Thanksgiving Day MLS Playoffs Odds, Picks, Prediction: Back Portland, Sebastian Blanco in Showdown with Colorado Rapids

Thanksgiving Day MLS Playoffs Odds, Picks, Prediction: Back Portland, Sebastian Blanco in Showdown with Colorado Rapids article feature image
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Quinn Harris/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Portland Timbers star Diego Valeri.

  • The Portland Timbers head to the Rockies today for their MLS Playoffs showdown with the Colorado Rapids.
  • Sebastian Blanco has been in exceptional form of late for the Timbers, who eliminated Minnesota United last time out.
  • Ian Quillen breaks down the matchup below and delivers his top selections.

Colorado vs. Portland Odds

Colorado Odds -160
Portland Odds +375
Draw +310
Over/Under 3.5 (+125 / -185)
Day | Time Thursday | 4:30 p.m. ET
How To Watch FOX | fuboTV
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.

Top seed Colorado will try to continue their surprising season in the MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference semifinal round on Thanksgiving Day when they host fourth-seeded Portland.

Colorado earned a first-round bye on MLS Decision Day after securing the No. 1 seed with a 5-2 home victory over Los Angeles Football Club.

Portland had been locked into No. 4 spot entering the final day, but are winners of four in a row after recovering from an early deficit in a 3-1 first-round win over Minnesota United.

Colorado won the regular-season home meeting, 2-0, just over a month ago and played Portland to a 2-2 draw in Oregon.

Colorado Finds Success With Depth

With only one Designated Player on the roster — the injury-plagued Younes Namli — Colorado are the latest in MLS to show you can succeed with depth over star power. Twenty players have made at least six starts for the Rapids during the regular season. Five of them have scored at least five goals.

And only dead-ball artist Jack Price comes close to being irreplaceable as a starter in the front six with his 12 assists.

There’s a school of thought, though, that such strength in numbers becomes more of a weakness during the postseason. Teams making deep playoff runs in the recent past — see Seattle, Toronto FC, Atlanta United, Columbus and Portland — typically have at least one or two stars who consistently can create their own shot.

There’s also the 18-day break between matches Colorado had to manage after receiving the bye and dealing with the November international break.

Since the introduction of a single-elimination format, teams playing their first playoff game against an opponent playing its second have gone 1-2-1 (W-L-D) over 90 minutes, with only one advancing in the competition.

Surging Portland Riding Blanco in Playoffs

The Timbers arrive in the Rockies bolstered by the continued excellent play of Sebastian Blanco, who scored the last two goals this past Sunday.

Blanco has only been a regular fixture of Portland’s starting lineup for their last 15 games in all competitions. He tore his ACL in September of 2020, and a couple setbacks delayed his return to 90-minute fitness.

However, the Timbers have been the best team since he crossed that threshold. They’ve won 11 of those games — including their first-round triumph — while outscoring opponents by a 32-15 margin.

In 24 appearances across all competitions, Blanco has nine goals and six assists. He’s on a  tear with five goals and a primary assist in his last three games. Blanco is unlikely to be rotated, but you could see some changes elsewhere in manager Giovanni Savarese’s starting XI.

At striker, Jaroslaw Niezgoda might get the start at center forward ahead of Felipe Mora. Niezgoda spelled Mora off the bench in the last game, but his efficiency probably makes him better-suited to play in an away postseason game. Portland is more likely to seek out quality of chances than quantity.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

First things first: Blanco did not travel in Portland’s recent loss in Colorado, so I’m not paying it much attention. With that said, the most obvious value for me here is on the total under 3.5 goals; not under 2.5 at a better price.

Colorado sometimes has trouble breaking down teams in a low block, which happens often at home, and which Portland is likely to sit in at least part of the time.

When you look at the Rapids’ home results and the Timbers away form, the total went under 3.5 goals on 25 occasions — or in about 73.5% of games. It’s more pronounced since the June break for the Gold Cup, hitting 20 out of 25 times. Both figures suggest there’s value even at pricey -185 odds and an implied 64.9% probability.

My second play, on Portland getting a +0.5 goal at +125 odds and an implied 44.4 % probability, is more intuitive. The expected goals suggest the Timbers are riding their luck, but they pass the eye test. Colorado has been strong overall, but their home form is not as impressive as you’d think.

Five of Portland’s six away wins have come in their last seven games. History says it’s better to be the team on a roll than on a bye. And it’s hard to argue that the Timbers don’t have more elite attacking players — Blanco, Niezgoda, Mora and Diego Valeri off the bench.

Home field matters and the Rapids should be favored, but this price is far too steep. Take the Timbers to at least force extra time.

Pick: Portland +0.5 (+125) | Total Under 3.5 Goals (-185)

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