Minnesota United FC forward Kevin Molino

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Our MLS Is Back Tournament premiere rolls along with a look at groups C and D.

Previously, we looked at groups A and B here.

Group C

MLS is Back Tournament Group CMLS



Toronto FC

For a franchise that has made the MLS Cup Final in three of the last four years, Toronto FC has to feel like a bit of a mess right now. First, Toronto was delayed in getting to Florida due to additional COVID-19 testing, pushing back their first match against D.C. United from Friday to Sunday. Then, the Sunday morning match was pushed back to Monday morning because an unnamed Toronto player tested positive for COVID-19. As if that wasn't enough, Toronto blew a 2-0 lead to a D.C. United team that played the whole second half with 10 men.

The pause on the regular season did help the Reds since it gave Michael Bradley additional time to recover after offseason ankle surgery. Now Toronto can focus on getting Jozy Altidore back on the pitch. Altidore didn't play in Monday's match, but expect to see the striker more as the tournament moves on.

For many squads, it would be a huge setback not have Altidore on the pitch. That isn't the case with Toronto, as the Reds have some other quality offensive options. Ayo Akinola bagged a brace against United on Monday, while Alejandro Pozuelo has scored 13 goals in 33 appearances with the club. As long as Toronto's defensive doesn't fall apart like they did on Monday, it's going to be hard to keep the Reds out of the knockout stage.

New England Revolution

New England's biggest advantage doesn't even lace up the boots. Bruce Arena is plenty comfortable with this type of tournament. Not only did Arena lead the United States to two World Cup appearances, but he also has led the USMNT to three Gold Cup titles. Arena was hired in mid-May by New England after the club stumbled out of the gates in 2019, losing eight of their first 12 matches. The rest of the way, the Revolution lost just three of their final 22 regular season matches. New England earned a spot in the playoffs, falling to Atlanta in the opening round.

The offensive attack of the Revs features some names that might not be familiar to the casual fan, but Carles Gil, Gustavo Boa, and Cristian Penilla were a huge reason for in-season resurgence for New England. Gil not only scored 10 goals last year, but the Spaniard also added 14 assists. Boa scored the lone goal in Thursday night's win over Montreal.

The Revolution didn't get any favors with the group they were placed in. Even though some of the odds might have been stacked against them heading into action, New England has the talent and coaching to make a run in the knockout stage. Never bet against Bruce Arena, as he always finds a way to get the most out of his players.

Montreal Impact

New manager, same Montreal Impact. After an ugly start to his managerial career at Monaco, Thierry Henry signed a two-year deal with Montreal in November. The Impact not only started the MLS season with four points in two games, but they also moved into the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. The pause on the season couldn't have come at a worse time for the improving Impact.

Of course once Montreal was able to get back on the pitch, they looked listless in a 1-0 loss to a New England team they had defeated 2-1 in the season opener. The surprise of the short season for Montreal has been Maxi Urruti, who has three goals already after scoring just four all last season. It's hard to see Urruti keeping up with this pace. If Montreal is going to be successful, they'll need more contributions from Bojan Krkic, Saphir Tarder, and Orji Okwonkwo. How the Impact respond to the match against rival Toronto in Thursday night's match will determine if they have any hope of making it to the knockout stage.

D.C. United

D.C. United finished fifth in the Eastern Conference last year before falling to Toronto in extra time in the playoffs. There has been plenty of turnover with Ben Olsen's squad since the loss in October. The biggest name not returning from last year's roster is Wayne Rooney, who decided to return to England to finish out his legendary career after appearing in 52 matches and scoring 25 goals for United.

To try and fill Rooney's production, United added Julian Gressel from Atlanta and Federico Higuain from Columbus. Higuain might not have a lot left in the tank, but he has already made an impact, scoring in the 84th minute on Monday to spark the comeback against Toronto.

While Gressel has struggled to find his footing with United, Ben Olsen has gotten a couple goals this year from an unexpected source. After scoring the game-winner in the second match of the season against Miami, center back Frederic Brillant scored the equalizer in stoppage time against Toronto on Monday. If United can get their attack clicking, they could make a deep run in the knockout stage.

