Vancouver Whitecaps (+390) at FC Dallas (-145), Draw (+280)
As usual, the best game of the weekend in the MLS will pit two Western Conference teams against each other. The West leaders, FC Dallas (12-5-6, 41 pts), will host the sixth-place Vancouver Whitecaps (8-6-8, 30 pts) this Sunday at FC Dallas Stadium in what should be an exciting match between two playoff-caliber squads (6:00 PM Eastern).
FC Dallas not only leads the West, they’re the best team in the entire MLS midway through the year. They have earned 41 points in 23 games, leading the Colorado Rapids by three points in the West standings; they’re a full eight points up on the East leader, New York City.
Dallas comes into Sunday’s game earning 19 points of the last 24 available, only losing to the Seattle Sounders (5-0 away) and drawing against the Colorado Rapids (1-1 away) in their last eight outings.
Don’t be too concerned by the 5-0 rout at the hands of Seattle. Every team has off games, and that was an anomaly in Dallas’ fine season. It’s especially irrelevant when you’re evaluating Sunday’s match, since it came on the road. Dallas have yet to lose at home this season, winning eight of their 11 home games and posting the best goal differential in the league (23-7).
The Vancouver Whitecaps find themselves in the thick of the West playoff race with 30 points after 22 games. The fourth through seventh-place teams in the West are separated by only two points; Vancouver hasn’t managed to separate from that four-team pack lately, drawing three of their last four: Colorado (2-2 home), Orlando City (2-2 home) and Houston Dynamo (0-0 away). They did manage a win over Real Salt Lake (2-0 home), though, and so actually come into Sunday unbeaten in their last quartet.
A win this weekend would be huge for Vancouver, since only six teams make the MLS playoffs from each conference, and seventh-place Portland is only a point back. Taking the full three would vault the Caps ahead of both Sporting KC and Real Salt Lake (both on 31 points), depending on what those teams do on the weekend, of course.
But, as mentioned, Dallas has yet to lose at home this year. Making matters worse for Vancouver, the home team in this series has won six of the last seven games, with the other being a draw. The visiting team hasn’t won since 2012 when Dallas took a W in Canada. I’m not betting against either of those trends.
Pick: FC Dallas (-145)
(Photo Credit: Matt Boulton (Flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/])