Austin FC vs. Portland Timbers Odds, Picks, Predictions: Thursday MLS Betting Preview (July 1)
John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images and Roy Miller/ISI Photos/Getty Images. Pictured, from left: Hector Jimenez of Austin FC and Yimmi Chara of the Portland Timbers.
- Austin FC and the Portland Timbers meet in MLS action on Thursday evening.
- Austin has underwhelmed to open the season, but goalkeeper Brad Stuver has been exceptional.
- Can Los Verdes snap their eight-match winless streak at home in Q2 Stadium, or will Portland overcome its injury issues to steal points on the road?
Austin FC vs. Portland Odds
|Austin FC Odds||+116|
|Over/Under||2.5 (-130 / -104)|
|Day | Time||Thursday | 9:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Thursday morning and via DraftKings.|
Austin FC enters its third home game still in search of its maiden victory at Q2 Stadium as it welcomes the Portland Timbers on Thursday night.
The fans at Q2 have yet to see a goal from any team, with Austin playing San Jose and then Columbus to 0-0 draws. Portland also failed to score its last time out in a 1-0 home loss to Minnesota United.
The Timbers have not been held scoreless in back-to-back games this season. So, Austin FC likely must score in Thursday’s match in order to earn points at its new digs.
Austin FC: Behind the Team’s Eight-Match Winless Streak
Austin FC’s early-season struggles at home may be explained in part by the team’s psychological adjustment to being the favored party. Teams that are used to being underdogs occasionally wrestle with adapting to the unfamiliar role as favorites.
Oddsmakers backed Los Verdes in each of their first two home games. Nonetheless, both of their opponents were content to face Austin FC playing without striker Danny Hoesen, who is now officially lost for the year to hip surgery.
According to MLSsoccer.com, Austin led San Jose in expected goals (xG) 1.8-0.7 and trailed Columbus in xG 1.1 to 1.0. But a similar dynamic surfaced in both matches: Austin only created two chances with an 8% conversion probability or better in each game.
That’s the mark of a team whose opponents have dared Austin to try to unlock their deep block. Los Verdes have mostly failed to do it, and — as a result — are winless in their last eight games.
The good news for manager Josh Wolff’s squad is on defense, even despite injury absences to Ben Sweat (ACL) and Nick Lima (hamstring).
Goalkeeper Brad Stuver in particular has been exceptional. Per StatsBomb, Stuver’s advanced goalkeeping metrics are the best in MLS, both in terms of total goals prevented and goals stopped per 90 minutes.
Portland: Can The Timbers Overcome Their Injury Woes?
The Timbers’ results have been hit-and-miss as they continue to fight against one of the league’s most virulent injury bugs. And yet, in some ways they’ve had more good luck than bad.
Manager Giovanni Savarese’s squad has now tied or trailed its opponent in xG in seven of its last eight matches. The exception? A 3-0 victory over an LA Galaxy side that played the second half with 10 men.
Yet the Timbers have won three of the last eight matches and have drawn in another. Moreover, they’ve achieved those results without two of their premier finishers — Sebastian Blanco and Jaroslaw Niezgoda — on the field for any considerable stretch.
After recovering from an ACL tear suffered last September, Blanco made his first appearance of the season in a 2-1 win against Sporting Kansas City, then came on again in a 2-2 draw at Houston last Wednesday
Unfortunately, however, the 2020 MLS is Back Tournament MVP had to leave the latter match prior to full time and is now questionable for Thursday’s match with a knee issue.
In better Portland injury news, goalkeeper Steve Clark has returned to make two starts in the last two weeks. He was exceptional in defeat to Minnesota United, making four saves that included two exceptional reflex stops early in the second half.
Betting Analysis & Pick
If you believe that the current season offers a sufficiently large sample to enable us to infer meaningful trends, then the play here is easy: Betting “No” on both teams to score.
The +117 odds — an implied probability of 46% — are startlingly generous when you consider that both teams have scored in only half of Portland’s 10 games, and only three of Austin’s 11.
The question is if there’s a reason to expect a reversal in that trend. Oddsmakers might be doing so, because both teams have played lower-scoring matches than their xG totals would predict.
I’m not convinced that a correction is coming on Thursday, though. Stuver really is playing at a Goalkeeper of the Year level, and Clark is a definite improvement from loan signing Logan Ketterer.
Each team is playing its fourth game in 13 days. Plus, both continue to play without their top-choice center forwards.
Betting “No” on both teams to score is rarely an exciting play, and it can make you downright uneasy if you’re watching the game. But it’s often a sensible choice. This is one of those times.
Pick: Both Teams To Score — No (+117)