FC Cincinnati v Houston Dynamo
MLS is back this weekend and one of the matches to enjoy comes from TQL Stadium where one of the surprise packages of last season, FC Cincinnati, go up against a team who have stunk the league out for a couple of years in Houston Dynamo.
Such has been the disappointing time that the Dynamo have had of things in recent times that they have turned to Ben Olsen to try and turn their fortunes around. There is always a high turnover of players in MLS rosters but the one that has taken place in Houston feels extreme to say the least and even if it works you would imagine that we are going to see the best of them later in the season when those new recruits have gelled a little.
That is the exact opposite to FC Cincinnati who haven’t seen much in terms of a turnover of personnel, and the changes they have made only looks to have made them stronger on paper.
Importantly, the Blue and Orange have kept the trio of Luciano Acosta, Brandon Vazquez and Brenner intact and that threesome could lead them to big things this season.
Only three teams outscored FC Cincinnati last season and the addition of Santiago Arias and a full season of Matt Miazga looks to have strengthened them sufficiently at the back. I am expecting a big campaign for Pat Noonan’s charges and they can begin that in fine style with a home win over a Houston team whose best football might be a few weeks away.
Atlanta United v San Jose Earthquakes
Two teams who will look to rebound from disappointing campaigns a year ago meet at Mercedes-Benz Stadium where Atlanta United begin life without Josef Martinez when they play host to San Jose Earthquakes.
To say things did not go to plan with Atlanta United last term would be something of an understatement. Some of that was down to some big injuries which hampered them throughout the campaign and others were of their own doing such as the manager and front office staff falling out with Martinez and in the end it was all a mess.
That led to the exit of the highest scorer in the history of the club and now they need to show that life can be profitable without him. To be fair to the Five Stripes, they have gone well to replace him with the former Celtic forward Georgios Giakoumakis, while Edwin Mosquera and Derrick Etienne Jr look good signings as well.
San Jose Earthquakes have brought in some defensive reinforcements, which was an obvious need for them. Jonathan Mensah looks a great addition to the ranks while Rodrigues comes with a big reputation but they’ll need a little bit of time to adjust to new surroundings and so I expect a pretty open game here.
One thing we know about Atlanta is they will always go on the offensive at home and with the likes of World Cup winner Thiago Almada pulling the strings there are goals in them. The Earthquakes showed last season that scoring goals isn’t a problem for them either so over 2.5 goals looks a genuinely good bet here.
Independiente v Blooming
Both teams have experienced a torrid start to the season with just a point between them to their name three games into the season. Their goal averages however are high, with Blooming having a four in favour and eight against (12/3= average 4 per game) and Independiente two scored and eight conceded (10/3= 3.33 per game).
Although not a particularly known derby, this match fixture has been played 52 times on and off since 1981. Overall Blooming lead the head to head 30-12 with ten draws. In Sucre the duel is much tighter, Independiente leading 11-10 with the remaining five games being draws. Although the commonest result between them is 1-0 (nine times) the goal average between them is high (167 goals in 52 games for an average of 3.21).
Blooming, one of the big 5 in Bolivia have been in serious financial and board trouble for several years now and barely avoided relegation on the last day in 2021. Independiente have traditionally been a midtable outfit from Sucre who came up in 2020 and then took the league by storm to win the 2021 title in one of the most unexpected triumphs in Bolivian league history.
Carlos Bustos replaced Thiago Leitao as Blooming manager during the week while Independiente also have a new man in charge, former player Alvaro Peña.
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