As they look to avoid three defeats in a row, Portland Timbers welcome Seattle Sounders to Providence Park (3pm ET Sunday; TV: Live on ABC). In contrast, the visitors look to extend their unbeaten start to the new campaign. Here USA Betting gives our preview and predictions for this MLS game, ending with picks.
For some time now, Portland Timbers have been one of MLS’s biggest hitters. They’ve regularly finished high up in the Western Conference, winning the Supporters’ Shield in 2017, while they went all the way to MLS Cup glory in 2015. However, after finishing the regular season in a pleasing third position last term, the Timbers have got off to a bad start this time around. First time out, they were disappointingly beaten by Vancouver, failing to score in the process, while they were hammered (1-4) by Dallas last weekend. They also dropped out of the CONCACAF Champions League in disappointing fashion, losing by four goals to two on aggregate against Mexico’s Club America.
Sandwiched between those two league defeats was a pleasing victory over Houston Dynamo, who are the only MLS side to travel to Providence Park this term. Returning home is a positive, especially since their only real attacking display of the season came on home soil.
Same old Seattle
While Portland have stuttered at the start of the campaign, Seattle, who’ve lifted MLS Cup in two of the last five seasons, and who’ve either finished 1st or 2nd in the Western Conference in each of the last five years, have made a pleasing start to the 2021 season.
First time out, Brian Schmetzer’s well-oiled machined thrashed Minnesota by four goals to nil, while they followed that effort up with a respectable draw away against LAFC, who are no easy team to face in their own backyard. Last weekend, the Sounders resumed winning ways, brushing aside LA Galaxy, scoring three goals, and conceding zero in the process. It is early days, but it looks like Seattle have retained all their quality, and once again look primed for a big season.
Although Seattle are undoubtedly one of the stronger teams in MLS, they don’t exactly boast the most encouraging away record. In fact, it’s fair to say that for some time, they’ve found it difficult to be at their best away from home. On their own patch, Seattle played some outstanding stuff last term, claiming the second-highest number of home points in the Western Conference, but they were unable to replicate such form on their travels, winning only three out of ten.
Five teams claimed more travelling points than Seattle, who eventually finished the campaign as regular season runners up in the west. Having said that, for all they did struggle to get their noses in front, Schmetzer’s men were by no means easy to beat on their travels. Only one team in the west conceded fewer away-day goals than the Sounders, while no team conceded fewer expected goals. What’s more, Seattle became the only team in the entire conference to finish the campaign with a positive xG difference. Since much of their squad is the same, we really shouldn’t expect Sunday’s visitors to start rolling over on the road, even if they’re not the same flamboyant outfit that we often see at Lumen Field.
Where’s the bet?
From a betting point of view, this isn’t exactly a fixture that jumps off the page. Portland Timbers tend to deliver their best football at home, while Seattle Sounders are anything but easy to beat on the road, so a case could be made for both sides, as we can see from the early moneyline, which has the hosts at +175 and the visitors at +135. If we consider the above in conjunction with the respective starts made by this pair, the current odds are hard to argue with. Therefore, there’s little value to be had by supporting either side.
One bet that does appeal is ‘Under 2.5 Goals’ at +125. Seattle made a name for themselves as being a side that thwarted other teams away from home last season, and if their efforts away against LAFC (drew 1-1) a few weeks ago are anything to go by, then they could do something similar this term.
In that draw against LAFC, the Sounders shipped only 0.7 expected goals, creating just 0.8 at the other end. Such numbers bode well for ‘Under’ bettors. Similarly, Sunday’s visitors surrendered an average of just 0.95 expected goals for on the road last campaign. Portland’s rather subdued attacking efforts against lesser teams than Seattle this term wouldn’t exactly point towards home goals flowing on Sunday, or at least they don’t appear to be as likely as the current ‘Over/Under’ odds suggest. Add in that this pair have played out some really, tight, low-scoring games of late, with less than three goals being scored in each of the last three renewals this fixture, and ‘Under 2.5 Goals’ gets the nod. So when it comes to the betting predictions for this MLS matchup, it is just the one pick for this preview:
- Go under 2.5 goals @ top odds of +125 with Bovada.