Group D

MLS is Back Tournament Group DMLS


Real Salt Lake

It has been a pretty wild last year for Real Salt Lake. Mike Petke was relieved of his duties as head coach last year after an incident where Petke used homophobic language towards an official. Freddy Juarez was named interim head coach on August 11, and his handling of the team throughout the rest of the season and playoffs was enough for Real Salt Lake to remove the interim tag from Juarez's title.

After finishing third in the Western Conference last season, RSL's start to this year was a little underwhelming, registering two draws before the season was paused. Coming into the tournament, there was some concerns about where Real Salt Lake was going to get goals from, but some of those concerns were soothed in the first match, as RSL scored two goals in the win over the Colorado Rapids.

What is going to determine just how far Real Salt Lake goes in this tournament is going to be the play of the defense and goalkeeper. Nick Rimando retired last season, leaving Zac MacMath at goalie for RSL. So far there hasn't been an issue at goalie, but it remains to be seen how MacMath will respond when the pressure is turned up. If the transition to the new guard at goalkeeper is seamless, Real Salt Lake is going to be tough to beat.

Sporting Kansas City

Sporting Kansas City is coming off a season in which they missed the playoffs, which is an oddity for Peter Vermes' team, who had made the playoffs in eight straight seasons prior to last year. To try and make sure the absence from the playoffs only lasts one year, Sporting Kansas City brought in Alan Pulido. The striker from Mexico has already made an impact, scoring two goals in three matches this season.

Before heading to Orlando, Sporting Kansas City opened up the season red-hot, winning their first two matches by a combined score of 7-1. It looked like SKC was on their way to a third straight win in 2020, but goaltender Tim Melia was given a red card in the 74th minute. The rest of the match was a nightmare for Sporting Kansas City, as they scored an own goal in the 92nd minute to allow Minnesota to tie the match, and then SKC lost their shot at earning any points when Minnesota scored five minutes later.

The setback against Minnesota could be the difference as to whether SKC moves on to the knockout stage or heads home in a couple weeks. While Sporting Kansas City has some room for error since there are some third place teams that will move on to the knockout stage, now they can't afford any more collapses in their final two group stage matches.

Colorado Rapids

Another squad in this group who has a coach in their first full year after finishing out last season as an interim head coach is the Colorado Rapids. Robin Fraser was Colorado's third coach last season, replacing Conor Casey, who replaced Anthony Hudson. The Rapids undoubtedly performed the best under Fraser in 2019, winning five of their seven matches after Fraser took over.

Prior to Sunday night's loss to Real Salt Lake, Colorado started out 2020 like they finished 2019. The Rapids won their first two matches of the season, both by a 2-1 scoreline, with all four goals coming from different players. One of those goal scorers was Kei Kamara, who scored 14 goals last season. Kamara now has recorded at least 10 goals in each of the last three seasons.

If Colorado was in any other group in this tournament it'd be almost a no-brainer to predict them to move on to the knockout round. Unfortunately the Rapids were drawn into the toughest group, and suffered a loss to their rival in their first match. It's not out of the question for Colorado to advance but they find themselves in a pretty deep hole.

Minnesota United FC

The third season was the charm for Minnesota United FC. After missing the playoffs in their first two seasons in MLS, the Loons finally broke through last year, finishing fourth in the Western Conference, Unfortunately for Minnesota the playoff run was very short, as they were downed by the LA Galaxy in the opening round.

The Loons know they have a lot more to prove this year and they did a great job at putting the rest of the league on notice in their first two matches, winning both contests by a combined score of 8-3. For quite a while on Sunday night it looked like those first two results might be a little smoke and mirrors, as Minnesota was stymied by Sporting Kansas City. The Loons proved it's not over till it's over though, scoring both of their goals during second half stoppage time to shock SKC 2-1.

Moving on from Group D is no easy task, but Minnesota already has a leg-up on their competition thanks to the comeback win on Sunday night. Kevin Molino already has three goals on the season, including the game-winner on Sunday night. Watch out for Molino to make more noise as Adrian Heath hopes his team has a deep run in the tournament in them.

Andrew Wiggins and Jayson Tatum

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In Game 5 of the NBA Finals, the Warriors defended the home floor to take a 3-2 lead in the finals over the Boston Celtics. Largely, this is because Boston was careless with the basketball. The Warriors tallied nine steals and forced 18 turnovers by the Celtics. In contrast, the Warriors only got the ball stolen twice and turned the ball over just six times Monday night. While Stephen Curry was guarded ferociously and was held to just 16 points on 7-of-22 shooting (and 0-9 from downtown), his teammates stepped up.

