MLS Odds & Picks: Round of 16 Previews For Columbus vs. Minnesota & Portland vs. FC Cincinnati

Credit:

Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Jeremy Ebobisse #17 of Portland Timbers celebrates with teammates Sebastian Blanco and Dario Zuparic

Jul 28, 2020, 06:00 PM EDT
  • Jeremy Pond previews Tuesday's MLB is Back Tournament Round of 16 matches, complete with odds and picks.
  • Find out how he's betting Columbus vs. Minnesota and Portland vs. FC Cincinnati below.

Columbus vs. Minnesota Odds

Columbus odds +112 [BET NOW]
Minnesota odds +235 [BET NOW]
Draw +240 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 2.5 (-122o/-107u) [BET NOW]
Time Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET
TV FS1

Odds as of Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. ET and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.


Another evening of soccer excitement is on deck Tuesday at the MLS is Back tournament, with two more Round of 16 matches taking place in Orlando.

On Monday, San Jose and Los Angeles Football Club were the latest clubs to advance, joining New York City FC and Sporting Kansas City in the quarterfinal round of the competition. Two more teams join that quartet after tonight’s contests, which should provide more fireworks on the pitch.

The featured match of the doubleheader is the opener, where powerful Columbus takes on upstart Minnesota United.

Columbus steamrolled its way through Group E of the tournament, going a perfect 3-0 in its fixtures. The Crew, led by Gyasi Zardes and Darlington Nagbe, racked up seven goals and posted three shutouts during that stretch of matches.

Yet, despite that stellar form, oddsmakers continue to show Columbus very little respect. The Crew are currently sitting at 16-1 odds to win the title, which is only slightly better than the 22-1 odds they closed at prior to the opening game of the competition.

On the other side, Minnesota earned second place in Group D via its 1-0-2 record and four points. The Loons secured a shocking 2-1 win against Sporting Kansas City in their opener before settling for draws against Colorado and Real Salt Lake.

Offensively, Columbus boasted a +2.6 expected-goals differential and +0.86 expected-goals differential for 90 minutes in group action. Those numbers were much better than Minnesota (+0.4 xGDiff and +0.13 xGDiff/90 minutes) in both categories.


Expected goals (also known as xG) is an advanced statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as luck or outstanding goalkeeping.


With that in mind, I am backing Columbus to pick up the victory in this spot. The Crew have just been too good and there is no reason to believe that brilliant form won’t carry over into this tilt with the Loons.

I am playing Columbus getting a plus number on the money line, but will also tack on a live play on the spread if the number is right. The Crew are hovering the neighborhood of -180 and anything that settles around -180 or even lower in the first half would be worth the play in my opinion.

The Bet: Columbus (+112)
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Portland vs. FC Cincinnati Odds

Portland odds -129 [BET NOW]
FC Cincinnati odds +310 [BET NOW]
Draw +290 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 2.5 (-136o/+104u) [BET NOW]
Time Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. ET
TV FS1

The Timbers put the rest of the league on notice during the opening fixtures, going 2-0-1 in the difficult Group F quartet to finish in first place.

Portland capped off its solid run of play with a 2-2 draw against LAFC, which should have it feeling confident entering the knockout stage. Sebastian Blanco and Jeremy Ebobisse have have been solid for the Timbers, who wound up with a mediocre -1.2 expected-goals differential and -0.39 expected-goals differential for 90 minutes in their three matches.

Despite those subpar numbers, Cincinnati was no better and earned nearly identical figures (-1.1 xGDiff and -0.37 xGDiff/90 minutes) on its way to a second-place finish in Group E play. Cincinnati started off on the wrong foot in Florida, suffering a 4-0 loss against Columbus before earning surprise shutout victories against Atlanta and the New York Red Bulls to advance.

The data supports the idea this could be a tight match, which potentially sets up Cincinnati to cover or potentially pull off the upset. However, the numbers aren’t as good as they seem for Cincinnati in my opinion. The Orange and Blue caught Atlanta and RBNY at the perfect time, when both sides were struggling and well out of form, and capitalized on their golden opportunities.

I really think battle-tested Portland is the deeper, more talented team and should have its way in this contest. For that reason, I am backing the Timbers to win outright and playing them to go over their number of goals. Portland was one of my dark horses entering the tournament and has played its way into being a title contender.

The Bets: Portland (-129); Portland Total Over 1.5 Goals (-130) [Bet now at DraftKings. CO, NJ, PA, IN and WV only.]

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