FC Cincinnati has been one of the largest fades in betting on Major League Soccer in its existence.
That has all changed for the Eastern Conference club during the start of the 2022 season.
FC Cincinnati looks more than competent in all parts of the field, it has a bonafide double-digit scorer in Brandon Vazquez, a top chance creator in Luciano Acosta and a defense that does not leak goals on a constant basis.
Manager Pat Noonan deserves a lot of credit for the turnaround and you can make a strong case that Cincinnati will be fighting for a playoff spot all season long.
In the past, when Cincinnati was a +295 underdog, you would stay far away from it.
However, Saturday's clash with the Chicago Fire brings about a different situation because the Fire are mired at the bottom of the Eastern Conference table, a spot all too familiar to FC Cincinnati.
Chicago got off to a solid defensive start, but its attacking pieces have not come together and it could turn into one of the top fades in MLS.
Sporting Kansas City already owns that dubious title because of the injuries suffered to its top-tier players. SKC played well on the road at New York City FC last week, but I think that is more of an outlier than the beginning of a trend.
MLS Week 11 Picks
FC Cincinnati (+295) at Chicago Fire (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)
FC Cincinnati's run to start the season is nothing short of impressive compared to where the club was in previous seasons.
FC Cincinnati has been consistent in the attacking third, where it has an expected goals total over one in each of its 11 games.
Pat Noonan's side is also playing well on the defensive side of the ball. It has two straight clean sheets in league play and it owns a 5-1 advantage in its last three contests.
FC Cincinnati's expected goals differential is much better at home, but that is the case for most MLS teams.
The fifth-placed side in the Eastern Conference picked up results in each of its last three road games. It earned a scoreless draw at Atlanta United and then beat Toronto FC and Minnesota United.
Chicago is dead last in the East in goals scored, it is third in goal differential and fifth in xG differential.
The Fire's defense has had some nice moments, but the attack has not matched that production.
Cincinnati is in better form and it has stronger numbers across the board compared to the Fire. That makes Cincy a live underdog on the road.
Sporting Kansas City at Portland Timbers (+100) (Saturday, 10 p.m. ET)
I might be unfairly fading Sporting Kansas City after it earned a point against New York City FC last week.
However, Sporting KC had crappy conditions going in its favor and NYCFC was playing at Citi Field, not Yankee Stadium, so it was an unusual home game for the reigning MLS Cup winner.
Sporting KC is 0-1-5 on the road with a -9 goal differential. At some point, SKC is going to get walloped on the road.
Portland needs a breakout game after a sluggish start and it could receive that at home on Saturday night.
Despite owning a 1-3-1 home record, Portland has a xGD of +1.8 inside Providence Park.
Saturday presents the Timbers with an opportunity to take advantage of their home numbers and kick their season into gear.