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MLS Cup Predictions | Best Bets For Orlando vs Columbus, Cincinnati vs Philadelphia & More

MLS Cup Predictions | Best Bets For Orlando vs Columbus, Cincinnati vs Philadelphia & More article feature image
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Johnny Izquierdo/Getty. Pictured: Robin Jansson.

The business end of the MLS Cup Playoffs kicks off this Saturday and Sunday with four conference semifinals.

On Saturday, the action begins with a match between Orlando City and the Columbus Crew in Central Florida, a meeting of arguably the best two teams in the Eastern Conference since Labor Day.

Then it continues when the Philadelphia Union visit FC Cincinnati in the teams' second postseason meeting in as many seasons.

Finally on Sunday night, the Seattle Sounders host LAFC in a meeting of the two most successful Western Conference sides since 2016.

Here are our three best bets for the slate.

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MLS Cup Predictions

Saturday, Nov. 25
5:30 p.m. ET
Apple TV – MLS Season Pass
Orlando Odds+120
Columbus Odds+200
Draw+260
Over / Under
2.5
-150 / +115
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

For all Columbus have done right under first-year coach Wilfried Nancy, their road performances still leave us wanting on the defensive end.

The Crew have conceded multiple goals in 10 of 18 total away matches in MLS regular season and playoff competition, and that ratio goes up to six out of 10 games when considering only sides who made the postseason.

Meanwhile, although Orlando have only scored multiple goals on four out of 10 occasions against playoff qualifiers, those include four of the last five such games. And if you watch Oscar Pareja's group, it's pretty clear they're a considerably more cohesive attacking collective now than they were this spring, especially with the emergence of rookie striker Duncan McGuire.

So, while I think the moneyline doesn't offer a lot of value, I think it's reasonable to expect Orlando to find the net a couple times here. The variable is how much a talented Columbus attack can score on a stubborn Lions defensive unit.

I'm playing Orlando to score more than 1.5 goals at -103 odds and an implied 50.7% probability. And if they get there, I don't have to sweat the Crew potentially earning a result anyway.

Pick: Orlando Team Total Over 1.5 (-103 via BetRivers)

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Saturday, Nov. 25
8 p.m. ET
Apple TV – MLS Season Pass
Cincinnati Odds-118
Philadelphia Odds+260
Draw+300
Over / Under
2.5
-134 / +105
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Both Philadelphia and Cincinnati will be missing key defenders on Saturday, which is my starting point for backing a higher total in this one.

For Cincy, it's center back Matt Miazga who is serving a red card suspension. For Philly, it's left back Kai Wagner missing the second of three games after he admitted directing a racial slur toward New England's Bobby Wood in match 1 of their round one series.

Then there's the news that Julian Carranza, Philly's co-scoring leader, is expected to return after missing match two against New England with a hamstring problem.

But the real basis for my wager, which is a goal-bands play on 3 or 4 total goals at +140 odds and an implied 41.7% probability, is the home/away trends for each of these sides.

Between Cincy's home games and the Union's travels, 22 of 36 MLS league and playoff games have landed on three or four goals this season, or 61.1% of those contests.

The reason we haven't seen a lot of games go above four goals with these sides probably owes to the regression of two attackers — Philly's Daniel Gazdag and Cincy's Brandon Vazquez. That duo has combined to score 18 fewer goals than a season ago, and 23 fewer non-penalty goals.

Each team is talented and deep enough to still earn plenty of victories. But they've lacked that offensive overdrive those two provided last season.

Pick: Goal bands, 3 or 4 total goals (+140 via DraftKings)

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Sunday, Nov. 26
9:30 p.m. ET
Apple TV – MLS Season Pass
Seattle Odds+140
LAFC Odds+170
Draw+250
Over / Under
2.5
-118 / -106
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Sunday's finale is another game where the venue — Seattle's CenturyLink Field — should inform your betting.

For a team known for their attacking prowess, LAFC have become a downright obstinate defensive group on their travels recently, conceding only three goals in their last five games. They've allowed only 2.8 non-penalty xG across those five away matches while avoiding suffering defeat in any.

And even when the Black and Gold weren't keeping things so tight defensively, their travels this season have been much lower scoring than their home games, with the under 2.5 wager cashing on 10-of-18 occasions and 7-of-11 in games against playoff teams.

Conversely, the Sounders have been one of the most rigid defensive sides at home this season. They've amassed a 6-3-4 (W-L-D) record against playoff foes at home this season, with only two of those 13 games featuring more than two goals.

There aren't a ton of places in MLS where you feel all that justified in playing a traditional total under 2.5 goals, but this is one of them if you can get a price at even money and an implied 50% probability or better.

Pick: Under 2.5 (+102 via BetRivers)

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