New York City won the MLS Cup last December and we are now embarking on another season in the main domestic soccer league in North America. There are 14 teams in the Eastern and Western Conference who play 34 fixtures over the regular season. Each league leader qualifies for the final series while the teams from 2nd to 7th in the final standings progress to the playoffs.
There are changes in player and management personnel during any close season. The MLS draft in January will potentially strengthen some clubs with the recruitment of the best college players. It is akin to the NFL draft so picks are based on records from the previous season. It is difficult to predict the impact of new players so some standout teams from 2021 are featured in our MLS picks.
Philadelphia Union vs Minnesota United – 1 pm, Saturday
MLS Pick – Philadelphia to beat Minnesota at (-130) with Pointsbet
Philadelphia are one of the home bankers of matchday 1 in Saturday’s fixture. They finished second behind New England in the Eastern Conference, despite losing eight of 34 fixtures. However, they lost just three home-field advantage matches with a positive goal difference of 15 goals. Minnesota finished fifth in the Western Conference and didn’t get beyond the last 16 round in the playoffs. The Union can start the season with maximum points in Philadelphia.
Portland Timbers vs New England Revolution – 7.30 pm, Saturday
|Bet||MLS Cup Odds|
MLS Pick – Portland to beat New England at (+140) with Pointsbet
Portland built up great momentum and team spirit during the playoffs. They had the huge advantage of playing the MLS Cup at their own stadium and produced a decent performance. However, they lost to New York City after extra time and penalties which was a huge disappointment for the passionate home crowd who will fill the stadium for the opening match on Saturday night.
New England won the Eastern Conference by 19 points from Philadelphia. They lost just five fixtures, scoring 65 goals and conceding 41. Giving up more than one goal on average during the regular season was possibly a warning sign for the playoffs. They lost to the eventual MLS Cup winners at home on penalties at the quarterfinals stage and Portland are tipped to make a winning start.
Houston Dynamo vs Real Salt Lake – 7 pm, Sunday
MLS Pick – Real Salt Lake to beat Houston at (+275) with Pointsbet
Houston finished bottom of the 2021 Western Conference and only the bottom two teams in the Eastern Conference won fewer points. The Dynamos won 6 of 17 home fixtures during which they scored 21 times bit conceded one more goal. Houston had the worst scoring record at home during last season in the MLS and the most inferior goal difference.
Salt Lake clawed their way into the playoffs after finishing sixth in the Western Conference. However, they outperformed that position in the post-season. Salt Lake lost to Portland on the road in the playoff semi-finals after winning away in the first two rounds. So, they can win on the road at difficult places to visit so a win in Houston on Sunday is the prediction.