Following a promising start to the campaign, the New York Red Bulls will look to make it three wins from three when they host Minnesota United FC on Sunday (7pm ET; TV: Live on MSG). The visitors will be hoping to extend their unbeaten start, though Red Bull Arena is not an easy place to go, that’s for sure.
This preview will give the lowdown on this MLS game before venturing some betting picks as the conclusion to our predictions.
Positive starts for both
The Red Bulls began the season with an excellent win on the road, beating the San Jose Earthquakes by three goals to one, and they showed no signs of being off the pace after the off-season, scoring three goals en route to victory. Gerhard Struber’s men shifted through the gears last time out too, this time scoring for goals on their way to picking up a second three points of the campaign. New signing Lewis Morgan repaid the faith shown in him by the Red Bulls hierarchy, scoring a first-half hat-trick, as RBNY made light work of brushing aside Toronto FC.
Meanwhile, the start made by Minnesota United has been more low-key. First time out, the Loons held the Philadelphia Union on the road, a result that was far from displeasing, while they continued to lay solid foundations on match-day two, tying 1-1 with Nashville, who as the Seattle Sounders found out a few weeks ago, are not at all easy to take on. Though less eye-catching offensively than Sunday’s hosts, the visitors, after holding two strong sides, will probably fancy themselves to get something from this fixture.
It is early days, but so far, the New York Red Bulls, according to expected goals, are the most creative team in the whole of Major League Soccer. They have produced 4.8 xG in two matches. Only two other teams, across both conferences, have produced 4.0+. The Red Bulls also have the best expected goal difference at this early stage, averaging +1.58 per fixture. They are also the second-best in MLS for goal difference, averaging +2.5. It is important to stress that it is early doors, but so far, the efforts of Struber’s men are tough to criticize.
This will be the fourth time that Minnesota have face the New York Red Bulls in Major League Soccer, and they go to Red Bull Arena having come out on top when the pair last met.
Back in 2019, the Loons returned from a trip to the New Jersey venue with all three points, courtesy of a 1-2 victory. The Red Bulls had won each of the previous meetings between the two, winning by three goals to nil both in front of their own fans and at Allianz Field. So there is yet to be an MLS fixture between this pair that contains less than three goals.
RBNY vs MNUFC: Where’s the bet?
From a betting point of view, this is a tricky one. It would be easy to fancy the hosts following their emphatic wins against both the Earthquakes and Toronto FC, but the visitors have already proven to be a tough nut to crack, so we probably shouldn’t be expecting to see an easy home win.
In the betting lines with the offshore USA bookmakers, given their opening efforts, the Red Bulls are red-hot moneyline favorites at odds of -165, which seems on the short side. Yes, they have impressed during the early weeks, and they have certainly proven their attacking credentials, but we shouldn’t overlook the fact that they conceded against both San Jose and TFC. We can also factor in that MNUFC are not easy to beat, as both Nashville and Philadelphia can attest. They are two teams who finished inside the top three in the Eastern Conference last season. It’s not overly difficult to conclude that the visitors have a slightly better chance of getting something from this fixture than the early odds suggest.
At +126, Minnesota +1 handicap (draw would be a loser, see final verdict below) stands out as a viable option. The Minnesota mob are yet to come out top, and they have certainly not looked tremendously powerful in an attacking sense, but they have shown lots of grit and plenty of sturdiness over the opening weeks, and it is not as if they’ve been up against weak opposition.
Both the Union and Nashville SC finished the regular season higher up the eastern table than the Red Bulls last term, so the fact that the Loons came out of those two matches with positive expected goal differences of +0.1 and +0.3 is not to be ignored. After going somewhere like Subaru Park and returning with a point, Adrian Heath’s men are fancied to take at least a point back from Red Bull Arena, despite the hosts fast start to the new season.
Franco to fire in
Visiting forward Franco Fragapane is yet to score this term, but his efforts against both Philadelphia and Nashville were encouraging. After two matches, the Argentine is averaging a very positive 2.95 shots per 90 minutes, as well as 0.21 xG, making him Minnesota biggest threat so far in terms of individual expected goals. Such numbers point towards the lively forward having a slightly greater chance of netting his first goal of the season than attractive odds of +475 suggest.
Here is our RBNY vs MNUFC predictions and betting picks verdict for this preview:
- Minnesota +1 goal on the handicap @ +126 with EveryGame. With this market with his particular bookie, you would lose in the event of a draw. Otherwise the spread can be had at +1 goal with Bovada @ -128 and in this case the draw would be ‘no bet’.
- Franco Fragapane to score at any time @ +475 with EveryGame (+450 with Bovada).