By: Matt Watkins
MLS is Back Tournament Odds and Quarterfinal Matches Betting Picks and Predictions
The MLS is Back Tournament certainly hasn’t lacked for drama. With teams that weren’t expected to pull a point advancing past the group stage, we expected a bit of return to normalcy in the knockout stage.
While most of the better teams advanced, it wasn’t without some severe challenges from the upstarts. Time to look at the quarterfinals.
MLS is Back Tournament Quarterfinal Betting Predictions
(Note: All times listed are EST)
Philadelphia Union vs. Sporting KC – Thursday, July 30, 8:00 p.m.
Line: Philadelphia +280, Sporting KC -106
Two of the teams that were lumped into the darkhorse category entering the tournament meet in the quarterfinals, with neither looking very good in getting there. The Union were first up and used a strong defensive effort as well as a resurgent Andre Blake in net in order to eke out a 1-0 win against New England. Philly has conceded just two goals in four matches in the MLS bubble, in large part to the play of Blake who has the most saves in the tournament.
Meanwhile, KC was nearly the victim of the biggest upset as despite a decisive shot and possession advantage against Vancouver, Sporting was held off the board and had to survive penalty kicks in order to advance. KC has shown flashes in the tournament, but for the most part, hasn’t played up to potential.
At their best, they can be dominant, as evidenced by the two wins to start play in 2020 before the season paused. At their worst, they still have the talent to compete, but as the competition gets tougher, they’ll need more of early 2020 and less of what we’ve seen so far in July.
Competition History: They two teams are 6-6-5 against each other in 17 total clashes. The Union holds a 22-20 goal advantage in those contests. They have played one time previously in a knockout event with KC advancing 7-6 on penalty kicks in the 2015 U.S. Open Cup finals.
Philadelphia Union vs. Sporting KC Betting Prediction: Philadelphia 2, Sporting KC 1.
We haven’t picked too many upsets in this tournament but given the uneven play of Sporting through its first four matches, it’s difficult to go into any of its matches with much confidence. KC will get off its shots, registering 37 against Vancouver, but only eight of those went on goal.
Mark McKenzie, Jack Elliot, and the rest of the Union defense will need to make sure there aren’t any lapses on the back line, but the way the Union has counterattacked this tournament, Sporting’s aggressiveness may actually be the key to a Philadelphia victory.
Confidence level: 5/10.
Orlando City vs. LAFC MLS is Back Tournament Betting Prediction
Orlando City vs. LAFC – Friday, July 31, 7:30 p.m.
Line: Orlando City +220, LAFC -110
The “home” team of the MLS is Back Tournament keeps chugging along. It wasn’t the prettiest win against Montreal, but the Lions were never seriously threatened in the match and held control all the way. The turnaround for Orlando City is really remarkable given that it’s nearly the same roster from last year.
Manager Oscar Pareja attention to detail has the team playing to potential and believing in itself. When the tournament run ends for Orlando, rest assured the squad that leaves the field will have given its opponent all it can handle.
If you remember from our group stage preview, about LAFC we said “they don’t just beat you, they take away your will to live.” After a stumble against Houston with a draw in its opening match, the Black and Gold had chugged along with methodical efficiency. Diego Rossi has been brilliant as the focal point of the offense in the absence of Carlos Vela. Nothing should change here.
Match/Competition History: LAFC holds a 1-0-1 advantage against Orlando City and has a 6-3 edge in goals.
Orlando City vs. LAFC Betting Prediction: LAFC 3, Orlando City 1.
The Lions may make this one closer, but at the end of the day, LAFC is just too talented, too strong, and too hungry after last year’s early postseason exit. It needs to prove it is a, if not THE dominant force in MLS before it gets a reputation of regular season success preceding postseason failure.
Confidence level: 8/10.
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Minnesota FC MLS is Back Tournament Betting Prediction
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Minnesota FC – Saturday, August 1, 8:00 p.m.
Line: Not set as of 8:00 a.m. on July 29
Midway through the group stage, Minnesota showed why it had started 2020 in such strong fashion and carried it into the Round of 16. FC scored the first goal of the tournament against Columbus early in the contest, fought through a ferocious second half attack by the Crew, and eventually emerged in penalties. When playing well, it’s hard to deny Minnesota, a fact that we learned all too harshly by picking against the squad in the first knockout match.
Meanwhile, San Jose battled against Real Salt Lake through the first half before an early second half PK led to a 5-2 victory. The Quakes are another team in this tournament who, when things go well, the offense fires as its capable, can do some damage. They can be inconsistent, though, which in a knockout stage generally doesn’t bode well for deep runs.
Match/Competition History: San Jose leads 4-3-0. It’s been a tale of two seasons (each) however. In 2017, 2018, the Earthquakes went 4-0-0 against Minnesota. Since the beginning of 2019, FC is 3-0-0 against San Jose, including a win on March 8 this year, outscoring SJ 11-3 in the process.
Minnesota FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes Betting Prediction: Minnesota 4, San Jose 2. Minnesota’s ability to vary its attack will be too much for the Earthquakes in the end. The score may be a bit inflated over what the final line will actually be, but I’ll be among those thoroughly shocked if San Jose advances through this one.
Confidence level: 8.5/10.
Portland Timbers vs. NYCFC MLS is Back Tournament Betting Prediction
Portland Timbers vs. NYCFC – Saturday, August 1, 10:30 p.m.
Line: Not set as of 8:00 a.m. on July 29
Well hi, NYCFC, nice of you to finally show up to the tournament! After losing its first two group matches and then scraping by with a victory against Miami, NYCFC had to wait through several days of competition and get a perfect set of results. It did and made it into the knockout stage as the final team.
Playing free and easy, they pretty well dismantled pre-tournament favorite Toronto, who didn’t seem prepared for what NYCFC had to offer. The result, Toronto is wondering what if and NYCFC marches on.
Meanwhile, in the last match of the Round of 16, much like Toronto did with NYCFC, Portland also took its opponent too lightly. Fortunately for the remaining entrant from the Pacific Northwest, FC Cincinnati is nowhere near the level of NYCFC and the Timbers were able to escape in penalties. A better effort will be needed in the quarters.
Match/Competition History: Portland leads the series 4-1-0 and holds a 7-2 advantage in scoring. The Timbers have blanked NYCFC in all four wins.
Portland Timbers vs. NYCFC Betting Prediction: NYCFC 2, Portland 1.
Make no mistake, Portland will watch the tape and not be surprised, but if the boys from the Bronx can play as they did against Toronto and in last year’s regular season, this could very well be the match that gets it on track and shoots it into the finals. That said, this is an incredibly difficult match to forecast and could very well go either way.
Confidence level: 3/10.