Sunday MLS Odds, Picks, Prediction for Portland vs. Los Angeles FC: Underdog Timbers Full of Value (Sept. 19)
Abbie Parr/Getty Images. Pictured: Sebastian Blanco.
- LAFC travels to Portland on Sunday for an important Major League Soccer fixture.
- Both clubs are unbeaten in their last four matches, plus they're sitting in the thick of the playoff race.
- Ian Quillen explains below why he's backing the underdog host Timbers.
Portland vs. LAFC Odds
|Over/Under||3.5 (+130 / -160)|
|Day | Time||Sunday | 7:30 p.m. ET|
|How To Watch||FS1 | fuboTV|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.|
The Portland Timbers look to build on their promising recent run when they host an LAFC side that has been in similarly strong form.
Portland are unbeaten in four after drawing the Colorado Rapids at home following three consecutive victories.
Meanwhile, LAFC have won three in a row and also carry in a four-match unbeaten run after a 2-1 midweek victory at Austin FC.
This is the second of three meetings on the schedule between two sides in the thick of the Western Conference playoff chase.
The Timbers won the first 2-1 in Portland in July. The third is set for Sept. 29 in Los Angeles.
Portland Have Recaptured Winning Form
I’ve been waiting for the Timbers to rediscover their 2020 MLS-is-Back-Tournament championship form for the better part of this season.
Perhaps that moment is finally here.
What’s most encouraging from the Timbers’ recent four-match unbeaten run is the defense.
Portland allowed opponents 1.1 expected goals (xG) or fewer in each of their three consecutive away wins while keeping three consecutive clean sheets.
The draw against Colorado was a regression, but the Rapids have been arguably the best team in the Western Conference since June 1.
And still the Timbers twice quickly answered after conceding, including Sebastian Blanco’s equalizer in the first minute of second-half stoppage time.
After battling health issues for much of the first half of the season, Portland have no new notable injuries at the moment, aside from the quartet of players that have been lost to the season for a while.
Blanco’s 90-plus minute shift against Colorado was his longest since his return from tearing his ACL last September.
When he was finally taken off, it was striker Jaroslaw Niezgoda — another 2020 ACL casualty — making his 2021 debut.
LAFC Finally Meeting Expectations
For many, LAFC’s recent form is exactly what many expected from a team that began 2021 as the oddsmakers’ favorite.
And there are reasons to hope this can continue down the stretch. The biggest? The performance of summer signing (and Diego Rossi replacement) Cristian Arango, who already has five goals in seven league appearances.
Additionally, LAFC’s recent form comes despite a growing injury list.
Carlos Vela, the 2019 MLS MVP and Golden Boot winner, remains out with a quad issue. And Eduard Atuesta will miss a second consecutive match after he took an injury in last weekend’s 3-2 win over Real Salt Lake.
But there’s also reason to be skeptical of this upturn, including the circumstances of each of their previous three wins.
Manager Bob Bradley’s men performed well against Sporting Kansas City. However, it was much tighter than a 4-0 win prior to a second-half red card to SKC’s Roger Espinoza.
Then came a 3-2 win where LAFC arguably weren’t as good as Real Salt Lake, but won via a comical own goal. And a 2-1 midweek win at Austin should be an expectation for competent MLS playoff contenders.
Betting Analysis & Pick
As long as the Timbers are a home underdog here, they’re a good bet.
As I’ve addressed before, I believe there are structural reasons LAFC are underperfoming their xG difference of 20.5 by more than 17 goals.
Even if not, the player that allowed LAFC to absorb some of the impact of Vela’s recent injury was Eduard Atuesta. Now he’s also out. So LAFC’s xG performance doesn’t correlate to the roster available.
Additionally, LAFC are playing a second game away in five days, at two destinations that happen to be among the furthest apart in the Western Conference.
Portland have the same short turnaround, but with both games at home. And although the Timbers have ridden their luck to stay in the playoff race this season, it’s worth noting three of their five games this season where they won the xG battle have come in this four-game run.
What do those games also have in common? Longer outings from Blanco, the 2020 MLS is Back Tournament MVP.
Need more convincing? Well, Portland have won six of 11 at home, and LAFC have lost seven of 11 away.
That’s not an advanced metric, but surely it means something. Like, for example, that you can be confident you’re getting value playing the Timbers as a home underdog at +185 odds and an implied 35.1% probability.
Pick: Portland ML (+185)