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MLS Picks of Week 22

Goals rained down to complete a scintillating Sunday in the MLS. The New York Red Bulls rifled in three in the first twelve minutes at the Red Bulls Arena to set a new Major League Soccer record for the fastest team to three goals in a single game. Earlier, Philadephia Union put three past Portland while later in the day Montreal ran out three-goal winners against Columbus Crew. In the highlight of the weekend’s action, New York City and Toronto FC played out an eight-goal thriller at Yankee Stadium with both teams sharing the spoils. DC United head up the league but have played a game more than their nearest rivals three points adrift. All in all, another fascinating weekend awaits America’s rapidly growing commodity.

Saturday 18 July

LA Galaxy 9/20 | Draw 32/10 San Jose Earthquakes 6/1
The Galaxy were afforded a bye from the league last weekend as they contested an International Champions Cup fixture against Mexico’s Club America. Steven Gerrard made his debut in the 2-1 win, starting in midfield and executing a few trademark pinpoint passes to the wings. He was substituted at half time as coach Bruce Arena attempts to coax the former England captain to match fitness. LA Galaxy trounced Toronto FC in their last league outing, Robbie Keane bagging a hat-trick. The San Jose Earthquakes have had a torrid time since their 3-1 win over Galaxy at the end of last month. They’ve lost three in a row in all competitions including a 1-0 loss at home to their Californian counterparts. These two sides must be sick of the sight of each other. Considering Galaxy’s belligerent home form I’m taking them to come out on top at 9/20. 

Toronto FC 19/20 Draw 24/10 Philadelphia Union 26/10
Toronto’s Sebastian Giovinco scored a hat-trick in the space of nine minutes but even that couldn’t drag the Canadians over the line in their extraordinary 4-4 draw with New York City away from home. The match included four penalties, yet another league-record set at the weekend. It obviously came as an improvement for Toronto off the back of their humiliating 4-0 defeat at the hands of LA Galaxy the week prior, but it still means that Toronto have conceded eight goals in two games and are winless in three. Philadelphia Union are currently the riding the crest of a wave. They’re unbeaten in four straight matches and thrashed Portland 3-0 in their last outing courtesy of a Vincent Nogueira brace. The Union have, however, been simply awful on the road this season with all of their recent success coming at home. Despite their leaky defence, back Toronto for the home win at 19/20. 

Sunday 19 July

New England Revolution 9/10 Draw 5/2 New York City 11/4
The New England Revolution are on the slide. They’ve lost five straight games in the MLS and one before that in cup action and have thrown away a promising start to the season. They’re now winless in eleven of their last twelve league games and it will take a miracle on the part of coach Jay Heaps to dig the Revs out of this hole. Patrick Mullins’ 84th-minute strike ensured New York City FC secured a point against Toronto in an eight-goal end-to-end battle. City’s form has been inconsistent as they await the debuts of superstars Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo. Vital away wins have been punctuated with poor performances at Yankee Stadium and City are still languishing near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Lampard could, however, make his debut for the franchise here after shaking off a calf strain that kept him out of action last week while David Villa has scored three braces in four matches. Back New York to pick up the away win at 11/4. 

Orlando City 14/10 Draw 23/10 New York Red Bulls 7/4
Orlando City are hopeful of adding soon discarded Manchester United forward Chicharito to their ranks and are reportedly in talks with the talented Mexican. Orlando’s high-profile signing Kaka has worked wonders at the franchise but with the Brazilian currently suspended, Orlando have struggled. They went down 2-0 to FC Dallas at home last weekend and snapped a three-game winless streak. Bradley Wright-Phillips grabbed two goals and an assist in the first twelve minutes of the Red York Red Bulls’ encounter with the New England Revolution. The Red Bulls eventually ran out 4-1 winners which has seen them score three or more goals in three of their last four matches. This is a tough one to call but betting against Orlando at home paid off last week. I’m tipping the New York Red Bulls to pick up the three points at 7/4. 

