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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Atlanta United well placed for MLS Cup charge

Toronto FC are the team to beat

Michael Bradley lifts the MLS Cup for Toronto FC
1 of 1

Starts Saturday

Atlanta United exceeded expectations when making the MLS Cup playoffs in their first campaign and with that experience behind them they could be the team to beat this season.

Gerardo Martino’s men finished fourth in the Eastern Conference last term, just two points off a Conference semi-final spot, but they have strengthened significantly over the post-season break and must be confident of conquering the MLS field.

Keeping hold of leading marksman Josef Martinez, who notched 19 times last term, shows their dedication to the cause while creative spark Miguel Almiron, who grabbed 14 assists in an encouraging debut season, should continue to shine.

Yamil Asad’s switch to DC United is a loss but their transfer business apart from that has been excellent and the ambitious acquisition of Argentinian youngster Ezequiel Barco could bring further success.

The teenage sensation joined for £11m from Independiente and has created a big impression in South America.

Martino has also bolstered his midfield by pinching Darlington Nagbe from Portland and a more settled start to the campaign should see Atlanta challenging for top honours.

The Five Stripes won just three of their opening ten games last term but moving into their new home settled them and their dominance on their own patch makes them a force to be reckoned with.

Atlanta notched 26 goals in just nine appearances at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium and, with home advantage pivotal in MLS games, expect them to outscore their visitors.

Champions Toronto FC are the team to beat. The Canadian outfit blitzed the regular season last term, amassing an incredible 69-point haul before taking the Eastern Championship and setting up an MLS Cup rematch with Seattle. But there’s little juice in the prices for a repeat triumph and Atlanta have every chance of surpassing them.

New York City have something to prove following Jack Harrison’s departure to join Middlesbrough on loan from Manchester City, and away form could cost them again.

New York Red Bulls tend to fall short against the better opposition, while LA Galaxy were atrocious last season, crashing to their worst finish in club history, and will be hoping a new rivalry with debut franchise Los Angeles FC spurs them on.

Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps dominated the Western Conference last season and the trio, who thrive on home soil, should be prominent again.

Recommendation
Atlanta to win MLS Cup
2pts 9-1 bet365


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Toronto FC are the team to beat. The Canadian outfit amassed an incredible 69-point haul last term
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