Colorado Rapids, who are looking to break into the top half of the MLS, host Los Angeles FC (3.30pm ET Saturday). These teams have different objectives, with the visitors looking to continue leading from the front. This preview analyzes the way the game will pan out before settling on some betting predictions and picks.
It looked for all to see that the team that finished the regular season on top of the Western Conference last season had turned a corner when they secured a pleasing win over the Portland Timbers not long ago, but they came crashing back down to earth last time out, losing on the road in San Jose. Such a defeat is symptomatic of the Rapids’ inconsistent start to the 2022 campaign. The recent form of Robin Fraser’s men reads: loss, win, tie.
LAFC were also left a little disappointed last time out, as they were held to a tie by the Philadelphia Union, though things would’ve been worse had Argentine Franco Escobar not leveled for the men in black with just eight minutes to go. Saturday’s visitors will also be buoyed by the fact that they come here off the back of going five games (in all competitions) without tasting defeat, four of which they have won.
Defiant at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
Colorado’s recent form isn’t great, but their overall form at home is hard to knock. Fraser’s men are yet to taste defeat when playing in front of a home crowd this term, winning three and tying two of their five games at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. At that venue, they’ve scored a reasonable eight goals, but it is not what they have done offensively that has been most impressive, no. Instead, it is the efforts of the Rapids in the defensive third that have really stood out. Only once has the goal guarded by William Yarbrough been breached at home.
Saturday’s hosts have performed well in terms of limiting what their opponents create, conceding an average of 0.86 expected goals. Fueling their defensive fire further is the fact that no team in the entirety of Major League Soccer had kept more clean sheets at home than the Colorado Rapids have this season.
There aren’t too many teams who go away from home in Major League Soccer on a consistent basis, puff their chests out and go toe-to-toe with anyone and everyone, but LAFC is one of those. Steve Cherundolo’s men have lost just once on the road this season, winning the other three.
No team has won more on lost fewer traveling games in the Western Conference, while Saturday’s visitors are the top road scorers too. They’ve notched nine in four, scoring two or more on three occasions. They are also very good at stopping teams from building up a head of steam, conceding the fewest number of expected goals away from home in the west, surrendering an average of 0.97 xG. Such numbers don’t exactly point towards a side that teams should enjoy welcoming into their homes.
Home is where the heart is in this fixture
Since LAFC entered Major League Soccer in 2018, these two have been pitted together on seven occasions. None of those seven fixtures have ended in a tie, while six have been won by the home team. LAFC won at this venue back in 2018, though they’ve not been able to repeat the feat, with each of the last five renewals being won by the hosts.
When the teams met at this venue last season, the Rapids won by five goals to two. Interestingly, four of the previous seven renewals have featured goals from just one team, with both teams scoring in just three out of seven.
Goals to stay away?
When LAFC are in town, the goals usually tend to flow, but is there reason to believe that this fixture could be more low scoring than the early odds suggest? In short, yes.
For starters, the Rapids have made a habit of keeping things tight at home. Not only have they kept a clean sheet in four out of five, but they’ve surrendered xG numbers of 0.8, 0.8, 0.7, 1.0 and 0.9, which tell us that they’re not giving much up. Sure, Robin Fraser’s men can hurt teams offensively, but they are far from the highest scorers around, with four of their five home games containing less than three match goals.
We know the offensive quality of the visitors, but they have on occasions failed to fire properly, like when scoring just once away at the Galaxy, while the fact that they too can prevent teams from creating much lends itself to a low-scoring fixture. As touched on in this preview above, the visitors surrender an average of 0.97 expected goals away from home, which tells us that they aren’t likely to go to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and given bundles away.
Everything above combined with the fact that based on how they have often played, the Rapids will probably be happy to sit back and keep things tight, especially to start with, makes both ‘Under 2.5 Goals’ and ‘Both Teams to Score – NO’ stand out in the betting. After all, both teams have scored in just one of the five MLS fixtures at this venue this season. So these are our betting predictions and picks: