Week 1 of the 2016 MLS regular season is under wraps, and what an eventful one it was. Half the weekend's games featured at least four goals, and if you were wise enough to take Portland and Sporting Kansas City, you cleaned up. Congratulations on having more guts than me, as I chickened out on the SKC bet when it was time to put my money where my mouth was.
Now, for the usual intro.
For the uninitiated, odds are generally presented in three forms -- a "spread," a "moneyline," and a "total."
The spread is the goal difference expected. For example, if the spread for Orlando City is +1.5, you'll want them to win, draw, or lose by one goal to win the wager. Losing by two or more goals would result in losing the wager.
The moneyline is my personal favorite, and the only odds we'll use for soccer. I'm not a fan of spreads with this sport, as the margin for error is very small. A moneyline is simple -- odds are presented, and you select the outcome you expect -- Team A win, Team B win, or Draw.
The total is the total number of goals scored this game. This can be tough to predict in soccer, and is generally something I recommend staying away from -- though it can be a useful moneymaker for both hockey and basketball.
Odds are presented with a number preceded by either a + or a -. When the number is presented after a +, this means that selection is an underdog. The number following the + is the amount of money the odds pay out for every $100 risked. When the number is presented as a -, this means that selection is a favorite. The number following the - is the amount of money you will need to risk for odds to pay out $100.
To improve your odds, you can always play what's called a "parlay." A favorite of mine, with this option you can select winners across multiple games, and watch your payouts soar. The risk, however, is if you miss any one contest on your parlay, you've lost the entire bet.
(Note: These odds were pulled from BetDSI, and may not reflect lines posted by your sportsbook of choice.)
Trying to find easy money is almost like trying to find a game where you can guarantee who will lose. This brings us to the Philadelphia Union (+500) heading to the flyover states to visit the Columbus Crew (-175), as the Union look to rebound from their 0-2 defeat on opening weekend.
Philadelphia, who was even a bigger underdog last week (+600), is getting no love from oddsmakers. It is not hard to see why. Their roster leaves much to be desired, though I will continue to believe C.J. Sapong is one helluva talent.
Columbus comes in having been bested by defending champion Portland in a rematch of the 2015 MLS Cup Final. It has been a while since they've tasted victory in MLS competition -- that drought ends, emphatically, this weekend. The Pick: Columbus Crew
Don't forget those money makers over at Sporting Kansas City (-106), who play host to the Vancouver Whitecaps (+310), and are looking to build off their road win over Seattle last weekend. SKC should be able to avoid the emotional letdown against a Vancouver team that allowed Montreal to be the largest underdog to win in the opener. The Pick: Sporting Kansas City
Ah, the subsection that made some of you rich by predicting Kansas City would topple the Sounders last week. I know what you're thinking. "Wade, I wasn't one of those people who listened to you. I'm sorry. Please, forgive me. I will not make that mistake again. What underdog do you have for us this week?"
I know. Dramatic stuff.
We absolutely need to talk about Real Salt Lake (+123) hosting the Seattle Sounders (+238). While it's true Brad Evans won't be suiting up for Sigi Schmid, the Sounders will be eager to rid themselves of the stench that an 0-1 season opener will bring, which is a good thing for us when they're more than 2-to-1 underdogs.
It would appear the weak spot in Seattle's defense plays right into Real's hands -- especially with their new toys up front -- but on the flip side, I'm not sure Real can stand up to the talent the Sounders will be bringing on the pitch.
We saw firsthand the impact Yura Movsisyan will have on this team as the entirety of the RSL attack looked much improved. While they are certainly a better club following last season's disappointment, Seattle is simply more talented -- and playing with a chip on their shoulder, to boot. The Pick: Seattle Sounders
The San Jose Earthquakes (+143) will be welcoming defending champion Portland Timbers (+197) to cap off the week's slate in what will be an interesting match. There are some out there that are terrified to touch Portland in March -- after all, last weekend marked their first victory during the month in the history of Caleb Porter's tenure -- and may opt for the draw (+238) in light of that. Portland's speed on the wing and stifling defense are out of San Jose's league, however, and I do not expect the Quakes to be able to keep pace. The Pick: Portland Timbers
Seattle and Columbus are no-brainers for me this week. It's Thursday as I write this, and I've already parlayed them myself along with the Timbers for a beautifully comfortable three-team bet slip. I also recommend taking New York City FC (+143) over Toronto FC (+175), New York Red Bulls (+185) over hosts Montreal Impact (+150), the LA Galaxy (+126) over hosts Colorado Rapids (+126), and your Orlando City Lions (+105) over the Chicago Fire.
Don't forget to check out Sportility's Parlay Calculator to find the perfect combination of picks you need to maximize your winnings before placing your wagers.
Easy Money -- 2-1
Feeling Lucky -- 1-1
My Play -- 3-2