Sunday morning’s football is dominated by the MLS, with all four of our best bets coming from the States. There is no shortage of great games to choose from, with the league currently playing out ‘rivalry week’, which sees Houston visiting fellow Texas side Dallas amongst others.
CONCACAF Champions League finalists Los Angeles FC are also in action, as they continue to build up to the first of two legs against Mexican side Leon.
Chicago Fire v Atlanta United
Rivalry week concludes in the MLS in the early hours of Sunday morning and it does so with a clash between two Eastern Conference teams when the Chicago Fire take on Atlanta United for the second time this season.
There was late drama when the sides met at Mercedes-Benz earlier in the campaign and that probably isn’t a surprise because late goals have been a feature of Chicago Fire matches all season and was so again in midweek when Charlotte came from behind to beat them.
Atlanta will head to Soldier Field buoyed by a very good 4-0 win over a gun shy Colorado Rapids in midweek. The important thing for them in that match was that Georgios Giakoumakis got more minutes and scored the fourth goal so they are likely to have him available from the start here.
Chicago kept Kei Kamara away from the defeat to Charlotte FC so they will have the veteran striker available here and under Frank Klopas the Fire are utilising both Xherdan Shaqiri and Bryan Gutierrez in offensive areas which will make them hard to defend against.
Atlanta go into this match with their last six outings having gone over 2.5 goals. With the attacking quality they have that is certainly no surprise, and it is a trend I expect to continue here.
Five of the last seven Chicago matches have also gone over 2.5 and with their weakness of conceding late goals we are still likely to be in the game right towards the end should we go into the last 10 minutes needing a goal.
I don’t think we will though. I like over 2.5 goals here.
FC Dallas v Houston Dyanmo
One of the matches which contributes to ‘Rivalry Round’ in the MLS comes from Toyota Stadium in the early hours of Sunday morning when the two most established teams in Texas collide when FC Dallas take on Houston Dynamo.
These two have both made positive starts to the season and sit inside the playoff zone in the Western Conference but the Dynamo have done most of their better work at home, which isn’t ideal when it comes to travelling to their bitter rivals.
Houston have picked up just one point in five matches on their travels and even that wasn’t a great result with New York Red Bulls yet to get going when the two met. They only have three goals in those matches too which is very much a concern.
The reason why it is a concern is because Dallas have one of the hottest strikers in MLS at the minute in Jesus Ferreira and he duly bagged a brace in the win over Vancouver in midweek.
Those were goals 14 and 15 that Dallas have scored this term, 10 of which have come at home where they have a 4-1-1 record. That home loss was in their opening game of the season when one or two players were getting up to speed after shorter pre-seasons.
The only points Dallas have dropped at home since the opening day was against a talented Portland Timbers side. Houston don’t match those for talent and clearly struggle away from home at the minute.
You have to go all the way back to 2011 for the last time Houston won on this ground. They have lost five of the last six Dallas home matches and given their road issues I fancy another Dynamo defeat here.
LAFC v San Jose Earthquakes
Two of the three California teams meet on Sunday morning when the champions Los Angeles FC play host to the only team to have beaten them so far this season in the San Jose Earthquakes. That meeting was just two weeks ago so it will be interesting to see what both teams learned from that game.
Los Angeles will probably point out that the previous contest came straight after a Champions League semi-final where they put in a fair amount of effort and seemed a little flat so you would imagine there is plenty of improvement in them for this encounter.
San Jose Earthquakes will have the confidence of knowing that they can beat LAFC this season, they also know they have one of the best players in MLS through the opening third of the campaign in Cristian Espinoza and if he lights up he is a problem for anyone.
I took over 2.5 goals between these two at Levi’s Stadium earlier in the month when I pointed out that nine of the 10 MLS meetings they had played out had gone over. We can now extend that to 10 from 11 after the Earthquakes’ 2-1 win and that is a trend I expect to continue here.
It is now six of the last seven San Jose matches which have had more than 2.5 in them while four of the last six games involving Los Angeles have also had three or more goals, with the other two finishing 1-1. Goals just come when these two meet and I see no reason to expect anything different here.
Vancouver Whitecaps v Seattle Sounders
The final match of the second part of ‘Rivalry Week’ sees the Cascadia Cup continuing when two of the three teams involved in that competition meet up in Canada where the Vancouver Whitecaps host the Seattle Sounders.
If we put the Cascadia Cup to one side for a minute, this is a big match because Vancouver currently occupy the final playoff spot but will feel they have had a better season than that, while Seattle sit top of the Western Conference and will be looking to plough on after a good first third of the season.
Seattle have slowed down a touch though from their emphatic start to the season. They now only have one win in their last four matches in MLS with a couple of surprise home defeats in that time which will concern them.
Vancouver have lost their last two matches after looking like a really good team. They have no need to panic though. One of those defeats was at Portland who sparkled on the evening and the other was in Dallas. They look much more confident on home soil though.
I am expecting to see goals in this match. It is becoming a theme of the Cascadia Cup that goals come readily. Two of the three matches this season have covered a 2.5 goal line while last season five of the six had three goals in them and the other was 1-1. There was a 6-2 and a 4-1 in 2021 too.
The last three Vancouver matches have been full of goals while Seattle are beginning to get enough creative players back to be back in the goals themselves and I expect the high scoring trend of this rivalry to continue.
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