- A trip to the MLS Western Conference Finals is on the line for both the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers on Thursday night (10:30 p.m. ET on FS1).
- Seattle lost the opening leg on the road, 2-1, but they're big favorites to win and advance in the return leg.
- Bettors are very optimistic in the Sounders, however the Timbers could be a good contrarian bet.
The Seattle Sounders have a chance to reach their third MLS Cup final in a row after winning in 2016 but losing in a rematch to Toronto FC in 2017.
Here’s a current look at the 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs:
Eastern Conference Semifinals:
Columbus Crew (#5) lead 1-0 vs. New York Red Bulls (#1)
Atlanta United (#2) lead 1-0 vs. New York City FC (#3)
Western Conference Semifinals:
Sporting Kansas City (#1) tied 1-1 vs. Real Salt Lake (#6)
Portland Timbers (#5) lead 2-1 vs. Seattle Sounders (#2)
Seattle will take on Portland on Thursday night, and the other three matches will all take place on Sunday, November 11.
After analyzing the betting market for this massive Western Conference showdown, I’ve picked out a value play to make.
MLS Season Record: 51-57-3 for +29.02 units and 27% ROI
The Set Up
The Portland Timbers went down early, 1-0, in the opening leg before coming back to win, 2-1. Seattle put the pressure on the entire match, but couldn’t quite find an equalizer.
It was a critical victory for Portland as they now only need to earn a draw in Seattle on Thursday night in order to reach the Western Conference Finals.
If there’s one positive for the Sounders to take from the first leg it’s that they managed to score an away goal. That means that if they win the home leg, 1-0, then they’ll automatically advance. A 2-1 victory by Seattle would force extra time, while any other one-goal win would see Portland progress.
Any type of draw or win will be plenty for the Timbers to move on.
The Sounders are also dealing with two new key injuries. Chad Marshall (knee) will be out for the season after undergoing meniscus surgery, while midfielder Cristian Roldan (hip flexor) is a game-time decision.
The Timbers appear to be relatively healthy, and they’ll also get back central defender Larrys Mabiala who was suspended for the first leg.
Portland had gone 10 straight matches before winning at Seattle in June of this season, a 3-2 victory from the Timbers. They should come into this contest with a ton of confidence, especially after winning the first leg.
Bettors, however, don’t appear to have the same confidence in Portland as all the tickets and money has come in on Seattle. After opening -120, the Sounders are up to -140 behind 80% of moneyline tickets and 70% of spread wagers.
The market has since adjusted the odds toward the home side.
While home teams dominate the regular season, it’s a different story in the playoffs, as three of four road teams progressed from the knockout round.
There are a lot of things to like about Portland in this matchup. They’re the contrarian side with increasing value due to the line movement, they’re the healthier club, and they’ve picked up multiple wins against Seattle since June 30th.
Despite most bettors taking Seattle to win, I’m going with Portland +0.5 goals (+125) to earn a win or draw.