2018 MLS Cup Playoffs: Betting the First Leg of the Conference Semifinals

Nov 03, 2018 7:53 PM EDT

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Seattle Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan (7) kicks the ball away from Portland Timbers defender Julio Cascante

  • The MLS Cup Playoffs continue on Sunday with four opening leg matchups in the conference semifinals, highlighted by Portland-Seattle (5 p.m. ET) and NYC FC-Atlanta United (7:30 p.m ET).
  • Every moneyline is listed at plus-money odds so we could be in store for a very competitive day.
  • There's been notable betting activity in each matchup and I've picked out two value plays to make.

After an exciting knockout round which saw three road teams advance, the MLS Cup playoffs continue with conference semifinal action all day Sunday.

Eastern Conference:
Byes: New York Red Bulls (#1), Atlanta United (#2)
Knockout Round: New York City FC (#3) beat Philadelphia Union, Columbus Crew (#5) beat D.C. United (#4)

Semifinals: New York Red Bulls (#1) vs. Columbus Crew (#5), Atlanta United (#2) vs. New York City FC (#3)

Western Conference:
Byes: Sporting Kansas City (#1), Seattle Sounders (#2)
Knockout Round: Real Salt Lake (#6) beat LAFC (#3), Portland Timbers (#5) beat FC Dallas (#4).

Semifinals: Sporting Kansas City (#1) vs. Real Salt Lake (#6), Seattle Sounders (#2) vs. Portland Timbers (#5)

Every matchup should be competitive but the most intriguing is out west with Seattle taking on rivals Portland. The Sounders are looking to make their third straight MLS Cup final after they won in 2016, but lost in a rematch to Toronto FC in 2017.

2018 MLS Cup Odds

  • The Red Bulls were +2850 to win MLS Cup at their highest point back in April, but they’re now the clear favorites at +300.
  • Real Salt Lake moved from +10000 to +1600 over the last week due to their miracle qualification into the playoffs.
  • Seattle struggled for the early portion of the season and reached +6000 in August, but they’re now +1200 and second-favorites to win the west.

The conference semifinal matchups consist of two legs with each club playing a home match. The “worse” seed will play the first leg at home.

After analyzing the betting market for each matchup in this season’s conference semifinals, I’ve picked out two value plays. (Odds and betting %’s as of Saturday 7 p.m. ET)

MLS Season Record: 51-55-3 for +31.02 units and 29% ROI

Columbus Crew vs. New York Red Bulls (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET on ESPN)

  • Columbus Odds: +125
  • NY Red Bulls Odds: +230
  • Draw Odds: +240
  • Over/Under: 2.5 (o-108)

Columbus advanced to the conference semifinals after surviving extra time and penalty kicks at D.C. United in the knockout round. They’ll be the underdogs once again against New York, but the Crew are unbeaten in their last three matches against the Red Bulls dating back to 2017.

The Red Bulls are looking to win their first ever MLS Cup and will have home-field advantage in the final if they get there. All the pressure is on the Supporters Shield winners and they’re also the clear-cut favorites (3-1) to win the title.



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