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MLS Predictions, Odds Week 1: DC vs Toronto, Portland vs SKC & More MLS Picks

Ryan Metivier

by Ryan Metivier in Soccer News

Feb 24, 2023 · 4:31 PM PST

Official MLS soccer ball for 2023 season
Feb 20, 2023; Orlando, FL, USA; the 2023 Adidas MLS ball at Exploria Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
  • The 2023 MLS regular season kicks off on Saturday, February 25, 2023, with 11 games on Saturday, one Sunday and another on Monday
  • Opening weekend in Major League Soccer sees us making DC United vs TFC picks, Austin FC vs St Louis City SC picks and more
  • See all of the MLS odds plus our top MLS predictions for Week 1 here

North American soccer returns with the 28th season of Major League Soccer kicking off on Saturday. LAFC are the current champs, but their kick off match with the LA Galaxy will have to wait as weather has postponed the match. We’re breaking down the rest of the card in our MLS predictions for Week 1 here.

Ahead of the MLS regular season kick-off, it’s LAFC, Philadelphia Union and NYCFC favored in the MLS Cup odds for 2023. Both LAFC and Philly, plus Austin, Orlando and Vancouver will all participate in the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) this year.

Read on for the MLS picks for Week 1 this weekend below. For sports bettors in Ohio and Massachusetts, this year brings a big opportunity to bet on your local teams. Legalized Ohio sports betting launched earlier this year. Meanwhile, be sure to claim this FanDuel Massachusetts pre-registration offer to be locked and loaded for the state launch on March 10, 2023.

This week FC Cincinnati hosts the Houston Dynamo, while the Columbus Crew travels to Philadelphia. The New England Revolution open the season on the road in Charlotte.

MLS Odds Week 1

Matchup Home Draw Away
Nashville vs NYCFC +100 +230 +250
Cincinnati vs Houston -175 +310 +370
Atlanta vs San Jose -195 +330 +420
Orlando vs New York +125 +220 +195
DC vs Toronto +125 +250 +175
Charlotte vs New England +105 +260 +210
Philadelphia vs Columbus -155 +270 +360
Miami vs Montreal +145 +240 +155
Dallas vs Minnesota -135 +260 +320
Austin vs St Louis -170 +280 +420
Portland vs Sporting KC -110 +260 +230
Vancouver vs Real Salt Lake +125 +230 +190
Seattle vs Colorado -135 +270 +300

The MLS odds for Week 1 above list Austin FC as the biggest favorites at home to expansion side St Louis, as well as FC Cincinnati at home to the Houston Dynamo. FCC bettors can still get plus-money on each of Brandon Vazquez, Brenner and Luciano Acosta to score in that game; all of whom finished with double-digit goals last season. The lone Sunday matchup sees Seattle as -135 favorites at home to Colorado. With an odd amount of teams this season at 29, the Chicago Fire will be the one team on bye this week. Meanwhile El Trafico at the Rose Bowl has been postponed due to inclement weather in Los Angeles. Odds from February 24 at FanDuel Sportsbook. Be sure to claim the latest FanDuel promo code to bet on this weekend’s MLS odds.


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MLS Predictions & Stats for Week 1

Last year in Week 1 there were 35 goals in 14 games. Over/Unders were 7-7 and both teams scored in five of those 14 games.

However, overall, the average goals per game last year was 2.96. A final score of 2-1 was the most common scoreline with 59 games (12%) of finishing with that result. 80 percent of games went over 1.5 goals, while 58 percent went over 2.5.

Home advantage plays a big role in MLS with 49 percent of all games being won by the home team last season. Away wins and draws happened 26 and 25 percent respectively. The other common trend in this league is goals from both sides. Only five teams (Philadelphia, Charlotte, NYCFC, Chicago and DC) saw fewer than 50 percent of their games featuring goals from both sides. There were 15 teams that had 60 percent or more of their games having both teams scoring. FC Cincinnati (24 games), Atlanta United (24) and Portland all went over 70 percent. All said, 59 percent of MLS games saw goals from both sides in 2022.

Why is all this important? It’s to say that while picking outright winners in MLS can often be hard with so much parity, you can find trends to follow. It’s not the league to usually go looking for big road underdogs to cash. It is a league that usually serves up plenty of scoring, making it great for neutrals. And with us only being in Week 1 and not having seen some of these teams or new players in action yet, we’re taking a conservative approach to our MLS predictions for Week 1 here. It’s a strategy that’s worked, leaving us 77-56, +11.04 units in the 2022 season.

DC United vs Toronto FC Prediction

Recent results between these teams have read 2-2, 2-1, 3-1, 7-1, 2-2, 2-2, 5-1 and 1-1. See a trend? It’s goals coming from both sides.

Toronto conceded a goal in 31/34 games last season, on their way to allowing the third-most goals in the league at 66. They worked on improving the defensive side of the ball this offseason by clearing house in net and bringing in MLS Cup-winning and USMNT keeper Sean Johnson from NYCFC. TFC also signed FC Dallas captain and veteran CB Matt Hedges and brought in LB Raoul Petretta from Turkey and CB Sigurd Rostred from Denmark.

