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Toronto FC vs. Columbus: Major League Soccer Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions (Wednesday, May 12)

Toronto FC vs. Columbus: Major League Soccer Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions (Wednesday, May 12) article feature image

Emilee Chinn/Getty Images. Pictured: Columbus Crew standout Lucas Zelarayan.

  • Toronto FC welcomes Columbus to Florida for Wednesday's Major League Soccer showdown.
  • The Reds have struggled out of the gate, while the defending MLS Cup champions are coming off a win after opening with two draws.
  • Ian Quillen breaks down the match below and explains why he likes Columbus to triumph.

Toronto FC vs. Columbus Odds

Toronto FC Odds +165
Columbus Odds +150
Draw +245
Over/Under 2.5 (-134 / -103)
Day | Time Wednesday | 7 p.m. ET
How To Watch ESPN+
Odds updated Wednesday morning via DraftKings.

Life for manager Chris Armas, who’s in his first year as Toronto FC manager, doesn’t get any easier when his side welcomes Columbus to its Florida home away from home for a Wednesday’s Major League Soccer match.

Armas is still looking for his first victory with the Reds, who have been forced to set up a temporary base camp in central Florida due to travel and quarantine restrictions in Canada due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In contrast, Columbus — the defending MLS Cup champion — got its first win of the 2021 campaign last time out after starting things with a pair of draws.

Despite very different beginnings, this might yet be a playoff preview. These teams have represented the Eastern Conference in five of the last six MLS Cup matches.

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Toronto FC

Some of the Reds’ struggles are understandable given that reigning league MVP Alejandro Pozuelo has yet to see the field. Jozy Altidore, Ayo Akinola, Jonathan Osorio and Chris Mavinga have missed chunks of time as well.

Pozuelo (right quadriceps) remains out and Osorio (right thigh) is questionable for this showdown with the Crew.

However, the Reds’ defensive issues are less excusable. Toronto FC has conceded at least 12 goals in its last five matches across all competitions, as it tries to adjust to Armas’ counter-pressing system. The last of those defeats? A 2-0 loss on Saturday against the New York Red Bulls, who Armas previously managed before heading north of the border.

The Reds have also allowed at least 1.5 worth of expected goals (xG) in terms of chances per game. And goalkeeper Alex Bono has saved fewer than half the shots on goal he has faced, well below his career average of 68.6 percent.

The signing of former MLS best XI left back Kemar Lawrence should eventually help the defense. And going forward, Venezuelan attacker Yeferson Soteldo — a Designated Player signing from Brazilian side Santos — could make his first start after making his debut in Saturday’s defeat.

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The club’s rebrand, which was made official this week, has proven plenty controversial. Yet on the pitch, manager Caleb Porter’s men continue to grind out results. The most recent was a 3-1 home win over D.C. United this past Saturday, keyed by Lucas Zelarayan’s free kick and a pair of own goals.

Some of the analytical metrics suggest the Crew have been more lucky than good. For example, Columbus is dead last in MLS in xG at 1.63, according to American Soccer Analysis.

However, the same team also considerably outperformed its xG for and against totals in 2020, en route to winning the title. So, it’s worth considering whether there is a lurking variable that xG doesn’t account for overall.

Striker Gyasi Zardes (shoulder) and winger Pedro Santos (knee) are questionable for the match, though both played last time out. Yet, Porter won’t lose a lot if he has to turn to Bradley Wright-Phillips and Derrick Etienne, Jr. as their replacements.

Betting Analysis & Pick

I believe Toronto FC will be fine in the big picture, and might even make a deep MLS Cup run. However, right now, the combination of injuries and an adjustment period to Armas’ tactics could prolong this fallow stretch.

Transitions take time even in the best of circumstances, let alone when you’re missing a league MVP and playing your “home” games behind closed doors in a unfamiliar city thousands of miles from your fans and stadium.

Columbus hasn’t overwhelmed with stylishness to start the season, plus it has injury issues, but Porter’s men aren’t building the plane while flying it.

Given the early form of these two sides and the dubiousness of home-field advantage, Columbus should be the slight favorite. I’ll take them here at +150 odds, with an implied probability of around 40 percent.

Pick: Columbus ML (+150)

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