• Accuscore’s MLS 2020 Preview

    MLS 2020

    The historical 25th season of Major League Soccer kicks off this weekend with record setting 26 teams involved. Newcomers Inter Miami and Nashville challenge the likes of Los Angeles FC and Toronto for the title, with both conferences boasting 13 teams. While there is still 34 games in the regular season, 17 home and 17 away, the teams face only 10 of 13 of their inter-conference opponents and play twice their intra-conference foes.

    Last season saw Los Angeles FC to hoist the Supporters Shield as the regular season champions with 72 points and remarkably only four losses all season, only to lose to the eventual champions Seattle Sounders in the semi-final stage. Winning the title also in 2016, Seattle took the second place in the Western Conference in the regular season and narrowly beat Dallas in the first playoff-round before ousting Real Salt Lake and LAFC en route to the final against their Eastern Conference counterpart Toronto. MLS Cup 2017 winners Toronto took the fourth place in the Eastern Conference during regular season, behind New York City, Atlanta United and Philadelphia Union, but went through DC United with ease in the first playoff stage and knocked out the favorites NYC and Atlanta before the eventual 1-3 defeat by Seattle in the final.

    Accuscore’s simulations allow us to take a peek in the future and see how the MLS 2020 regular season is likely to finish, with the current knowledge at hand. While the playoffs are a different world completely – and it’s a long way to October – predictions on the MLS Cup most probable winners can be made based on the simulations as well. Here is how the regular season seems at the ending point, October 4th 2020.

    Accuscore's MLS 2020 Western Conference


    In the West, LAFC is still the top dog challenged by Minnesota and Seattle. Compared to title winning odds, Accuscore’s simulations predict both Dallas and Colorado Rapids to make the playoffs, while Real Salt Lake and Portland Timbers fall out of the contest after the regular season. Dallas was 7th last season and Colorado missed out on playoffs being 9th. Real Salt Lake’s fall can be seen as a surprise, as they were 3rd last season   Otherwise the playoff-teams match the odds with only small positional changes in the top five.

    Accuscore's MLS 2020 Eastern Conference


    Similar to the West, in the Eastern Conference the top remains the same in Accuscore’s simulations as it is based on championship winning odds. New York City takes the spoils once again, but the real surprise teams are Columbus Crew and Philadelphia Union. Columbus disappointed last season by falling out of the playoffs, but they are remarkably stronger this time around. Their rise in simulations vs odds is five spots, while Philadelphia – 3rd last season – takes a playoff-berth as well. Failing to make the playoffs against the odds are New York Red Bulls and New England, 6th and 7th last season.


    Accuscore’s analysis

    In the Western Conference there’s one team above all others and that’s Los Angeles FC. They failed to win the Cup last year after dominating in the regular season, so they definitely have a chip on their shoulder this time around. The team still features some of the best players in the league, such as Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi and is well balanced overall. Their only goal is the Cup this season.

    Minnesota and Seattle provide some challenge to LAFC on top of the Western Conference, but there are many question marks. For Minnesota it is the offense and for Seattle the defense, with plenty of changes compared to last season. Seattle showed last season that they are a team made for playoffs. The surprise inclusion of Colorado Rapids in the playoffs might have risen some eyebrows, but they are a young and talented team with key acquisitions and already looked good most of the time last season. They are certainly an underdog, but worth a watch.

    In the East, New York City and Atlanta United dominate the simulations, with Toronto throwing in a punch here and there. No surprises there as the trio was in top four last season and not too much has changed. The surprise dark horse comes from Columbus. Missing out on playoffs last season caused a stir and they splashed the cash in landing a club record signing Lucas Zelarayan to man the 10-spot and to feed Gyasi Zardes up front. While Columbus might not be as star-studded as the top clubs, we are expecting them to make a push and even challenge for the title. Philadelphia is the other surprise in the simulations, but they improved heavily last season, finishing 3rd, and will build on that with their young squad.

