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MLS is Back Day 4 Odds & Picks: Atlanta vs New York & Cincinnati vs Columbus

Atlanta in training
MLS Cup winners in 2018 Atlanta United train ahead of their opener against New York Red Bulls in the MLS is Back tournament at the ESPN Complex in Orlando. Photo By @ATLUTD (Twitter)
  • The MLS is Back tournament is up and running and Group E kicks off on Day 4
  • First up it’s Atlanta vs New York RB, followed by Cincinnati vs Columbus
  • We list the odds for both games and preview three, offering our best picks

The MLS has finally emerged from lockdown and returns with a soccer bonanza in Orlando. Six groups will eventually be reduced to 16 teams for the next phase of the tournament, and then the traditional knockout format will end in a final on August 11. But, for now, we’re looking at Group E, which kicks off on Saturday.

We’ll list the schedule, show the odds, preview both games, and offer a pick for each.

MLS is Back Day 4 Odds – Group E

Team Spread Moneyline Total
Atlanta United -½ (+101) +106 Ov 3 (+100)
New York Red Bulls +½ (-122) +230 Un 3 (-120)
Draw N/A +240 N/A
Team Spread Moneyline Total
FC Cincinnati +½ (-106) +270 Ov 2½ (-107)
Columbus Crew -½ (-114) -111 Un 2½ (-113)
Draw N/A +255 N/A

All odds taken July 10

Atlanta United vs New York Red Bulls

First up in Group E is a clash between the two favorites on Saturday, July 11, 8:00 pm EST with both Atlanta and the Red Bulls knowing the important thing here is not to lose.

Atlanta start as favorites, partly off the back of two early-season wins but also due to their pedigree, having won the MLS Cup in 2018 and reaching the Eastern Conference Final last season. Not only are they among the favorites to win this tournament, they also will be in the mix for the 2020 MLS Cup

Red Bulls had a disappointing 2019 by their standards and finished sixth in the Eastern Conference, but a winter shake-up has given their squad a more youthful and energetic look for the new season. Much will depend on how quickly their new signings settle in.

One thing that does look likely in this one is goals. The last time these two met it was 3-3, and historically these two have often produced high-scoring, entertaining games. Atlanta’s biggest win against Saturday’s opponents was a 3-0 win back in 2018, but worth noting is that they have failed to keep a clean sheet in five of their six meetings since.

But, as is often the case in the first match of a new tournament, there will be an element of caution, as well as the issue of both teams finding their feet after the prolonged layoff. So, yes, expect goals, but also bear in mind both teams will be content with a draw. A 1-1 looks a good bet to me, although the straight draw at +240 also offers good value

Pick: Atlanta and New York RB to draw (+240)

FC Cincinnati vs Columbus Crew

Crew’s 10th-place finish in last season’s Eastern Conference was a disappointment for them, and they’ll be hoping for a better 2020, starting in Orlando against FC Cincinnati on Saturday, July 11, at 10:30 pm EST. In theory, the schedule has been kind to them as they face the group’s minnows, but there will be an edge to this one with it being an Ohio derby, even with no fans present.

Cincinnati was one of the league’s expansion teams in 2019 and it was a difficult first season, but they will be confident of a better 2020. While they began the regular season with two defeats – against fellow Group E teams Atlanta and New York RB – they played well in both games and narrowly lost both by the odd goal. This, oddly, will have given them some belief that they will look to build on in Orlando.

And with the experienced Dutchman Jaap Stam now in charge, Cincinnati will draw from their difficult experiences in 2019 and, while statistically one of the weakest teams in the MLS, will see a tournament of this kind as the perfect leveler and a great chance to get a foothold in 2020. They’ll also look to use the rustiness of other teams to get their first win on the board and to end a miserable winless run.

By contrast, Crew is on a ten-game unbeaten run after finishing the 2019 season strongly, and have a 100% win rate against their Ohio rivals, so everything, on paper at least, points to a Columbus win. But, like all of the teams in Orlando, Crew have been inactive for four months, and with layoffs of that length comes a loss of rhythm and form.

So, on that basis, this game represents a great chance for Cincinnati to get on the board and get their first points against their state rivals. The +270 for the FC win looks like value to me.

Pick: FC Cincinnati to win (+270)

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