Sporting Kansas City 11/20 Draw 29/10 Montreal Impact 9/2
Sporting Kansas City picked up a valuable 1-0 victory on the road against Vancouver last weekend, Kevin Ellis coming up with the vital goal. That makes four wins in five matches for Kansas City. Their recent run of form has seen them take the position of sixth in an extremely strong and tightly-contested Western Conference. A Dominic Oduro brace helped the Montreal Impact end Columbus Crew’s four-match unbeaten run last weekend. Montreal ended a streak of their own with the victory, previously winless in three. The Impact have more than their fair share of games in hand and a handy run could well see them surge up the Eastern Conference rankings. Montreal, however, are terrible on their travels. Their victory away at Columbus Crew early last month was their first in almost two years. Sporting Kansas City are tipped to win comfortably at 11/20. 

FC Dallas 15/20 Draw 26/10 DC United 36/10
Mauro Diaz and David Texeira were both on the scoresheet as FC Dallas eased to a 2-0 victory over Orlando City. Diaz calmly buried a penalty at the back end of the first half before Texeira rounded out the scoring in the 64th minute. Dallas have currently won three games on the trot in the MLS but were embarrassed 6-2 by Sporting Kansas City in a cup fixture two weeks back. DC United sat out of league action last weekend and will be well rested coming into this fixture. They remain top of the MLS overall standings despite failing to pick up three points against both Toronto and Seattle as well as drawing a blank in both of those fixtures. This is a clash of two league heavyweights. FC Dallas are only three points behind DC United and have two games in hand. I’m tipping them to pick up the victory and heap some pressure on a recently toothless DC at 15/20. 

Seattle Sounders 19/20 Draw 23/10 Colorado Rapids 11/4
The Seattle Sounders have managed to hold onto their lead atop the Western Conference despite a miserable run of form that has seen them lose four of their last five clashes. They were stunned last weekend by lowly Chicago Fire, going down 1-0 in the final minutes as Chicago launched an array of relentless attacks. Seattle looked sharp at the beginning of the season and the strike pair of Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins ran riot. Now missing players to international duty, the Sounders have lost their cutting edge. The Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake entered their contest as the lowest-scoring teams in the league and with the match goalless, it looked as though the trend would continue. However, Real broke the deadlock in the 79th minute before Colorado launched a stunning comeback, striking three times to secure back-to-back victories. Seattle are generally a safe bet at their home ground and at 19/20 look good value. 

Real Salt Lake 12/10 Draw 9/4 Houston Dynamo 21/10
Real Salt Lake are struggling towards the bottom of the Western Conference and have only one win to show from their five previous outings. They opened the scoring in a late blooming match against Colorado, Sebastian Jaime scoring his fourth goal in five games for the club before being promptly sent off for punching Colorado’s Drew Moor in the face. The Houston Dynamo are barely better off, sitting only a point above Real Salt Lake. Crucially, they do possess a game in hand. Houston picked up a 2-0 win away from home last weekend at San Jose, their first three points in four attempts. Houston have a slew of players away on Gold Cup duty and will find it difficult to beat Real Salt Lake in Utah. Take the home win/draw Double Chance at 7/20 and you should be safe. 

Portland Timbers 21/20 Draw 23/10 Vancouver Whitecaps 5/2
The Timbers were helpless to prevent a rampant Philadelphia Union from romping to a 3-0 victory on their home patch last weekend. Portland have showed flashes of brilliance this season but overall, struggle with inconsistency. They secured nine victories in twenty matches which is rather impressive in a ruthless league, but have slumped to seven losses which sees them fourth in the Western Conference. Vancouver fans will be disappointed with their recent form after stringing together three wins on the trot away from home, including an historic victory over LA Galaxy at the impenetrable Stubhub Center. Recently Vancouver have succumbed to Colorado and Sporting Kansas City. There is only a point separating these two sides in the Western Conference and with both sides battling recently, I’ll avoid tipping a result. Under 2.5 goals looks a decent bet at 8/10. 

Columbus Crew 19/20 Draw 24/10 Chicago Fire 27/10
Columbus Crew’s run of form that had seen them unbeaten in four straight MLS matches was brought to an end last weekend as they were humbled 3-0 away from home in Montreal. Columbus Crew lie fifth in the Eastern Conference and have a record of six wins, six draws and seven losses. They’ll fancy themselves against bottom of the log Chicago Fire, however, their opponents have recently arrested their awful run of form and secured a morale-boosting win over Seattle in their last outing. That victory was preceded by 1-1 draw with Houston Dynamo away from home. This is another tight match to end the weekend but Columbus Crew’s superior league pedigree should see them through this test at home. Back Crew to pick up the three points at 19/20. 

Written by Rick John Henry for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!