Cincinnati vs. Atlanta Odds
|Over/Under||2.5 (-121 / -112)|
|Day | Time||Wednesday | 8 p.m. ET|
|How To Watch||FS1 | fuboTV|
|Odds updated Tuesday night via DraftKings.|
Life after Gabriel Heinze begins for Atlanta United on Wednesday night when they visit an FC Cincinnati side still looking for a first win at its new TQL Stadium.
Atlanta fired Heinze only 13 games into his first year as manager and following eight consecutive matches without a victory.
Heinze’s dismissal marked the second time in as many seasons Atlanta has fired its head coach after parting with Frank de Boer following a poor showing at the 2020 MLS is Back Tournament.
Cincinnati has had more patience with Jaap Staam, whose team has performed better on the road of late than at their new home, which opened in mid-May.
But Cincy’s run of four away matches unbeaten came to a spectacular end on Saturday in a 5-4 defeat at CF Montreal.
Cincinnati Is Improving From Poor Start
A defense that began the season as easily the worst in the league has improved markedly since the arrival of former U.S. national team centerback Geoff Cameron.
So it’s unsurprising that their unraveling in Montreal came with Cameron absent. He was one of four players unavailable because of COVID-19 restrictions at the Canadian border.
But while he should return against Atlanta, his fellow defender Ronald Matarrita remains away with the Costa Rica national team at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, as does central midfielder Allan Cruz.
Cincinnati had conceded eight goals in its previous 10 matches prior to twice yielding two-goal leads in the loss to Montreal.
They are now back to second-worst in MLS with 25 goals conceded, and second-worst in allowed expected goals allowed (xG) at 23.61, according to American Soccer Analysis.
There’s better news on offense, where Cincy has scored in five consecutive matches. Luciano Acosta has three goals, three primary assists and been one of the best No. 10s in MLS in his first season in Cincinnati.
According to American Soccer Analysis, he ranks second in MLS in goals added among attacking central midfielders, behind only MVP frontrunner Carles Gil of New England.
Atlanta Begins Life Without Heinze
On Thursday, Heinze revealed his decision to remove Josef Martinez from team training sessions was a personal one and not related to the club all-time leading scorer’s fitness level.
By Sunday — following another anemic offensive performance in a 1-0 home loss to New England — Heinze was the former Atlanta United manager and Martinez was welcomed back to the club.
Interim coach Rob Valentino has promised his team will take more risks, though it’s hard to imagine Atlanta taking fewer.
Heinze’s almost maniacal devotion to pressing and fitness rarely resulted in a team that looked to be showing enterprise in the final third.
Atlanta’s 14.16 xG created are the third-fewest in MLS this season.
If you’re wondering about Martinez’s role in that, he’s only played about 400 minutes this season and scored twice.
But Atlanta scored at least once in six out of the seven matches he played. They’ve been shut out in four of the five matches without him.
Valentino will still be without as many as eight players listed as out or questionable on the team’s availability report between injuries and international call-ups. But that’s an improvement from 12 on Saturday.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Cincinnati was a bargain as a slight moneyline underdog when betting opened. They’re not nearly so much as almost even-money favorites.
And the fact they continue to lose points from winning positions makes it hard to trust them, especially against an Atlanta team that is far more talented than their performances have shown and is getting marginally healthier.
At the same time, I’m not sure you’ll see the same kind of new coach bump we’ve seen in Toronto’s performances following Chris Armas’ dismissal. It always appeared Atlanta was playing hard for Heinze, if not necessarily well.
Martinez’s return won’t solve all of Atlanta’s problems but it will clearly open up spaces for others against a defense that is still questionable even with Cameron in the fold.
Acosta continues to be one of MLS’ best playmaking midfielders. He also has five goals and two assists in eight career matches against Atlanta.
United’s recent offensive struggles have depressed the price on the total over 2.5 goals down to -121 and a 54.5% implied probability. As they say: buy low.
Pick: Total over 2.5 goals (-121)