MLS is Back: Betting Preview for NYCFC-Union, Impact-Revolution

The Eastern Conference remains in the spotlight for the second day of the MLS is Back tournament.

The two-game slate split between morning and primetime features two very different types of matchups.

Thursday's opener between the Philadelphia Union and New York City FC pits a pair of potential contenders for first place against each other.

Montreal and New England finished in the middle of the East in 2019 and carry promise into 2020 after some notable roster changes.

If anything, the second matchup should give us an intriguing sideline battle between Revs boss Bruce Arena, who is one of the veteran managers of the league, and Thierry Henry, who took over Montreal in the offseason.

There is a stark contrast on the odds board with both favorites trending closer to even odds and the underdogs looking intriguing at over +200.

As more games occur, it is worth keeping an eye on trends that develop. On Wednesday, Orlando City and Inter Miami struggled to create chances in the first half, but came alive in the final 45.

The first game will also give us a glance into how players will respond to the 9 a.m. ET start time, which was put in place to avoid starting in the sweltering midday heat in central Florida.

As always, our odds come from DraftKings Sportsbook.

New York City FC vs. Philadelphia Union (9 a.m. ET, ESPN)

Odds: NYCFC (+112), Philadelphia (+205)

The odds have shifted significantly in NYCFC's favor since the matchup was set.

Philadelphia was a +140 favorite at open, but the Pigeons have seen money go in their favor, and I don't blame the public for buying down their price.

NYCFC won the Eastern Conference regular-season crown in 2019 and possesses a dynamic group of attackers led by Brazilian forward Heber.

After arriving from HNK Rijeka last season, Heber scored 15 times in 22 appearances and NYCFC won nine of the games in which he found the back of the net.

Midfield wizard Maxi Moralez will be the reason why Heber receives plenty of scoring chances. The Argentinian led MLS in assists in 2019 and produced two goals and a pair of assists in a June 29 win over the Union.

The Union have Kacper Przybylko up top, but their depth behind him is in question with Andrew Wooten and Sergio Santos both questionable with upper leg strains.

Look for Jamiro Monteiro and Brenden Aaronson to help with the chance creation for Przybylko, and both are candidates to score if more attention is paid to Przybylko, or free-kick situations arise.

NYCFC has the better top-end attacking depth, but the Union always have Ilsinho lurking as a game-changing sub.

With so many unknowns regarding form and the affect of the start time, this feels like a matchup to profit off props.

Best Bet: Heber to score (-115)

Montreal vs. New England (8 p.m. ET, TUDN)

Odds: Montreal (+245), New England (+102)

I'm obliged to mention New England is my tournament sleeper pick.

The Revs have one of the better attacking duos in Carles Gil and Gustavo Bou, an underrated goalkeeper in Matt Turner and a coach in Arena that has been through World Cup-style tournaments before.

Gil's ability to weave through the Montreal defense will be the biggest key for the Revs to cash in on their favorite status.

Montreal's biggest strength is its central midfielders, Samuel Piette and Victor Wanyama, and with no Ignacio Piatti there to drive the attack, the Impact may have to win ugly and capitalize on the chances when they come.

However, it may be difficult to trust the Impact with Maxi Urruti, one of the most hot-and-cold strikers in MLS, leading the line.

Urruti started 2020 strong with three goals, one of which came against the Revs, but that occurred after a four-goal 2019 campaign.

If Montreal dictates the pace, we could be in for a grind, but if New England gets on the front foot, it may jump out early and force the Impact out of their shell.

Best Bet: New England (+102)

Photo courtesy of Major League Soccer.

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