MLS – LA Galaxy v Atlanta United Preview (21/4/18)

Match Preview

West meets East in what is being billed as a heavyweight clash between two teams who have genuine MLS Cup aspirations this season. Both sides are currently second in their respective conferences and in the case of LA Galaxy, they've recently been inspired by the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He helped them come from behind to beat local rivals LAFC 4-3, and then scored the only goal of the game vs Chicago last week. Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan is one of the better custodians in MLS, but he’ll have his hands full here. Zlatan likes to test the opposition from distance, often catching out unaware keepers.

Atlanta are definitely the real deal and won four straight games after their freak 4-0 horror show on the opening day at Houston. But it was interesting to see them (for once) pushed by New York City FC last week. It’s not very often that a team comes to Atlanta and competes really well, but NYC did exactly that. Everyone knows the great strengths that United have in attack with the likes of Almiron, Martinez etc, but at the back they can be vulnerable if pressurised. As it happens, centre back LG Pirez had one of his better performances in an Atlanta shirt last week, but he can be dodgy and prone to the odd error. If the team loses its shape then all sorts of trouble can develop.

This is an interesting match because I can’t help but feel LA Galaxy are the most overrated team in MLS right now, mostly because of the Zlatan effect. But they do have a bunch of strong attacking options and this is their main strength. In some ways Atlanta are also perhaps overrated though, and Galaxy as -0.25 Asian Handicap favourites is probably quite fair for this fixture. In terms of match outcome, nothing would surprise me too much and it's a difficult market to bet in. I do like the overs though. Atlanta are usually an over machine and will only defend stoutly in unusual circumstances, like when they were down to ten men at Minnesota. There are simply too many good attacking players on show here for goals not to be scored. It could develop into a frantic affair in which two juggernauts try and outscore each other, so over 3 goals is definitely my preferred selection.

Prediction: 2-2

Recommended bet 1 unit: Over 3 goals @1.94