New York Red Bulls preview
A run of four straight wins put the Red Bulls within striking distance of the top of the Eastern Conference table a few weeks ago. But a tricky three game road run has seen them slip away a bit. Defeats to RSL & New York City sandwiched a disappointing 1-1 at Columbus in which they conceded late. Does this mean the Bulls are suddenly out of form again? Well, not really in my opinion because they’ve never been particularly good away from home anyway. Their 1-2-7 road record this season demonstrates that. But since the early part of the campaign they’ve been imperious at the Red Bull Arena, winning all of their last five contests here. Injury news is more favourable for them ahead of this match but all the talk this week has been about the trade of Lloyd Sam to DC United. Sam was a big part of their offense and now more game time will be given to the mystery that is Gonzalo Veron, or maybe youngster Alex Muyl.
Portland Timbers preview
The reigning MLS Cup champions have generally endured a difficult defence of their crown. However, a recent six match unbeaten run has put them right back in playoff contention in the West and for the first time this season they have come consistent momentum. Portland might have to do without their key playmaker Diego Valeri who is massively doubtful because of injury. Another who is doubtful is centre back and designated player Liam Ridgewell. The Timbers defence has often been shaky this season and one of the main reasons for that was Ridgewell missing half a dozen games back in the early stages of the campaign. Without him they could struggle at the back in a game like this. Portland have at least kept a couple of recent clean sheets, but those have been something of a rarity in 2016. Last week was the first time they failed to score in a match as the rock solid Colorado Rapids managed to shut them out in a 0-0.
These two teams are very similar in that they like to attack. There’s a lot of pace in both ranks and the defending of both sides can be put in question on many occasions. So many games here at the Red Bull Arena are really open and exciting. New York really love to impose themselves on their opponents and dominate right from the first minute with a high intensity. The hosts have to be respected at this venue and few teams have left with anything since the early part of the season. I’d expect NYRB to dominate and create a lot of chances like they always do. I’m sure plenty will be missed but they’ll probably find the net a few times. I expect Portland to be highly dangerous on the break and they have plenty of weapons who can hurt the Red Bulls. Overall, I think we’ll see a home win, but only by a small margin. The match is likely to be high scoring with chances at both ends. The pace and intensity could be quite frantic.
The Red Bulls are priced up pretty short here around the 1.65 mark. Their asian handicap line is in between -1 and -0.75. This looks too skinny, even if you factor in how strong they are at home. Unlike a lot of teams who visit here, Portland will carry a threat and if they convert their chances then the Bulls could be caught cold. So I’m not interested in the main match market, but over 3 goals does tickle my fancy. You could just as easily back over 2.75 @ around the 1.80 mark but I think this match has the potential to really run riot. So in this instance I’m more than happy to take the bigger goal line at a better price. I’ve not got much else to say here. It just feels like the sort of contest which should easily go over between two attack minded teams.
Recommended bet: Over 3 goals @ 2.06 (minimum odds acceptable 1.85)