Andrew Wiggins had another huge double-double, scoring 26 points (12-23 FG) and hauling in 13 rebounds. Finally, if the Celtics hope to win in Game 6, they will need to stay awake in the fourth quarter. Over the last two games, Boston has fallen asleep at the end of the game while the Warriors managed to sneak away with two consecutive victories.

Let's take a look at some of tonight's best bets for this huge NBA Finals Game 6.

Please Note: All betting odds were correct today as of 2:00 pm EST from Caesars Sportsbook

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Best Bets of the Night

Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics -4 (GSW Leads 3-2)

NBA Finals Best Bet #1: Boston Celtics -4 (-110)

It’s difficult to envision the Boston Celtics collapsing in the fourth quarter in three consecutive games. The Celtics may briefly watch the tape from Game 5 but they are going to have to shake it off and move forward immediately. Boston’s carelessness with the basketball Monday night should produce a much-needed wake-up call that will allow the team to make smarter passes and take fewer risks on offense against a Golden State defense that has surged over the last two games.

While Steph will likely score more than 16 points in Game 6, Jaylen Brown must have a bounce-back performance after going 5-of-18 for 18 points in Game 5. Though the Celtics shot above 40% from the field on Monday night, they turned the ball over at an uncharacteristic rate, finishing the night with 18 turnovers. Some of those were unforced errors while the Warriors earned nine steals as well.

At home in Game 6, the Celtics will play better and bring this 2022 NBA Finals series to a blockbuster Game 7 at the Chase Center. For NBA fans wishing for a seven-game series in the 2022 Finals and bettors looking to cash in on Game 6, Boston will win by at least four points at home in a win-or-go-home scenario. Jayson Tatum has yet to play his best basketball this series with Andrew Wiggins playing lethal defense but tonight will be the night that he finally drops 30+ points. Although Steve Kerr seems to think his squad is ready to close out the series, he may have to think again given how well Boston has bounced back from losses this postseason.

Don’t forget that the Celtics were in a three-game to two-game deficit against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals yet found a way to come out victorious. They may not be able to win two straight against Golden State but it’s tough to imagine the Warriors defeating the Celtics in three consecutive matchups. Boston wins by a few possessions: 110-104.

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NBA Finals Best Bet #2: Over (O/U) 210 Total Points (-110)

Though only 204 points were scored between both teams in Game 5 (BOS 97 - 107 GSW), Game 6 will be a higher-scoring contest for multiple reasons. First, Jaylen Brown will have a bounce-back night. After being held to 18 points on 27.8% shooting from the field on Monday, Brown will almost certainly play more efficiently and score more in Game 6. Additionally, Boston had way fewer scoring opportunities due to their whopping 18 turnovers. Ima Udoke will make sure his starters take care of the ball in a game that can decide Boston’s fate. Marcus Smart and Al Horford have come up huge as role players but Tatum needs to really shift into an entirely new gear. Don’t be surprised if that happens tonight.

The story through Games 4 and 5 has been the same. Golden State has stepped it up on defense, managing to out-rebound the Celtics in both contests. Robert Williams III might have something to say about that tonight. In Game 6, the Celtics should be more cautious with the ball and therefore have more opportunities than they did over the last two contests. Meanwhile, the Warriors are always expected to drop at least 105+ points.

NBA Player Props

Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics -4 (GSW Leads 3-2)

Prop #1: Andrew Wiggins To Record a Double-Double (+225)

Throughout these NBA Finals, Andrew Wiggins has been on an absolute tear. Just over the last two contests where he finished both with double-doubles, he’s recorded 29 rebounds and 43 points. He has adapted his style of play and is spending more time down low in the post to help the Warriors out on the glass. Wiggins is putting significant pressure on Robert Williams III, Al Horford, and Jayson Tatum to rebounds the ball more efficiently. Not only is Wiggins keeping his scoring numbers up, he’s drastically improved on the defensive end to record 49 rebounds (9.8 rebounds per game in the Finals) through the first five games of this series. Wiggins’ shift to focus on rebounding and keeping the pressure down low has worked brilliantly for the Warriors over the last two games, both of which they won. In Game 6, expect him to continue to do what has been working, giving him a great chance to produce a third consecutive double-double in the NBA Finals. Perhaps he can even win the NBA Finals MVP Award if he continues to play at this level. Wiggins has been the true x-factor for the Dubs in this series.

