Teams across Major League Soccer will be back in action today. At TQL Stadium, Eastern Conference leaders Cincinnati take on the New York Red Bulls, who are now starting to get a little desperate for points with the postseason looming (7.30pm ET Wednesday). Can the visitors get the better of a team that has already booked its place in the playoffs? Read on for our MLS game preview with picks and betting predictions.
Things continued to go very well for Pat Noonan’s men last time out, as a win over Toronto FC on the road saw them maintain their advantage at the head of affairs in the east. That was their second win in quick succession and they have now done everything that they need to do to ensure that they are playing postseason soccer. Wednesday’s hosts may not want to take it easy though, as they are also unbeaten in four and are likely to be looking to remain unbeaten and build form ahead of the playoffs.
For the RBNY, the situation is very different. Troy Lesesne’s men are now struggling. They come here off the back of a disappointing defeat at home to the Chicago Fire last time, losing without finding the net, which means that they are now three points shy of the all important playoff places. Thankfully, such a gap can be closed quickly, and there’s still time, but they cannot afford to go on a winless run, as they often have this term.
Goals galore for hosts Cincinnati
We’ve seen some fantastic soccer played by Pat Noonan’s team this season. With players such as Brandon Vazquez, Alvaro Barreal, Dominique Badji and of course, the current MLS top scorer Luciano Acosta, who has chipped in with 25 direct goal contributions, they have really impressed. Cincinnati have done so by getting on the front foot, hurting their opposition.
Wednesday’s hosts have scored bundles of goals, especially at home, where they have notched a very healthy average of 2.00 goals per game. Such goal-scoring power has allowed them to win 13 out of 15 home games, which really is incredible. Coming into this fixture, not only did they score three goals on the road in Toronto last time out, but they have scored two or more in five of their last six league games at home, scoring a total of 14 goals. Such stats should have the visitors very worried.
Lack of away goals for NYRB a worry
A quick look at their recent form tells us that the NY Red Bulls scored five goals in their most recent away game, which is pretty impressive. That tells us that they have got some firepower, or does it? To be honest, scoring a bucket load against D.C. isn’t overly impressive, as plenty of teams have done that this season.
From an offensive point of view, barring that less than typical performance away against D.C. in their most recent away game, the Red Bulls have been very weak on their travels this season. They have scored just 12 goals in 15 road games, which is awful, and it is even worse when you consider that five of those were scored in one game. It means that prior to their recent away win, they had scored only seven goals in 14 road games, which is not good enough. Such a stat does not suggest that Lesesne’s men will go to TQL Stadium and make headway against the best team in the division.
Hosts Cincy on top in this fixture
For a while after Cincinnati entered Major League Soccer, the Red Bulls flexed their more experienced muscles in this fixture, winning each of the first three renewals in MLS. However, over the last few seasons, the balance has been tipped. Wednesday’s visitors are now without a win in five games against Cincinnati, two of which they have lost. When the pair met earlier in the current campaign, it was FC Cincinnati who came out on top, winning by two goals to one at Red Bull Arena. That was thanks to late goals from Obinna Nwobodo and likely MVP Luciano Acosta, who has been in flying form this season.
Home goals is the answer for bettors
If you’re looking to bet on this fixture, then why not throw a few dollars in the direction of ‘Cincinnati to Score Over 1.5 Goals’. Sure, they have done their bit in terms of securing a playoff place, but they still want to finish first, while they will absolutely want to continue building momentum ahead of the postseason.
After all, we are talking about a team that has scored for fun this season, scoring an average of 2.00 goals at home, as touched on in this preview above. They also scored twice when the teams met earlier in the campaign, while Wednesday’s visitors are not strangers to shipping a few goals on the road, having conceded three at D.C. last time out. They recently conceded two or more away against the likes of the Philadelphia Union, Real Salt Lake and the Columbus Crew.
The hosts really have been incredibly creative at home. Not only did they score three goals in their last home game, but they posted 3.30 xG, registering 20 shots too. Their expected goals for average in their last five games at home also stands at a very impressive 1.96. Moreover, only two teams in all of Major League Soccer boast a better expected-goals-for average.
Ultimately, the hosts have the tools to hurt this Red Bulls back line, and to be honest, given what has been seen from them throughout the season, early odds of -115 look a little generous and are well worth taking advantage of. So our Cincy vs RBNY betting predictions and picks for this MLS game preview, boil down to this one: