pato joins a powerful attack with superstar Nani and budding American Chris Mueller in what should be a powerful 1-2-3 punch this season.
Oscar Pareja got the most out of his Orlando team last season while Atlanta will turn to their new manager Gabriel Heinze to right the ship after a disappointing 2020. Atlanta is 8-3-16 on the road over the past two seasons, and should start off with a road loss in 2021. It is also worth noting they had a mid-week game against Alajuelense during a CONCACAF match this Tuesday.
Key to the Match- I would find it hard to blame ALL of Atlanta’s offensive woes from 2020 on missing Josef Martinez- they lacked consistency from Ezequiel Barco and the supporting cast. To fix the problem, this offseason they brought in a new designated player in Marcelino Moreno who was sold as the #10 prototype.
This week in their CONCACAF game Atlanta lined up in a 3-4-2-1 with Barco as left attacking midfielder. If they add Marcelino to the right of the same formation I could see Orlando City’s defensive midfielders being employed to slow them down. Rosell, Jhegson Mendez, and Junior Urso could all be in for a big day.
Bob’s Pick #3-
Cinci +350 at Nashville
Since I just talked a little about the back-to-back golden spoon winner, I guess it’s time to take a bet ON Cincy in week one. This is my riskiest pick of the week but let’s remember that at a HEAVY reward of +350 we should be asking CAN Cincinnati win, not necessarily WILL they win.
Nashville was just OK in 2020 going 8-8-7, and a lot of the success we remember from last season was from the MLS Cup Playoffs where they faced opponents riddled with injury and COVID absences. They were just OK most of the season.
On the other side of the coin we have Cincy. Still settling in from a turbulent ride as an expansion team, they went out and spent money to bring in 21 year-old Brazilian striker Brenner who last season scored 11 for Sao Paulo. They weren’t done just yes, as they also picked up the MLS rights to Luciano Acosta from DC United.
Brenner will have all eyes on him as the $13 million dollar man NEEDS to put up double digit goals in 2021, including having a strong day against Dave Romney and Walker Zimmerman in the middle of the Nashville defense.
Key to the Match- Jaap Stam, coach of FC Cincinnati, will have no problem bunkering and daring Nashville to break through with that individual moment of brilliance from Jhonder Cadiz or Hany Mukhtar. I like Nashville’s new look attack, but their hesitance to go all in under Manager Gary Smith (at times to a fault) has this game as a TRUE toss up.
Which team holds possession? Which team comes out swinging? Is this the most boring tie of the week? Could be- but at +350 I will have no problem paying for that information.
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