By Garrett Hinners
BANKER (Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Houston Dynamo)
After going 1-1 last week and eating a little juice, MLS week three is coming. We have bets to place and tickets to cash. It is off to Houston we go for the banker…
Houston Dynamo are hosting the Vancouver Whitecaps and both sides are off to slow starts on the season. Through two games Houston is averaging an expected goals (xG) total of 0.54 while Vancouver is averaging 0.42 xG. The sample size is small, only two games, but there are already some telling signs here.
I do not know where goals come from in Houston, at least in the first half of the season. Carlos Ferreira was brought in this season from Libertad to play center forward and it is clear it is going to take some time for the transition and necessary adjustments for MLS play to take hold. The entire Houston attack has been dismal, though, as evident by their xG mentioned above. It should be too soon into the season for a team to feel completely toothless, but that is how I feel about the Dynamo.
Vancouver is a different story. While they have deservedly struggled in attack as well, I know where the offense is coming from if they get it clicking. My fear, however, is that the Whitecaps have been figured out. Everything they do in attack runs through Ryan Gauld. I have raved about this guy since they brought him over last season and he has the potential to be one of the absolute best players in MLS. Now teams are targeting him, specifically. In week one against the Columbus Crew (before Vancouver’s red card in the second half) Darlington Nagbe, holding midfielder for the Crew, had one job and that was to stay in Gauld’s pocket. Nagbe absolutely limited him superbly. The Whitecaps have yet to have someone step up when Gauld is being targeted so aggressively.
Because I know what Vancouver can do should they figure out a way to free up Gauld, I am going to avoid the match total of 2.5. However, Houston’s team total (TT) under 1.5 is a very attractive price for a team off to an awful start in the final third this season. Fire away.
The plus money parlay hit last week and I have another parlay I am a big fan of, albeit not at such a good price as the previous winner. I am fading (to an extent) NYCFC this weekend as CONCACAF Champions League sides are prioritizing league play second right now and their play shows it. The high flying reigning MLS champs have not scored a goal through two games this season and they are hosting Montreal who are by no means an easy out. They are a tough, gritty team that could very well be looking at a playoff berth this season.
Montreal is a big dog, so I am adding a little more to their spread at +2 and pairing it with D.C. United vs Chicago Fire and the match total of under 3.5. It is going to be very cold Saturday evening in D.C. with some potential snow. United were very stingy at home last season and so far their xG has lived and died on penalty kicks (one in each game so far). Chicago looks like a solid outfit defensively who are still trying to figure out their attack with some big additions and need more time to gel.
Montreal +2 vs. New York City
Chicago Fire vs. DC United Under 3.5 goals