By: Matt Watkins
MLS Odds: MLS Is Back Tournament – Saturday-Sunday Knockout Matches
Right, that group stage turned on its ear fast. From a Josef Martinez-less Atlanta United going scoreless in three games to a complete breakdown on the defensive end by the LA Galaxy to NYCFC just not finding any rhythm, the MLS is Back Tournament certainly kept us on our toes. Honestly, you combine all of the above with surprise performances by consistent bottom-dwellers, and much of what we expected in the MLS is Back Tournament never materialized.
What that leaves us with, however, may be even more intriguing. As we enter the knockout stage, some of the traditional favorites are already gone, which, while we may have less name brand recognition, gives exciting matchups among teams that don’t often see the spotlight. Take the first game of the knockout stage…
(Note: All times listed are EST)
MLS is Back Tournament Betting Predictions: Saturday Knockout Stage
MLS Knockout Stage Odds: Orlando City vs. Montreal Impact – Saturday, July 25, 8:00 p.m.
Line: Orlando City -106, Montreal +250
Hands up who saw this coming? Even the guy who always says he predicted what no one else expected can’t volunteer he saw both of these squads coming out of the group stage. Part of the reason no one expected Orlando City and Montreal advancing is they both returned nearly the exact same rosters as the ones that finished ninth and 11th in the Eastern Conference in 2019.
But with coaching changes come new voices and new attitudes and both teams displayed them in the group stage. Orlando City went 2-0-1 and won the group thanks to goal differential against Philadelphia. Meanwhile, Montreal played a couple tough losses before coming together in its final group stage game, beating DC before and advancing as a wild card.
MLS is Back Knockout Stage Betting Prediction: Orlando City 2, Montreal 0. Orlando City has looked to be the better team in the tournament overall and has the better talent level. Add in that they have three men running into the box on almost every attack and it’s a lot to ask a somewhat undisciplined back line to handle. They almost beat Philly with it, they will be Montreal with it.
Confidence level: 8/10.
Philadelphia Union vs. New England Revolution – Saturday, July 25, 10:30 p.m.
Line: Philadelphia +150, New England +150
Two teams that most people expected to be here, but maybe not necessarily how. Coming into the tournament, Philadelphia was supposed to rely on its offense and get enough from the back line and in goal to be able to advance. The Philly offense has yet to come around, though they did look a much more cohesive unit at times against Orlando City. Meanwhile, New England has conceded just one goal in the tournament, even though they, too, were supposed to score.
This tournament was supposed to serve as the coming out party for the Union who some picked to win the whole thing and fulfill the promise of recent years. Despite tying for the second most points in the group stage, it hasn’t looked dominant and this match against the Revs could be the biggest test Philly faces. One big help for the Union will be the return of Jose Martinez from suspension.
MLS is Back Knockout Stage Betting Prediction: Philadelphia 2, New England 1. This may be the toughest match to pick in the knockout stage. Both teams have a good attack that hasn’t shown up. Philadelphia had some back line lapses against Orlando City that it cannot afford against New England and has had to rely on Andre Blake a little too much.
If New England scores early, it could turn the game on its ear. In the end, though, we’re going with recent experience that the Union has in both the 2018 US Open Cup and the 2019 MLS playoffs. Philadelphia has also fairly well owned the Revolution, going 7-1-2 in the last 10 matches between the squads with a +16 goal differential.
Confidence level: 5/10.
MLS is Back Tournament Betting Predictions: Sunday Knockout Stage
Toronto FC vs. NYCFC – Sunday, July 26, 8:30 p.m.
Line: Not set as of 5:30 a.m. EST
Again, two teams that people expected to be here, but one that did not arrive in knockout as planned. Toronto picked up every bit the same part it played in last year’s MLS Cup, winning group C, posting matches of two and four goals before taking its foot off the gas in the final group game when it already knew heading into the contest it was through.
Meanwhile, no one predicted the downfall of NYCFC who mustered just two goals in the group stage after showing a dominating offense last season and returning a majority of its weapons. They have looked out of sync and quite frankly snippy with each other on the pitch. That sort of internal crankiness is generally not good for long playoff runs.
MLS is Back Knockout Stage Betting Prediction for Sunday: Toronto 3, NYCFC 0. Ok, maybe NYCFC will get on the board with one, but even if they take an early lead, this is a match between two teams that are in opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to their level of play. Toronto is doing exactly what it is supposed to and NYCFC hasn’t been able to get out of its own way. The result should bear that out.
Confidence level: 9/10.
Sporting KC vs. Vancouver – Sunday, July 26, 11:00 p.m.
Line: Not set as of 5:30 a.m. EST
Vancouver showed us why wins, or a single win, not draws get you past group stages. Entering the final match of Group B, the Whitecaps had played, pretty much exactly as you’d expect in the tournament: 0-2-0, scoring three times and conceding seven. But then a victory against Chicago and they’re in position to advance, which they did as the last team through.
I know there are those who may say you shouldn’t be able to win just one match and go through, but they also did make it on the goals for tiebreaker, so the Caps first two matches did have something to do with it. Still…yeah.
Meanwhile, Sporting KC started off with a loss against Minnesota FC in what was one of the best early matches of the tournament before scoring multiple times each against Colorado and Real Salt Lake to advance as the Group D winner. They’re exactly who we thought they’d be at the beginning of this tournament, a potentially potent offense with an efficient defense.
MLS is Back Knockout Stage Betting Prediction for Sunday: Sporting KC 3, Vancouver 0. Unlike our previous 3-0 prediction, it doesn’t feel like we may be shortchanging Vancouver to say it might not score here. It also doesn’t seem out of the question for KC to post more than three goals against a Whitecaps team that conceded seven goals in its first two matches before Chicago inexplicably fell apart when it needed just a single point to advance.
Confidence level: 9.5/10… I’d say my confidence would be 10/10, but stranger things have happened in sports. I mean, 15 seeds beat two-seeds every couple of years in the NCAA Tournament. End of the day, though, whatever the line comes out to be on this match, go with KC. The only holdback is the ROI if you have to lay $300+ to win back $100, but it’s as close to an investment as opposed to a wager that you may get in this round.