Prop #2: Jaylen Brown Over 24.5 Points (-110)

After a rough shooting night in Game 5 where Brown only converted on five of his 18 shots from the field, he should wake up and score 25+ points in Game 6 at TD Garden. While you may want to stick away from three-point shooting props involving brown right now, he’ll hit the over in points tonight at the TD Garden. Brown has only scored over 24 points in one of five games this series (27 points in Game 3) but the Celtics do much better when Brown and Tatum perform like the perennial All-Stars that they are.

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Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

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In Game 4 of the 2022 NBA Finals, Stephen Curry and the Warriors executed exactly where they didn’t in Game 3 to tie up the series 2-2. Notably, Golden State dominated down low Friday night after being outrebounded and suffocated by the Celtics in Game 3. As a team, the Warriors recorded 16 offensive boards for a total of 55 rebounds for the night. For instance, Draymond Green struggled Wednesday night to finish the night with only four rebounds and three assists before fouling out in the fourth quarter.

In Game 4, Draymond dominated down low for eight rebounds, eight assists, and four steals without getting himself into foul trouble (only three PFs for Green in Game 4 after fouling out in Game 3).

Best Bets of the Night

Game: Boston Celtics at Golden State Warriors - 4 (-110)

Similar to Game 3, both teams shot the ball rather evenly. The Warriors finished the night with 44% shooting from the field, and 34.9% from downtown. The Celtics converted 40% of the field goal attempts and 39.5% of their shots from deep. One factor which helped Golden State keep up with the Celtics throughout the game was terrific rebounding. Andrew Wiggins stepped it up off the glass to produce a 17-point and 16-rebound double-double. What really caused the Celtics to lose in Game 3 was a complete offensive collapse in the fourth quarter.

With seven minutes remaining in the game, the Celtics had a 91-86 lead over Golden State. That means Boston was outscored 21-6 in the second half of the fourth quarter to lose Game 4 107-97. With Golden State back home, expect their offense to shoot better than they did on the road and secure a home victory in Game 5.

Bet: Golden State Warriors -4 (-110)

Throughout the 2022 NBA Playoffs, the Warriors shot 49.4% from the field and 40.7% from downtown in 11 games played at home. For their nine road games, the Warriors were less efficient on average averaging 47.2 FG% (2.2% less efficient from the field) and 34.9% (-5.8% less efficient from 3PT range). The numbers reveal clearly that for the 2022 NBA Playoffs, the Warriors have been more efficient scoring. With the prospect of taking a 3-2 lead over the Celtics, its likely that Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have another big night in front of the home crowd.

Bet: Over (O/U) 212.5 Total Points (-110)

While only 204 points were scored in Game 4, expect Game 5 to be a much higher-scoring game. In addition to the Warriors shooting much better from the field, the team seems to have found some efficiency against the bigger Celtics down low. These two factors could push the Warriors to score 120+ points in Game 5. In turn, Jayson Tatum who scored 23 points (8-23 FG) will bounce back to have a 30+ point game. Both he and Steph are scoring big these NBA Finals.

While the defense was the main story of Games 3 and 4 at the TD Garden, scoring buckets will be the principal feature of Game 5 at the Chase Center. With him and Stephen Curry averaging more than 34 PPG through these finals, you can count on Game 5 in Golden State to be a high-scoring game.

NBA Player Props

Game: Boston Celtics at Golden State Warriors - 4 (-110)

Prop: Jayson Tatum, Over 26.5 Points

Jayson Tatum, like the rest of the Celtics, started hot but finished ice cold. If it wasn’t for the fourth quarter where Tatum shot the ball multiple times unsuccessfully. This negatively impacted his shooting numbers from Game 4 where he finished the night with 23 points (8-23 FG) converting only 34.9% of his shots taken. After a disappointing Friday night, Tatum will shoot more efficiently in Game 5. Since he still scored 23 points on an off-night, you can count on Tatum to score 30+ points in Game 5 even if the Warriors defeat the Celtics.

