Atlanta United vs. Columbus Crew SC Best Bets
Atlanta United (7-10-8, 29 points, 13th place Eastern Conference) vs. Columbus Crew SC (8-6-10, 34 points, 5th place Eastern Conference)
When: Sunday, August 21, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Lower.com Field, Columbus, Ohio
Point Spread: Atlanta +0.5/Columbus -0.5
Moneyline: Atlanta +270/Columbus -120/Draw +290
Total: Over 2.5 (-140)/Under 2.5 (+100)
Last Time Out:
Atlanta lost 2-1 to New York Red Bulls; Columbus drew 1-1 with Colorado.
Columbus defeated Atlanta 2-1 on May 28 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
About the Matchup:
The Eastern Conference remains a logjam with ten matches or less left in the season, as a mere five points separate fifth place from 13th and near the bottom of the table. Only D.C. United appears to be out of the race entirely, and only Philadelphia, Montreal, and the New York clubs seem above the fray at this point.
For Columbus, the key to success has been as simple as taking something from every match. Since falling to Los Angeles FC on May 21, Columbus has played 12 matches and only lost one of them, going 5-1-6 and picking up 21 points in the process. The lone exception was a 2-1 loss at home to Montreal, and even that should have been a result: the Crew had a 1-0 lead in the 88th minute before an inexplicable collapse cost them the points.
Atlanta has one massive problem: consistency. The Five Stripes have not won consecutive matches all season long, and only twice have they had a streak of getting a result in three consecutive matches. At the same time, the inconsistencies have meant they haven’t lost too many in a row; they haven’t dropped more than two straight matches. United ended a three-match unbeaten streak last time out against the Red Bulls, and the defense is really letting them down at the moment. Over Atlanta’s past ten matches, only offensively-challenged Chicago failed to put the ball in the net — and the Five Stripes didn’t even win that one, leaving with a scoreless draw.
Consistency isn’t the only thing that plagues Atlanta in 2022. The Five Stripes have been terrible travelers, beating hapless D.C. United on the road in April and failing to win another game away from home since. At ten straight matches away without a win (0-6-4), Atlanta owns the longest winless road streak in MLS.
And the reason is simple: the defense can’t stop most opponents. It’s hard to win when you’re giving up two goals each time out, and Atlanta’s done that consistently on the road. During the skid, only Charlotte (1-0 Charlotte win) and Chicago (0-0 draw) hosted Atlanta and didn’t score exactly two goals against the Five Stripes. Cincinnati, New York City, and Nashville broke down often enough for Atlanta to escape with a draw, but the other five were all defeats. Ronaldo Cisneros and Josef Martinez are reliable starters, but when they have to always find three goals to win, it’s not going to work.
Remember what I just said about Atlanta giving up two goals on the road? Yeah, that’s a real problem here because if you give Columbus two goals, the Crew aren’t losing. Columbus has just six losses on the season, and the Crew were shut out in five of them. If Columbus scores, it almost always picks up a point. It would help if Lucas Zelarayan had a consistent Robin to his Batman, and Cucho Hernandez is starting to fill that role that Gyasi Zardes once played.
Since Cucho joined the Crew in a road win at Chicago on July 9, the Crew have looked almost exclusively to him and Zelarayan to provide the offense. Over their past six matches, Columbus has nine goals, all of which have been scored by either Zelarayan or Cucho. You have to go back to the 75th minute of Cucho’s debut game against Chicago (13 minutes after he came on the pitch) to find a Columbus goal from anyone else (Derrick Etienne).
The Crew is obviously much more dangerous now with Cucho and Zelarayan paired together, but they can’t become a two-man show. It’s possible to win that way in MLS (Columbus certainly did it with Zardes and Zelarayan forming the Z-Train), but there’s going to come a match where one or both of them have an off day, and if it comes at the wrong time, someone will have to step up.
Dan’s Best Bets:
With Atlanta having a lot of problems on the road, I have to give the edge to Columbus here. However, I’m not willing to settle for something as simple as the moneyline, given the major trend of Atlanta’s road matches. In ten road matches, the Five Stripes have hit the net in seven of them, which makes Columbus and both teams to score a fantastic value play at +250.
There’s another major trend between these teams: five straight matches have been decided by exactly one goal. You can play either team to win by one goal at +140 or take Columbus by exactly one at +270.
Finally, Columbus doesn’t like to stand around. In three straight matches, someone has hit the mesh in the first 15 minutes. You’ll get +175 for a goal in the first stretch of the match.
Dan’s Score Prediction:
Given the trends with both of these teams, it seems like everything is pointing to one result in this one. Columbus won by this score in Atlanta, and I think they do it again here. I’ll take the Crew to win 2-1 at +725. Bet your Atlanta/Columbus prediction and ALL your sports bets for FREE this week by taking advantage of a 100% real cash bonus up to $500 when you use bonus code PREDICTEM at Betnow Sportsbook!