While the UEFA Champions League title is decided this weekend in Berlin, across the Atlantic Ocean the battle for MLS supremacy rages on. The perception that everything is bigger in America finds a perfect example in Major League Soccer. Well, perhaps not bigger, but certainly frequent and congested. Fixtures are crammed into the calendar like Diego Maradona into a Napoli jersey, circa 1990. The Seattle Sounders dug deep to defeat the New York Red Bulls and maintain top spot despite it being their third match in eight days. DC United were lucky to come away with the spoils against Philadelphia Union after Chris Rolfe should have seen red and LA Galaxy managed four points from a possible six even with star striker Robbie Keane only appearing for 45 minutes. I’ve chosen four attractive fixtures to string together a neat quad ahead of another draining weekend.
Thursday 04 June
DC United 11/10
Chicago Fire 22/10
DCU stretched their unbeaten run at home to nineteen matches as a penalty awarded in the 84th minute secured three points against a struggling Philadelphia Union. United find themselves a point behind top club Seattle in the overall standings but have played a game more for their points haul. They battled back from a goal down last week to win 2-1, the equaliser coming from a Chris Pontius header at the back end of the first half. The penalty from Chris Rolfe confirmed the victory but a kick to the Union’s Vincent Nogueira could well have seen him sent off earlier in the piece. DC United face a tough test this weekend against a side who has troubled them in the past. Chicago Fire’s Harrison Shipp marked the beginning of a 3-0 rout of the Montreal Impact with a sparkling strike. Without the ‘keeper having to make a save, Chicago snapped their four-match winless run and will visit DC hungry for three points. Although they lie in the bottom half of the table, Chicago have some room to spare by virtue of having played only eleven times. Nigerian Kennedy Igboananike had an excellent game against Montreal and picked up his first MLS goal. DC United’s strong form at home has to be considered here. The value is there at 11/10 and is simply too good to pass up.
Saturday 06 June
Houston Dynamo 31/20
New York Red Bulls 31/20
Houston Dynamo opened the scoring in their last outing against New York FC by virtue of a David Horst header but poor discipline saw them give away a soft penalty which was cooly slotted by David Villa. Houston and New York shared the spoils last weekend but the point did the Dynamo little good. They struggled to pick up results this season and have only four wins from their fourteen matches, but five draws has seen them accrue a respectable points tally. The New York Red Bulls gave away a goal lead last week to succumb 2-1 to top of the table Seattle. The Red Bulls are perennial underachievers in the MLS playoffs. They’ve made the final only once from nineteen attempts and this season that last push will seem just as elusive considering the departure of key personnel. Along with popular coach Mike Petke, the Red Bulls lost the services of Tim Cahill and Thierry Henry in the off-season but have managed to steady the ship in their absence and are currently third in the Eastern Conference. The bookies have this one priced up evenly and it’s going to be tricky to try and call a winner here. The pair of these sides has a few goals in them and Both Teams to Score looks a clever bet at 7/10.
Sunday 07 June
Sporting Kansas City 12/10
Seattle Sounders 9/4
Sporting Kansas City were simply sensational as they romped to a 4-0 victory over a strong FC Dallas side last weekend. Kristian Nemeth picked up a goal and assist as did Kevin Ellis, Graham Zusi helped himself to a goal and two assists while Benny Feilhaber also found himself on the scoresheet. At the time FC Dallas were leading the Western Conference and now Kansas City will be forced to repeat the feat against the Seattle Sounders. Sporting are unbeaten in six matches and will be looking to carry on their strong home form which has seen them pick up wins in four of their last five matches at Sporting Park. Their good run of form also includes a goalless draw in Seattle two weeks ago. The Sounders are in peak condition themselves. They’ve only dropped points in one of their last eight matches which has also seen them lose once at home all season. Chad Barrett scored thirty seconds into stoppage time to gift the Sounders their 2-1 comeback victory over the New York Red Bulls. Twin strikers Chris Dempsey and Obafemi Martins have terrorised defences all season and have combined for a total of thirteen goals - the most efficient strike partnership in the MLS. The last encounter ended goalless but I can’t see that happening again. The Sounders haven’t lost to Sporting since 2009 and the away win is tipped at a valuable 9/4.
LA Galaxy 17/20
Vancouver Whitecaps 32/10
LA Galaxy shared the points with New England in their last outing. A see-saw first half resulted in four goals, two at each end. This morphed into a scoreless second half that ensured LA Galaxy a winless run of fourteen straight matches on the road stretching back to September 2014. They’ll be pleased to be back on their home patch but will be troubled by injury worries to Jermaine Jones and Robbie Keane. Despite their atrocious form away from home, the Galaxy haven’t lost in their last three outings and are seemingly settling into the season in their trademark way; fashionably late. The Vancouver Whitecaps have only beaten the Galaxy twice since entering the MLS in 2011, but the most recent on these came in the last meeting between the sides in April. The Whitecaps beat Real Salt Lake 2-1 in their last appearance, with young Cristian Techera notching his first club goal. Currently on a season-long loan from Uruguay, the 23-year-old will be looking to make his mark against one of the biggest clubs in the league should he be afforded the chance. The victory leaves the Whitecaps third on the overall standings; their best ever finish for a season came last year, ninth. They do, however, lack composure on the road and the Galaxy don’t lose at the Stubhub Center. Their last loss at the stadium came in March 2014, 26 games ago. Back LA Galaxy at a healthy 17/20.
The quad pays a whopping 20/1, get on while the value is still around!