MLS is Back: Betting Preview for Crew-Red Bulls, TFC-Montreal

Thursday night's MLS is Back doubleheader gives us one of the most intriguing sets of matchups we will see in the group stage.

Toronto FC and Montreal Impact are up first in a rivalry contest in Group C and then the two victors from Matchday 1 In Group E, Columbus and New York Red Bulls, finish up the slate.

The night kickoffs have produced some wild scorelines, including the 4-3 thriller won by the San Jose Earthquakes Wednesday night.

Seven of the last eight games have produced at least three goals, with the lone exception being the Thursday morning snoozer between Atlanta United and FC Cincinnati.

With the trend going in favor of more goals, all four teams in better fitness from playing 90 minutes and higher stakes on the line in group, we should be in for a pair of entertaining clashes.

As always, our odds come from DraftKings Sportsbook.

Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact (8 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN)

Odds: Toronto FC (-103); Montreal (+240); Draw (+275)

Toronto is the better side in this matchup, and it showed its quality for 80 minutes against D.C. United before falling apart.

Part of the collapse had to do with Greg Vanney removing both of his center backs with a two-goal lead and 30 minutes to go.

The Reds should overpower Montreal with their midfield players. Michael Bradley looked refreshed after a few months off and Alejandro Pozuelo and Pablo Piatti could wreak havoc on the Impact's back four.

Toronto has had the upper hand in the rivalry with wins in three of the last four head-to-head meetings, and even though Jozy Altidore's presence up top is up in the air, it has Ayo Akinola to finish off chances in the box.

Thierry Henry is expected to make improvements to the Impact's approach after losing to New England, but it is still hard to trust the inconsistent Maxi Urruti in comparison to what Toronto has at forward.

Best Bet: Toronto FC (-103)

Columbus Crew vs. New York Red Bulls (10:30 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN)

Odds: Columbus (-132); Red Bulls (+188); Draw (+250)

After Atlanta's shortcomings this morning, Thursday's late-night match could determine the Group E winner.

Columbus is riding high after a four-goal outburst against FC Cincinnati, while the Red Bulls enter in a similar mindset through their 1-0 victory over Atlanta.

The safest bet here is to pick Gyasi Zardes to score. He has been nothing but consistent for the Crew and has plenty of providers behind him to set up easy finishes in front of the net.

Figuring out where the Red Bulls goals will come from is a bit harder with Tom Barlow up top. Daniel Royer, Kaku and Florian Valot are a formidable trio in midfield, but they combined for two shots on goal versus Atlanta.

If you want a long shot bet here, keep an eye on Aaron Long to score. The Red Bulls may be most dangerous on set pieces through Long and Amro Tarek, or Tim Parker if he starts over Tarek.

Best Bet: Gyasi Zardes to score (+118)

Photo courtesy of Major League Soccer.

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