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Best MLS Matchday Four Betting Picks for Saturday, March 9th

MLS Matchday Four Betting Picks, Which Highlights Real Salt Lake Midfielder, Matt Crooks

Major League Soccer returns to action with Matchday Four and Last Word on Soccer is here to provide the best MLS betting picks and analysis for Saturday, March 9th. Amidst heavy legs in the Concacaf Champions Cup (CCC). Games with CCC participants are often a road to easy profit. In my experience, those games end up being cagey affairs and not the greatest representation of a team’s abilities and style. The focus this week will be on teams who are regularly training, limiting the amount of games that could feature any sort of heavy legs due to match fatigue. With more games being played and more matches filtering into the eye, so too does the amount of stats readily available for use. With such small sample sizes, it’s important not to get too invested in the data and letting it paint a picture for us. Here, their use will be limited until deep into the season where one can easily point to data sets and trends. All data metrics were pulled from Football Reference and the American Soccer Analysis. Enough nerding out; on to the bets!

MLS Matchday Four Betting Picks for Tomorrow

Real Salt Lake vs Colorado Rapids

Earlier this week, Real Salt Lake announced the injury news of midfielder Pablo Ruiz. Ruiz, 25, is set to miss the rest of the season following a non-contact injury in training on Tuesday, March 5th. An MRI later that day revealed Ruiz had an isolated ACL tear in his left knee. One would think that, on paper, the absence of Ruiz would benefit a plucky Colorado Rapids team still looking for their first win of the season. An absence as key as Ruiz does affect the team on the field, but off the field it’s a big motivator. The club have already made arrangements for the Argentine to be recognized before the match. Ruiz had just recently returned to action following a meniscus tear in early August. There’s an added motivation for the Utah team to not only win but perform well for their club’s anchor. Historically, this has been a fixture that has been heavily one-sided; especially at home. In the fourteen years that America First Field has been operating, the Colorado Rapids have a record of one win, six draws, and 14 losses. This is not a place the Rapids walk into and come away alive.

Looking deeper into Real Salt Lake’s Goals Added (G+) stats, Ruiz was not playing his best through Salt Lake’s first two games, accumulating a Goals Added Rating of -0.18. Most of that was due to him playing out of his usual position further up the field as an advanced midfielder. Ruiz playing deep as a holding midfielder was among the best in MLS. Whatever lack of advanced statistical production they were getting from Ruiz, their new signing, Matt Crooks, makes up for. The 6’4” English midfielder is getting in the right areas of the field for Salt Lake, putting up an impressive 0.28 Passing G+ rating, ninth best in the league. If you can find a market for him to score or assist, you’ll pose a much higher chance of profit.

For more about the fixture, check out Rabbi and Red’s Holding the Highline podcast. They previewed the match in their latest episode.

MLS Betting Picks:

  • Real Salt Lake Moneyline (-143)
  • Matt Crooks Anytime Goalscorer (+225)

New York Red Bulls vs FC Dallas 

The Red Bulls under new coach, Sandro Schwarz, are playing some revitalized and fast-paced pressing footy. This upcoming encounter against FC Dallas will be the team’s first game at home and the home support will be excited to see their new star, Emil Forsberg who transferred to the club during the offseason. The Red Bulls have already done wonders for myself with a juiced +230 away win last week against the Houston Dynamo. They will be up against an FC Dallas side who are still figuring out what their style and look will be following injuries to important players like Geovane Jesus in defense and Alan Velasco in the attack. With Dallas leaving a lot to be desired with their personnel, the Red Bulls are trending the opposite way. They will be rebuffed by Lewis Morgan who’s looked solid coming back from injury and they are a clinical Dante Vanzeir season away from being real contenders in the Eastern Conference.

READ MORE: Manoel, Morgan Give Red Bulls Competent Win

Looking deeper into their Goals Added, Forsberg is the star of the show. The Swedish player has racked up an impressive 0.38 Goals Added through two games and ranks among the top 20 players in the league for that rating. I’m convinced this version of the Red Bulls is made possible thanks to Forsberg so I’ll be targeting his props as well. Taking them to win at home is a good bet but if you want to go with more risk you can parlay the Red Bulls to score two and win. If you can find a “To score OR to assist” line that should also prove fruitful.

MLS Betting Picks:

  • New York Red Bulls Moneyline (-140) 
  • Emil Forsberg Anytime Goal Scorer (+240)

Toronto FC vs Charlotte FC

READ MORE: Analysis: John Herdman Leaves the CanMNT for Toronto FC

Two of ten sides with new managers, Toronto FC and Charlotte FC have both benefited from a new coach bump. Both sides are unbeaten to start the year and considering their status last year as bottom table teams, it’s a great start for both. Toronto have found new life with Federico Bernardeschi playing as a wing-back as part of a 3-4-3 system. He hasn’t been as important to Toronto’s defensive structure, but in true wingback fashion, the Italian winger is productive in the attack. Through two games, the Canadian side has looked solid and their two road results against two top table sides from last year paint them in a very good light for their upcoming home opener. Charlotte, on the other hand, are playing a much more simplistic and direct style of play that has also helped them gain valuable results. It’s still not a pretty or good-looking amalgamation of everything Dean Smith would need to see out of his squads but the important thing to note is it’s a positive step for this season.

This game will ultimately be decided by Toronto’s other star Italian winger Lorenzo Insigne who scored a goal in Toronto’s last match out. Through Toronto’s first two games, the winger has amassed the team’s second-best G+ Dribbling rating and will be up against Nathan Byrne who isn’t the best of defenders and will be challenged on his side all game long. Another match-up that we will see is Toronto’s newest addition to their back line, Kevin Long, going up against Charlotte’s talisman Enzo Copetti. The Argentine striker has not had the best of shooting stats and he will be running right into the aforementioned Long who looked rather solid in Toronto’s 1-0 road win. The Toronto Moneyline looks quite appealing and I may end up taking that closer to game time. But, without leaning too heavily on either side, I imagine the goals will rain.

MLS Betting Picks:

  • Game Total Over 2.5 (-115) 

Regardless of the outcomes of the bets, another week of Major League Soccer just means more data, more games to analyze, and more ways of profiting becoming apparent. With the replacement referee debacle still ongoing, please do yourself a favor by halving whatever action you’ll have this week until a decision/conclusion is made. The replacement referees have had a negative impact on league games and it means a much more risk of losing your bets. Be advised and stay tuned to Last Word on Soccer for more betting insights into MLS.


Photo Credit: Christopher Creveling-USA TODAY Sports, of a Matt Crooks Headshot, on March 2, 2024.


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