MLS Cup Soccer Betting: Columbus Crew vs Portland Timbers
Saturday, December 5th, 2015By Ej Garr
MLS Odds: With the MLS 2015 season down to its final game, a champion will be crowned at MAPFRE Stadium when the Columbus Crew host the Portland Timbers onSunday December 6. Both the Crew and Timbers had to defy the odds of erasing a home field disadvantage in the semifinals of their respective conferences.
The Columbus Crew entered the post-season as the two-seed in the Eastern Conference, and had to start their quest to the finals with a quarterfinal home and home series with the Montreal Impact. The Crew lost the first leg at Stade Saputo in Montreal 2 - 1, and returned to MAPFRE Stadium for the second leg needing a similar result or better to advance to the semifinals.
Kei Kamara was about to become the hero of the night for the Crew, scoring the first goal in just four minutes to get the crowd in an uproar, with more to come much later in the match.
The Impact leveled the match at 1 - 1 just before the halftime whistle, and Kamara almost became the goat instead of the eventual hero. He missed a crucial penalty kick opportunity in the 69th minute that gave the Impact life with 20 minutes left to play. Had the match ended 1 - 1, we would have been talking about the Red Bulls vs the Impact instead of the Crew.
Needing a 2 - 1 result to force no less than extra time and a possible shoot-out scenario, Ethan Finlay rescued the Crew's chances with a 77th minute goal that again threw the crowd into a frenzy, pushing the score to a 3 - 3 aggregate, which eventually forced overtime.
After a scoreless first half of overtime, the Crew and Impact switched sides, and Kamara scored just six minutes into the second extra stanza, and again we mention that the crowd at MAPFRE Stadium might have caused a level 3 earthquake in Ohio.
The Crew then faced the task of getting past the Red Bulls, who had their Supporters Shield waving with home field advantage in tow. The Crew took the first meeting here at MAPFRE Stadium again, with a 2 - 0 victory that left the Red Bulls facing a clean sheet headed home to hope the Red Bull Arena fans could do their part in the second leg.
The Red Bulls kept the Crew off the score sheet in their home leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals with 1 - 0 win, but the Crew advanced by a 2 - 1 aggregate en route to the MLS Finals.
The Crew now find themselves hosting the match that could earn them their second MLS title, their first since 2008.
The Timbers came from the depths of the standings as the regular season was coming closer to an end. The Timbers were as low as seventh place in the Western Conference was the final month of the regular season began, and with a three-match win streak and wins in four of their last five games, the Timbers clinched the 3-seed in the standings.
Having to escape Sporting Kansas City in the opening knockout round, they took part in an epic extra-time that led to a shoot-out that featured all 11 players having a chance from the spot.
Portland and Kansas City went to extra time 1 - 1, and both scored in the overtime periods that forced an 11-round penalty kick scenario that came down to the goalkeepers deciding the match with both their hands and their feet.
Portland keeper Adam Kwarasey and Sporting keeper Jon Kemper were forced to shoot against each other to salvage the season, and after Kwarasey converted his chance, Kemper was unable to reply, and Portland advanced to the quarterfinals of the Western Conference playoffs.
The Timbers then faced the Vancouver Whitecaps and kept the Canadian outfit out of their net in both legs. Portland advanced to the semifinals with a 2 - 0 win in the away second leg after a scoreless first leg at Providence Park.
Portland arrived to the Western Conference Finals facing a similar scenario to Columbus, having the top-seed to get past which in their case was FC Dallas.
Dallas had just gotten past Seattle to earn their way to the Conference Finals, but the first leg was to be played at Providence Park, and the Timbers took full advantage of it.
With a 3 - 1 home win at Providence Park that was aided by an extra time goal by Nat Borchers, the Timbers went in to Toyota Stadium for the second leg and came away with a 2 - 2 result and 5 - 3 aggregate. This made their first MLS finals appearance in only their fifth season in MLS.
So now that you know how we got here, it is time to set ourselves up for a prediction, which we hope to repeat with a win as we did in last year's MLS Cup Final preview.
If you recall, and we will gladly remind you, we told you that a 2 - 1 result with Los Angeles and New England was a likely scenario, and we offered the Over 2.5 as a suggestion.
With a 2 - 1 result by the Galaxy over the Revolution, the offer was a good one, and we are hoping to repeat the accomplishment for our readers this year.
Portland rides an eight-game stretch without a loss since the first week of October, and have scored 19 goals while only allowing 8 over that run.
The Timbers hinged themselves on the strength and reliability of their defense for the entire season, but on their way to the finals they have obviously been scoring as well.
The Crew will look to use that home field advantage that brought them 11 wins this year, which includes a 9 - 4 - 4 regular season, and two post-season wins.
Let's see what lineups we may be able to expect this weekend.
GK: Adam Kwarasey
LB: Jorge Villafana
CB: Liam Ridgewell
CB: Nat Borchers
RB: Alvas Powell
DM: Diego Chara
CM: Darlington Nagbe
AM: Diego Valeri
LW: Rodney Wallace
CF: Fanendo Adi
RW: Lucas Melano
GK: Steve Clark
LB: Waylon Francis
CB: Gaston Sauro
CB: Michael Parkhurst
RB: Harrison Afful
DM: Wil Trapp
CM: Tony Tchani
AM: Federico Higuain
LW: Justin Meram
CF: Kei Kamara
RW: Ethan Finlay
Last 6 MLS Meetings:
The two teams have met 6 times in their MLS history, and the series is tied at 2 Wins, 2 Losses and 2 Draws.
1x2 3-Way Lines:
Columbus -0.5 +115
Portland +0.5 -135
Total O/U 2.5:
Quick Analysis & Prediction
Let's not forget what happened in the lone meeting between the clubs in the regular season this year.
Portland came to MAPFRE Stadium muddling in a four-game winless run on September 26, and ended up coming away with a 2 - 1 win that started the Timbers run towards the post-season.
The Timbers did lost to Sporting Kansas City the following weekend, but as we know and mentioned, they have taken a result in their last eight games.
The Crew at home are not about to sit back and let Portland predict the pace of the match in their building, so we are about to once again suggest a total in the MLS Cup Finals.
You guessed it my friends!
The Over 2.5 is going on the board again this year as it did last year, and in case you didn't notice the opening line on Monday showed the Over 2.5 at -125.
It is not -125 anymore, and it is roaming around the even money mark, as it has since Thursday. Line moves are certainly worth mentioning, but it will not prevent us from offering the Over 2.5 at -101, which could fluctuate of course as the game approaches.
See you next year, and thank you for being here with us this entire MLS season.
We have been here for you since opening weekend right through the final game, so we hope you took advantage of it, and we will see you soon!