Holding their own inside the all-important top seven in the Eastern Conference, CF Montreal and on-the-road Charlotte FC go head-to-head on Saturday at Saputo Stadium, where the hosts were beaten last time out (7.30pm ET).
After a couple of poor results on the spin, losing to both Nashville on the road and Real Salt Lake away from home, Montreal turned things around. They firstly beat Forge in the Canadian Championship, scoring three goals on their way to a convincing win, before showing all manner of spirit and determination to come out on top of a seven-goal thriller at Saputo Stadium, where they beat Cincinnati by four goals to three. Unfortunately, such wins couldn’t act as a springboard for further success, as the Canadians were downed by Austin FC on home soil last time out, losing by a goal to nil.
Like the hosts, Saturday’s visitors also went through a spell of turmoil recently, losing to the New York Red Bulls, before tasting defeat on the road at Seattle, though they’ve since bounced back. The Major League Soccer newbies gained swift revenge over the Red Bulls for that US Open Cup defeat, winning by two goals to nil in league action. Charlotte were far from disgraced when drawing away against the Columbus Crew last time out. Such results should mean that the side currently occupying seventh place in the east should approach this fixture full of confidence.
Mixed record at home
The hosts have been slightly up and down at home this season, picking up four pleasing wins, but losing each of their other three. On the one hand, they’ve looked strong offensively, scoring goals with regularity, notching a total of 14 in seven, which makes them the third-best team in the Eastern Conference in terms of goals scored at home.
On the other hand, they’ve offered little defensive resistance, conceding in seven out of seven, shipping 11 goals. It’s not as if they are one of those teams that give up chance after chance. In fact, in terms of expected goals against, conceding a very respectable average of 0.9 xG, Montreal are the second-best in the division. Unfortunately, when push comes to shove, they can’t seem to keep the ball out of the net, which is a worry.
First things first. The start made to Charlotte’s debut season in MLS has been a very reasonable one. They’re in the playoffs and continue to fight hard for every point, so much so that it wouldn’t be the greatest surprise if they sustained their challenge for the top seven right through until the fall.
However, the newcomers are still searching for their first away win at this level, despite having had eight bites of the cherry. Six losses and two ties doesn’t exactly make for great reading, though it seems as though they are getting closer after tying with the Seattle Sounders in their most recent trip away from the comforts of Bank of America Stadium. Saturday’s visitors have either tied or lost by just a single goal in each of their last five on the road, so they are hardly easy to get the better of.
This will be the second meeting between this pair since the start of the current campaign. When they first went head-to-head in North Carolina, it was the team from Canada that emerged victorious, winning by two goals to nil. That victory was anything but straightforward: An edge in terms of end-product and final-third quality meant that they probably just about deserved to take all three points.
CFMTL vs CLTFC: Where’s the bet?
From a betting point, it wouldn’t be too difficult to side with the visitors. They have certainly made themselves hard to beat, so much so that they will pick up that elusive win probably sooner rather than later. However, on this occasion, for a few reasons, the home win is hard to avoid. For starters, Charlotte’s lack of goals on the road is a serious worry. They have scored only five goals in eight away fixtures, failing to score more than once. They also rank poorly in terms of expected goals, which points towards a lack of creativity, averaging just 0.78 expected goals per 90 minutes away from home. In contrast, the hosts produce a solid average of 1.68 expected goals.
What’s more, the hosts have a 100% home record against any team sitting lower than the top three in either conference. They have won four out of four against such opposition, scoring 12 goals in the process, producing xG numbers of 1.2, 1.6, 3.0 and 2.7. Such stats are hard to ignore, especially given Charlotte’s lack of both creativity and offensive power on their travels.
Quioto can do it
For those bettors looking to go down the player prop route, take a chance of Romell Quioto, who has scored five goals for Montreal this term. The Honduran forward didn’t find the net last time out, but scored twice in his previous home game, as well as when on international duty recently.
Moreover, each of his last three MLS goals have come at Saputo Stadium, and with an average of 0.60 expected goals per 90 minutes, not to mention 2.56 shots, there should be more to come from one of the hosts key players.
So these are the betting picks and predictions for our CFMTL vs CLTFC preview: