MLS Odds, Picks, Prediction: Los Angeles FC vs. Portland Timbers Betting Preview (March 6)
Shaun Clark/Getty Images. Pictured: Los Angeles Football Club star Carlos Vela.
LAFC vs. Portland Odds
|Over/Under||2.5 (-175 / +138)|
|Day | Time||Sunday | 10 p.m. ET|
|How To Watch||FS1 | fuboTV|
|Odds updated via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.|
Los Angeles FC welcomes Portland in the final Major League Soccer match of the week, which is also a potential preview of this year’s Western Conference power struggle.
Los Angeles has struggled to live up to its perennial favorite status the last two seasons after winning the 2019 Supporters’ Shield.
However, new manager Steve Cherundolo got off to a promising start with a comfortable 3-0 home win over Colorado on the strength of a Carlos Vela hat trick.
Portland has reached MLS Cup twice in four seasons under manager Giovanni Savarese, but lost in both previous appearances.
The Timbers began their new campaign with a 2-2 draw against reigning Supporters’ Shield holder New England last Saturday.
Portland swept the 2021 season series with LAFC, winning all three meetings by 2-1 score lines.
Standout Vela Starts Strong for LAFC
Vela, the 2019 MLS MVP, is out of contract in the middle of this season and his LAFC future is a source of considerable scrutiny.
However, it doesn’t appear to have distracted the Mexican star, who turned 33 on Tuesday. He began celebrations early against the Rapids with his third MLS hat trick and first since the 2019 season.
If Vela stays for all of 2022 and comes anywhere close to replicating his efforts three years ago, LAFC will almost certainly be a title contender. His 34 goals and 10 primary assists that year remain arguably the most productive single season in the league’s 27-year history.
That said, Vela and LAFC’s dominance on debut should come with the caveat they were playing a Colorado side that appeared worn down — and maybe discouraged — by recent CONCACAF Champions League travails.
All four MLS sides that played in midweek matches lost their opening games. The Rapids had the hardest task of all of them, playing away less than 72 hours after crashing out on penalties following 90 cold, snowy minutes against Comunicaciones. The Guatemalan side tied the two-leg series, 1-1, after a 1-0 defeat in Colorado.
There was almost no serious attacking threat for a side that remains without its best defender. Colombian center back Eddie Segura remains out recovering from an ACL tear, though he’s expected back to team training in a few weeks.
Portland Delivers Solid Profit for Backers
The Timbers made bettors a lot of money late in 2021 by earning results that overachieved relative to expected-goal predictions.
If there’s going to be a regression this season, it started quickly against New England. The Timbers were the clear protagonists — to the point manager Bruce Arena said the Revolution looked unprepared — and held a 2.5-0.8 xG edge on the night.
However, they wouldn’t have earned even a point without Yimmi Chara’s early entrant into the MLS Goal of the Year contest. His 77th-minute bicycle kick pulled Portland level for a second time, and was reminiscent of a similar goal from teammate Dairon Asprilla last October.
If there was any trend carryover from 2021, it might have been the Timbers ability to deal with corner kicks. Portland conceded eight goals from corners in 2021, and its first of 2022 came when Brandon Bye’s header rattled the underside of the crossbar.
That underscores more general defensive concerns. First-choice center back pairing Larrys Mabiala and Dario Zuparic remain out recovering from sports hernia surgeries they underwent in January.
Betting Analysis & Pick
By expected-goal difference, this is a meeting between the 2021 Western Conference’s best home side and its worst away team.
By actual record, it’s a matchup of teams that were about league average in those categories.
I’m inclined to lean the latter direction because of 2020 MLS is Back MVP Sebastian Blanco’s return to form later in 2021. It took Blanco more time than expected to recover from an ACL tear suffered later in 2020. When he finally did, the Timbers won 13 of 18 on their way to MLS Cup, and were nearly as good away as they were at home.
That said, Portland’s defensive absences give me enough pause to go slightly conservative with a Double Chance bet at +145 odds and an implied 40.8% probability.
Including LAFC’s home opener, visitors have earned at least a point in 17 of 35 games between the host’s home matches and Portland’s away fixtures back to the start of last season.
Pick: Double Chance — Portland or Draw (+145)
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