  • MLS Friday: Orlando City vs Real Salt Lake

    Written by Rohit Ghosh
    Follow @rohitghosh on Twitter

    MLS Analyst Preview: Orlando City vs Real Salt Lake

    Friday night features some MLS action on ESPN as an out-of-form Orlando City SC heads west against a struggling Real Salt Lake (RSL) squad.

    Losers of four of their last five matches, RSL will look to get back on track in the West standings - currently in the No. 10 slot with 17 points. The recent struggles were all on the road, though, and the home crowd should help turn things around.


    Vegas Odds vs AccuScore Simulation Data

    Vegas odds have RSL as slight home favorites to get the win, listed at -125 on the money line at the time of publication. That indicates about a 54.4 percent chance of winning.

    AccuScore data has that probability much lower, just under 43 percent. AccuScore sim data would have listed RSL at about +130 on the money line.

    Taking a look at the standings, there's some value in the UNDER and the draw in this matchup. With Orlando City having scored just two goals in their last five road matches, recent play indicates a pick on the UNDER.

    AccuScore sim data, however, doesn't provide much value on either side of the total.

    Make sure to check out the full simulation to get insight on side value picks and potential in a draw in this matchup.

    See All of AccuScore'sMLS Picks

    Analyst's Last Word

    Despite the difference in the money line winning probabilities between odds and sim data, a pick on the home side is attractive. RSL isn't having a great season, but they have been solid at home - winning three in a row there. They're a shade over EVEN odds and it's fairly attractive.

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  • Toronto FC vs NE Revolution - Analyst Preview

    Written by Rohit Ghosh
    Follow @rohitghosh on Twitter

    MLS Friday: Toronto FC vs New England Revolution

    With less than two days of rest between games, Toronto FC heads into Friday's match with New England Revolution at BMO Field following a 1-1 draw with the Montreal Impact on Wednesday night.

    As Toronto FC manager Greg Vanney said following Wednesday's game, things should be more than manageable as long as the team takes it "one game at a time."

    Toronto (9-5-2) sits atop the standings as they host a 14th ranked New England (5-5-6) team.

    Toronto FC is slightly favored on the money line, listed at about -145 at the time of publication. New England is getting anywhere from +365 to +425 on the money line, depending on when and where you see the line, with the draw hovering around +300.

    Want more? See All of AccuScore'sMLS Picks


    Vegas Odds, AccuScore Simulations, Analyst Picks

    We're usually interested when Vegas odds and AccuScore sim data are on different sides of a favorite. This isn't one of those situations, but rather one where AccuScore sims agree with and solidify a pick on the home favorite.

    The money line pick on Toronto is a four-star (out of four) AccuScore hot trend. The value, however, seems to be on the total, with sim data suggesting a pick on the OVER.

    Both sides have proven this season they can score, with about 56 percent of Toronto FC matches going over 2.5, and 69 percent of New England matches going over 2.5.

    The OVER is a three-star (out of four) AccuScore hot trend.

    What to Watch For

    Must Win Situation - Watch for New England to play with a sense of desperation - especially in the first half. They need a win if they want to keep their postseason hopes alive. Given the disparity in talent between these two sides, that hope should fairly quickly fade. Toronto, on the other hand, is firing on all cylinders this season following their loss in the finals last year. It's an inter-conference matchup, so expect fans to not only match the players' intensity, but also potentially exceed it.

    Getting Revenge - Toronto had just one of its two losses earlier in June on the road vs New England, falling 0-3 to a team they're much better than. Defender Eriq Zavaleta did mention this week that he and his teammates remember New England showing a "lack of class" in the final stages of that last matchup. “Because of that, it gave us an extra little chip that, in my opinion, you don’t want to give a team like us.”

    The Return - He won't start, but keep an eye on Toronto FC forward Tosaint Ricketts to return from his hamstring injury sometime Friday evening. He's expected to play some minutes, and should offer his squad an added weapon as they prepare to make another push for the title. The 29-year-old Canadian native -- in 12 appearances this season -- has three goals, including two game-winners.

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