Offensively, with Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi, they should put up plenty of offense. TFC also added Adama Diomande from LAFC at striker. The starting XI looks strong, but beyond that the main questions are depth.

While pre-season doesn’t count for much, the early returns look much like how last season ended. Their results have been: 3-0 (L), 2-1 (L), 2-2 (D) and 2-1 (L). TFC now hasn’t tasted victory in ten overall matches.

DC could be looked at similarly to TFC. After all, these teams did finish 13th (Toronto) and 14th (DC) last season in the East. DC allowed the league’s most goals with 71. Their preseason results have read 3-2 (L), 2-1 (W) and 2-1 (L). They allowed a goal in 28/34 games last season.

United made tons of moves this offseason with players coming and going as manager Wayne Rooney looks to put his stamp on the team. Polish international and formers Leeds No. 10 Mateusz Klich joins a midfield with tons of question marks. But a forward unit that didn’t resign second-leading scorer Ola Kamara still has plenty of attacking firepower with Christian Benteke and Taxi Fountas. However, winger Martin Rodriguez is done before the year even starts with an ACL injury in preseason.

Right now there’s nothing point to this being anything different than what we usually see from these teams.

  • MLS Predictions: Both teams to score (-165), risk 1 unit at Caesars Sportsbook

Portland Timbers vs Sporting Kansas City Prediction

Scheduling not. This match has been moved to Monday night at 10:00 pm EST due to severe winter weather expected in Portland Saturday night.

These teams played twice last season and the total combined goals between them were 14. Portland won 7-2 and Sporting won 4-1, each at home.

Portland’s pre-season, for what it’s worth has been 4-1 and 1-0 wins, plus a 2-2 draw. SKC’s pre-season results were a 4-2 win on the weekend, plus two 2-2 draws.

No team saw more of their games cashing the ‘both teams to score’ market than Portland who saw 26/34 games finish that way last season. And I’m not sure how that doesn’t continue into 2023. They spent a reported $10 million to bring in Brazilian midfielder Evander who was leading the Europa League in assists before the move. In 167 appearances for Danish club Midtjylland, he totaled 50 goals and 58 assists. He surely improves an offense that already scored the eighth-most goals (53) in the league last season. But the Timbers did little to improve their defense that also gave up 53 goals. They’ve also lost CB Bill Tuiloma who had over 100 appearances with the club.

SKC was dreadful to start last season but came on strong in the end going 5-2-1 in their final eight games. There was no standout player offensively for SKC in 2022 as both Johnny Russell and William Agada topped the scoring charts with eight goals. However, Agada did so, while adding two assists in only 11 games. Alan Pulido missed the entire season but looks set to return from injury in 2023.

Nemanja Radoja with almost 200 La Liga appearances is a big addition at d-mid, but starting CB Kortne Ford is done for the year already through injury, thus leaving more defensive questions.

MLS Week 1 Parlay Picks

Here’s a two-teamer for this weekend as part of your MLS predictions.

Austin FC vs St Louis City SC

Austin was second in the West last season and scored the third-most goals in the league. They were 8-6-3 (WDL) at home at Q2 Stadium. Nearly that whole squad, plus Gyasi Zardes returns as one of the MLS Cup favorites and they’ll be hosting expansion side St. Louis City SC in their first-ever MLS game. Not much will be expected from St Louis in their first season and thus far their pre-season results have seen them go 0-3-2, being outscored 11-7.

Philadelphia Union vs Columbus Crew

My pick to win the MLS Cup at +700 odds, the Philadelphia Union tied for the most points in the regular season and set an MLS record for goal-differential at +46. They fell just short, losing to LAFC in the MLS Cup—their only loss in their past ten matches. Now six of those ten matches have been preseason games, but they’ve gone 4-2-0 in those, outscoring opponents 16-8 and picking up right where they left off last season. Every starter returns from a squad that scored in 31/37 total regular season and playoff games last season.

  • MLS Parlay Picks: Austin to win & Philadelphia to score (-121); risk 1 unit at FanDuel Sportsbook

MLS Goalscorer Props

Here are a few players to consider for goalscoring props this weekend.

  1. Georgios Giakoumakis anytime goalscorer (+130): While they won’t openly say it, Giakoumakis is the obvious replacement at striker for the departed club-legend Josef Martinez. He scored 26 goals in 18 months with Celtic and will be going up against an Earthquakes’ defense that allowed the second-most goals against last season with 69.
  2. Sebastian Driussi anytime goalscorer (-110): Driussi is the focal point of the Austin attack and led the team with 24 goals and was second in the Golden Boot race last year. He starts the season at home, against an expansion team in St. Louis.
  3. Federico Bernardeschi (+185) & Lorenzo Insigne (+175) anytime goalscorers: Two of the three worst defensive teams are meeting between DC and Toronto and matchups between these two sides usually produce goals. And when Toronto scores, one or both of these players are usually involved. In their short time with the club, Bernardesci scored eight goals in 12 games and Insigne six in 11.

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