Prop: Andrew Wiggins, Over 6.5 Rebounds

One of the major adjustments made by the Warriors in Game 4 was boosting their presence off the glass. Andrew Wiggins recorded 16 of Golden State’s 55 rebounds Friday night.

Through the first four games of the NBA Finals, Wiggins has recorded a total of 34 rebounds. That means Wiggins is averaging 8.5 rebounds per game in the 2022 NBA Finals. Especially because the Warriors know how effective he was producing much-needed rebounds in Game 4, Wiggins will look to have a similar presence down-low in Game 5.

Boston Celtics, NBA Finals Game 3

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In Game 3, both teams shot almost equally well from the field and from downtown. However, Boston took more shots from the field and dominated off the glass to take Game 3 116-100. Boston’s defensive energy was on full display Wednesday night as they outrebounded and drew countless fouls from the Warriors. Boston’s defense was the story of Game 3. Will Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry overwhelm the Celtics in Game 4?

Let’s take a look at some of tonight’s best bets for Game 4 of the 2022 NBA Finals.

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Best Bets of the Night

Game: Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics Game 4 (BOS Leads 2-1)

In Game 3, both teams shot virtually as efficiently from the field. The Celtics converted 48.3% of their shots (43-89 FG) from the field and went 37.1% from downtown. Golden State finished the night with a 46.2 FG% (36-78 FG) as a team, converting 37.5% from beyond the arc. The main reason for the Celtics’ victory was fantastic defense. For instance, Robert Williams III who isn’t 100% healthy, played 26 minutes to produce 10 points, eight rebounds, and four blocks. The Celtics dominated the Warriors off the glass to record 47 rebounds as a team with 15 of them recorded on the offensive end. In contrast, the Warriors totaled 31 rebounds on the game and only had six offensive rebounds. In addition, the Warriors committed 23 personal fouls allowing the Celtics to go to the line 24 times (Celtics were 17-24 FT) and had 16 turnovers as a team. For the Warriors to bounce back in Game 4, they will need to be more aggressive down low and less sloppy on the floor.

Bet #1: Golden State Warriors, +4 (-110)

The Warriors shot the ball well in Game 3, but were simply overwhelmed by the Celtics defense and the energy at the TD Garden Wednesday night. Golden State recorded 39 combined turnovers (16) and personal fouls (23) which demonstrates how sloppy they were with the basketball. This gave Boston a possession advantage throughout the game, ultimately allowing the Celtics to take 11 more field goal attempts and finish the night with seven more made FGs than the Warriors. Offensive efficiency is not the issue for the Warriors. Rather, they will need to ramp it up on defense in Game 4 to make the game interesting. Draymond Green fouled out of the contest after being shut down all night. Green was held to just two points, four rebounds, three assists, and two turnovers in 35 minutes on the floor before getting a sixth personal foul in Game 3.

Bet #2: Over (O/U) 215 Total Points (-110)

Though the Warriors were held to 100 points of offense on Wednesday night, they shot the ball well. Golden State was limited as a team for FGAs as a result of Boston’s defense. In Game 4, Golden State will have an answer to put up more points on the board than they did in Game 3. In turn, the Celtics will keep things interesting. Expect this Game 4 to be a high-scoring contest. Both teams have been scoring big throughout these playoffs, and that doesn't seem to be changing right now during the Finals.

NBA Player Props

Game: Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics Game 4 (BOS Leads 2-1)

Prop #1: Klay Thompson, Over 19.5 Points

Klay Thompson started the night shooting very well but cooled down towards the end. He went five for a whopping 13 attempts from downtown Wednesday night. He finished the night 7-of-17 from the field for 25 points. This comes after a terrible Game 2 performance where Klay went 4-of-19 from the field and only one-of-eight from beyond-the-arc. Tonight, Klay will shoot better tonight after an average Game 3 performance and bad Games 1 and 2.

Prop #2: Jaylen Brown, Over 2.5 Threes

Jaylen Brown has been knocking his shots from downtown as of late. In the last two games, he’s recorded at least three threes. He’s gone 7-of-17 (41.1%) from downtown through Games 2 and 3 combined. In the second of two home games at the TD Garden, it’s likely that Brown knocks down at least three buckets from beyond-the-arc tonight in Game 4.

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