Then there were two. After a month of action in the Florida heat, Orlando City SC and Portland Timbers are all that remains at the MLS is Back Tournament. The pair will battle it out to be crowned champions at Field 17 on Tuesday (8pm ET).
At the start of the tournament, Orlando weren’t exactly thought of as tournament favorites, but in their own backyard, they have performed as though they ought to have been. The conditions have suited Óscar Pareja’s men, who notched three goals en route to getting the better of Minnesota last time out. Portland weren’t quite as convincing when beating Philadelphia, but The Timbers still got the job done, despite being on the back foot for large portions of their 2-1 victory.
So who wins this MLS final? Read on for USAbetting’s Portland Timbers vs OCSC predictions and preview, culminating with our betting picks against the US oddsmakers.
Similar form shown
During the group stages of this competition, Orlando faced both New York City and Philadelphia Union, both of whom have since been beaten in the knockouts by Portland. This means there is some solid comparative form to go over. Orlando beat NYC by three goals to one, playing largely on the break. Much of the same can be said for The Timbers, who also beat NYC by three goals to one. They too saw less of the ball than their opponents but were effective on the counter.
Interestingly, Orlando struggled slightly against Philadelphia. On that occasion, they were not able to play primarily on the counter and were thus not that effective, drawing 1-1. In contrast, Portland did benefit from seeing less of the ball against Philly. In the four games mentioned, both have shown a fondness for playing counter-attacking soccer. As far as this game is concerned, a lot will probably depend on which side dominates possession. If Portland dig in and make sure that Orlando dictate the game, then they are likely to do well on the break, and vice versa.
However, for all both have shown a tendency to do well on the break, Orlando have looked more adaptable. As the tournament has worn on, they have performed well when dictating play, which is not really something that can be said for Portland, who in terms of style, look a bit one paced.
xG numbers favor Orlando
- Expected goals (xG for short) equals the number of goals that should have been scored based on the number, type and quality of chances created in a game.
If we break things down to the bare figures, then Orlando are the side that has performed the best at this tournament. The Lions have created an average of 1.86 expected goals* (known as xG) in Florida, while they have surrendered an average of 1.31. Reversely, Portland are creating an average of 1.46 and are giving away an average of 1.85. This shows that, on average, there is an expected goals difference of 0.92 (in Orlando’s favor) between the pair. Such a figure doesn’t bode well for The Timbers, who have been bettered in terms of expected goals in five out of six in Florida. Orlando are yet to come off worse when it comes to xG.
Not a great fixture for Portland
Historically, this hasn’t been a great fixture for The Timbers, who have won just one of their five previous matches against Orlando, who have won three of the other four. Moreover, Orlando have won 100% of their matches against Portland in the state of Florida, winning by four goals to one in 2016 and by three goals to two in 2018. Now those results, in terms of pure form, mean nothing ahead of this match, but such a record could easily have a psychological effect.
Lions worthy favorites with sportsbooks
Both teams have done incredibly well to reach this stage, but overall, it is Orlando who merit favoritism. The creativity numbers of Orlando are better than those of Giovanni Savarese’s men, but we really shouldn’t underestimate this home advantage. Despite not playing at their own ground, The Lions have clearly benefited from playing in their home state of Florida. The psychological effects (on both teams) of this should not be underestimated.
Florida natives to come out on top
Orlando are favorites with the top-grade USA online betting sites ahead of this matchup, but there is reason to think that they ought to be even shorter in the bookies’ betting lines. In the knockouts, Pareja’s side have grown both in terms of confidence and performance levels. The way they dominated LAFC was impressive, while they brushed aside a strong Minnesota side last time out.
In contrast, Portland delivered what was perhaps their worst performance of the tournament in that semi-final against Philadelphia. They were outshot and created less than their opponents. Improvement isn’t out of question, but it’s hard to think that they would get away with something similar against Orlando, who at the odds, are worth betting to secure one more victory and lift the trophy. So, coming to the concluding Portland Timbers vs Orlando City predictions for this betting picks’ preview, this is USAbetting’s advice: