- Tournament favorites LAFC play their opening game at the MLS is Back tournament
- City rival Los Angeles Galaxy also open their challenge, taking on the Portland Timbers
- See all the odds and best bets for the MLS is Back July 13 matches below
As might be expected given the long layoff between competitive games for Major League Soccer’s clubs, goals have been hard to come by so far in the MLS is Back tournament.
The first four games, for example, had an average of just 1.25 goals per game. Still, that should change on Monday, as Group F gets underway. Tournament favorites Los Angeles FC play their opening game against the defensively challenged Houston Dynamo, while the Los Angeles Galaxy entertain the Portland Timbers.
Here are all the odds for Monday’s games.
MLS Is Back July 13 Odds
|Los Angeles FC||-0.5, -1 (-115)||-145||O 3.5 (-105)|
|Houston Dynamo||+0.5, +1 (-110)||+325||U 3.5 (-120)|
|Los Angeles Galaxy||0.0 (-115)||+150||O 3.0 (-125)|
|Portland Timbers||0.0 (-110)||+155||U 3.0 (EVEN)|
Odds taken July 11
LAFC vs Houston Dynamo
Bob Bradley’s tournament and group favorites will take the field in Orlando on Monday for what is arguably their first pressure-filled game since last year’s playoff elimination at the hands of the Seattle Sounders.
However, unlike that Western Conference final upset, this time they will be without the services of 2019 MLS MVP and 34-goal top scorer Carlos Vela. The former Mexican World Cup star decided to sit out the tournament with all of its accompanying uncertainty amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You have to be really smart, you have to be all together. That’s how you do well in this tournament.”
Diego Rossi on what it will take to succeed in the #MLSisBack tournament. #LAFC pic.twitter.com/bsBScYBuWO
— LAFC (@LAFC) July 11, 2020
But while Vela’s absence is a blow, it’s not as if Bradley doesn’t have a plethora of other attacking options at his disposal. Most principally that responsibility will fall to Diego Rossi, who had 28 MLS goals in his two seasons before adding another in the first two games before this season was halted in March. That pair of games resulted in a 1-0 win over Inter Miami before a goal-filled affair in a 3-3 draw with Philadelphia.
As far as easing into a tournament goes, it doesn’t get much more comfortable for a side like LAFC than a game against the Houston Dynamo. LAFC beat them 3-1 both at home and away last year, with the Dynamo ultimately finishing 10th in the Western Conference.
Time to measure ourselves against some of the best pic.twitter.com/Av3mnyWCaw
— Houston Dynamo (@HoustonDynamo) July 9, 2020
Tab Ramos took the reins as the team’s new head coach in the off-season, but much work remains on the evidence of the first two games of the season. Despite a creditable 1-1 draw in the season opener, the following week the Dynamo was soundly beaten 4-0 by Sporting KC.
Houston faces a tough task to qualify from this group, and it will hope for more goals from Mauro Manotas, who has the team’s lone goal of the season so far and had 19 just two years ago. The layoff also proved a blessing for designated player Alberth Ellis, who missed the first two games with injury. The Honduran international will also be counted upon to provide a cutting edge up front.
Pick: LAFC To Win (-145) & Over 3.5 (-105)
Los Angeles Galaxy vs Portland Timbers
One goal in two games was not the start that LA Galaxy fans were expecting from the 2020 season, particularly after making some splashes to improve on last season’s fifth-place finish in the West.
Finishing 21 points behind city rivals LAFC just won’t do for the five-time MLS Cup champions, so management went out and secured the services of former Manchester United frontman Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, making him the highest-paid player in MLS.
Y en video … both languages English and Spanish #LAGalaxy #Mexicano Chicharito on his decision and #LAFC’s Vela’s … #MLSisBack @RobAbramowitz @ELROLONW @arieljudas @Alexparella @jguesman @LAGalaxy https://t.co/bfuyUGvMR0 pic.twitter.com/tX4uYyKEfL
— John E. Rojas (@jrojasa75) July 11, 2020
However, with fellow DP Jonathon Dos Santos missing the tournament following hernia surgery, much will expected of Chicharito in Orlando. A first MLS goal would be a nice start, having been held off the scoresheet in the team’s first two games – the aforementioned 1-1 draw with Houston Dynamo and then a disappointing 1-0 loss against the Vancouver Whitecaps in the team’s home opener.
But playing alongside the likes of Argentina’s Cristian Pavon, that breakthrough goal shouldn’t be too far away.
Taking three points from six to open the 2020 season – albeit four months ago – Portland continued to show spotty form at Providence Park, and has just two wins in its last seven home games. Luckily, playing at home is an afterthought throughout the MLS is Back tournament, and there are no crazed fans to get any club revved up.
But that was a year ago, and with a slightly different cast of characters this time around, as well as a totally unique setting and circumstances, it remains to be seen how this year’s first meeting between the sides turns out.
Pick: Draw (+265)