Los Angeles FC vs. Real Salt Lake Odds
|Real Salt Lake Odds||+500|
|Over/Under||3.5 (+120 / -150)|
|Day | Time||Sunday | 10:30 p.m. ET|
|How To Watch||ESPN+|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here|
Short-handed LAFC will look to complete a three-game season series sweep when they host Real Salt Lake on Sunday night.
The Black-and-Gold beat Salt Lake twice in a 15-day stretch earlier this year, 1-0 in Utah on July 3 and then 2-1 in LA on July 17.
But this time, RSL won’t have to account for 2019 MLS MVP Carlos Vela, who is injured, or 2020 MLS Golden Boot winner Diego Rossi, who recently transferred to Fenerbahce in Turkey.
Seventh-place Salt Lake enters three points in front of LAFC. Both teams have 12 matches to play to earn one of seven Western Conference playoff spots.
LAFC Have Improved Form Without Star Players
Although LAFC only snapped an eight-match winless run in Sunday’s 4-0 win over Sporting Kansas City, the performances suggested a breakout was coming.
Manager Bob Bradley’s team leads its opponents in expected goals (xG) 10.2 to 3.2 across the last three games. Almost all of that has come without Vela, who suffered a knee injury in the early minutes of the first match of that string.
The win against SKC also came following Rossi’s move to Turkey becoming official.
Summer acquisition Cristian Arongo has scored in his first two starts in his bid to fill some of the production vacated by Rossi. Defender Mamadou Fall also scored on corner kick headers in each half in the win over SKC.
Vela is one of seven LAFC players listed out on the team’s availability report, which is actually a considerable decrease from their win against Sporting Kansas City last weekend.
But that list doesn’t include defenders Kim Moon-Hwan (South Korea) and Diego Palacios (Ecuador), midfielder Jose Cifuentes (Ecuador) or forward Brian Rodriguez (Uruguay). That quartet spent much of the past two weeks in far flung locations on international duty.
Real Salt Lake Split Results Post New Manager
Freddy Juarez made headlines across MLS when he left RSL’s managerial post to take an assistant position on Seattle manager Brian Schmetzer’s staff.
But the Claret-and-Cobalt do have an ideal interim replacement in Pablo Mastroeni, who previously held the full-time job in Colorado.
After a rough 4-1 loss at Vancouver to open Mastroeni’s time at the helm, RSL rebounded with a 3-2 home win over FC Dallas on goals from Justen Glad, Jony and Albert Rusnak.
The latter now has six for the season, two behind team leader Damir Kreilach and one ahead of Rubio Rubin.
Striker Bobby Wood is the highest profile of RSL’s injury absences, but goalkeeper David Ochoa has been taken off the club’s availability report. The 20-year-old Mexico international hasn’t seen the field since late July due to a knee issue.
Justin Meram (Iraq) is the only RSL player returning from international duty.
Betting Analysis & Pick
The hosts may be coming off a breakthrough performance, but their dominance over SKC was a little deceptive.
While LAFC were the better side through the opening 55 minutes, the match appeared headed to a relatively uneventful 1-0 or 2-0 win until Kansas City’s Roger Espinoza was sent off, opening the floodgates. Also, two goals came from set pieces and a third from a penalty.
So why are they such heavy favorites here? It’s probably down to the -18.4 differential between their goal difference and their xG difference, a stat that suggests LAFC are better than their results so far.
But should they really be 18 goals better? No, especially not now. They are still without two MLS Best XI talents — one temporarily, one permanent. And their struggles are so consistent that it’s almost impossible to attribute it all to variance rather than some other internal deficiencies. (I’ve written about their lack of a starting-caliber center forward previously)
And RSL deserve better on the road than they’ve gotten recently. They’re winless in six, but they’ve only trailed the xG tally 7.2 to 7.7 in their last five.
One last nugget: Three times this season I’ve written about MLS teams trying to complete a three-game series sweep. Each time, they’ve failed, falling to a solid defeat when there was no obvious reason they should.
I’m inclined to believe in this parity-driven league, it really is far tougher to beat a team the third time. Only the Supporters’ Shield leading New England Revolution have done it so far, against the New York Red Bulls.
I’m not saying RSL is some sort of lock. But as often this year, the price on an inconsistent LAFC too high not to fade. I’m playing the visitors on a spread bet at +0.5 goals, +170 odds and an implied 37% probability.
Pick: Real Salt Lake +0.5 (+170)