Los Angeles FC vs Real Salt Lake Picks, Preview, Predictions: LA On The Spread

Damir KreilachToday’s sole Major League Soccer fixture is a Western Conference clash between Los Angeles FC and Real Salt Lake (Sunday 10.30pm ET). After finally regaining the winning thread, the hosts will be looking to collect another three points, while the visitors go in search of back-to-back wins too, though getting a result at Banc of California Stadium will be anything but easy.

When they beat Real Salt Lake back in July, LAFC, by winning three on the bounce, appeared to be swiftly moving in the right direction, so it’s hard to believe that their next victory after that win came just one week ago.

Try as they might, for the best part of two months, LAFC couldn’t buy a win, going a remarkable eight games without tasting victory, five of which they lost. Fortunately, Bob Bradley’s men made a timely return to form last time out, beating high-flyers Sporting KC by four to goals to nil in front of a home crowd.

Their winless run went on for nowhere near as long as that of LAFC, but Real Salt Lake also made a return to winning ways last time out having lost two on the bounce. The visitors have now won three of their last five and remain in a positive position inside the all-important play-off spots. Offensively, with the likes of Albert Rusnak and Damir Kreilach in the forward areas, they continue to show their quality, and have now gone six matches without failing to score, but at the back things could certainly be tighter. Just one clean sheet in seven isn’t great.

Dangerous at home

Even during their winless spell, the LAFC boys remained very threatening, especially at home, where they have scored 23 goals in 12 matches. In terms of goals scored, LAFC has the best attacking record in the Western Conference, while they’re also the top dogs when it comes to expected goals for at home, averaging a seriously strong 2.23 per 90 minutes.

This shows us that the hosts have little problem creating openings in their own backyard, while with the likes of Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi in attack, they’re never going to struggle putting the ball in the net.

Away-day woes

Real Salt Lake’s recent away form makes for rather disappointing reading. Today’s visitors have lost each of their last four away from the comforts of home and have done so thanks to a lack of defensive stability. RSL has surrendered ten goals in their last four on the road, while they have kept only two away clean sheets all campaign, conceding at least twice in six out of ten. The visitors haven’t exactly shaped well in terms of xG either, conceding a pretty poor average of 1.91 expected goals per game, which shows us that they have certainly not been unfortunate to concede a total of 17 goals in ten road games. Such defensive numbers don’t exactly bode well ahead of a match against one of the meanest attacks in all of Major League Soccer.

LAFC looking to maintain 100% record

This will not be the first meeting between the pair this season, nor will it be the second. Back in early July, LAFC beat RSL by a goal to nil away from home, while they backed up that result by winning 2-1 at this venue just a few weeks later. The visitors will be hoping it’s a case of third time lucky, but if we dig a little deeper into those games, it’s easy to feel that more of the same is on the way.

In Salt Lake, to be fair to the visitors, it was a tight game, a game that could’ve gone either way, but when they visited Banc of California Stadium shortly after, they really were outclassed, and to a much larger degree than the result suggests. The last time the pair met, LA dominated throughout, producing 3.9 expected goals to RSL’s 0.6. Moreover, the hosts recorded no fewer than 28 shots as they brushed aside their opponents, who mustered a measly three shooting efforts.

Hosts to get it done

Having got themselves back on the up with a big win last time out, scoring four goals against a top side, the hosts have the perfect opportunity to kick on. Bettors can profit by siding with LAFC to record a relatively comfortable win.

You could argue that in two matches against Salt Lake this season, Bradley’s men are yet to win by more than a single goal, but as is evident above, they really ought to have won by two or three when they completely outclassed these opponents at this venue in July, and after thrashing a very strong SKC outfit last time, the rejuvenated home side can record a big win.

After all there’s a 1.62 difference (in the hosts favor) between LAFC’s average expected goal difference at home and Real Salt Lake’s xG difference on the road, which really ought not to be ignored. Something else that shouldn’t be ignored is that LAFC came out on top by +3.3 in terms of xG in the last meeting between the pair here. Such figures are enough to warrant a bet on the hosts to win, despite giving up a goal head-start on the handicap.

So, coming to our betting predictions for this MLS game preview, this is the pick:

  • LAFC to win -1 goal on the spread @ -108 with Bovada.