Massive 3-Way Line Might Beg For Unique Wagering In MLS Final

Kevin Stott

Monday, December 3, 2018 8:45 PM UTC

Monday, Dec. 3, 2018 8:45 PM UTC

Despite Atlanta United FC being at home and having Josef Martínez and Miguel Almirón on their side for Saturday's MLS Cup Final, the gritty Portland Timbers might be able to find a way to win the title.

Kevin's MLS semifinals picks record: 1-1-0
Kevin's MLS October-December picks record: 21-8-1

MLS Cup Final: Portland Timbers (18-10-11) at Atlanta United FC (24-6-8)Saturday, 8 p.m. ET (Fox)Three-Way Odds: ATL -217, PORT +582, DRAW +334 (Bookmaker)Free MLS Cup Pick: Timbers To Win Outright +250Best Line Offered: Intertops

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So it all comes down to one big game, with the Eastern Conference champion Atlanta United earning this big homepitch advantage in the 2018 MLS Cup Final by ousting the New York Red Bulls in the semifinals. And with possibly the two best teammates in MLS history in Golden Boot winner Josef Martínez (34 goals, 10 GWG) and the crafty Miguel Almirón (14 goals, 14 assists), along with veteran GK Brad Guzan, the Five Stripes will be up against it vs. Diego Valeri (15 goals), Sebastián Blanco (14 goals), Samuel Armenteros (8 goals) and the rolling Western Conference champion Timbers, who won on the road against FC Dallas, Seattle and Sporting Kansas City en route to this fabulous winner-take-all point where many might be writing them off.

  • ATLANTA UNITED is 11-4-2 (W-D-L) at home in 2018; 25-8-6 all-time.
  • GERARDO MARTINO coaching last game for ATLANTA UNITED.
  • ATLANTA UNITED 4-0-1 lifetime in postseason (7 GF/2 GA).
  • ATLANTA UNITED 19-3-1 when scoring first.

Looking at the two lifetime meetings between Atlanta and Portland (ATL 1-1 PORT, PORT 1-1 ATL) — they’ve played only twice, with Atlanta United just expanding into the league in 2017 — we see two 1-1 draws with the two sides playing to that scoreline this season in Atlanta on June 24 as Timbers GK Jeff Attinella frustrated Martínez (4 shots, 0 goals) and his teammates as Larrys Mabiala scored for the visitors and Julian Gressel provided the equalizer for the hosts, who went up against a rare 3-5-2 tactical formation employed by Portland head coach Giovanni Savarese.

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#MLSCup is almost here!

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— Major League Soccer🏆 (@MLS) December 3, 2018
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With the odds in this match so high — and likely to possibly get a little higher — it’s too hard to recommend blindly backing big chalks Atlanta United, who on Monday were sitting at as high as -450 at a couple of offshores (Sportsbetting, BetOnline), while others (Pinnacle, Heritage) had the Five Stripes available at a more appropriate -213 in the three-way marketplace.

  • TIMBERS traveling three time zones and 2,593 miles but will be well-rested.
  • TIMBERS are 4-5-8 on the road.
  • TIMBERS won 2015 MLS Cup, beating the Crew 2-1 at Columbus, Ohio.

Even with this being the championship game, this is an affair best not overbet — normal or reduced wager amount — if bet on at all with any perceived value on Atlanta United diluted by the high odds. And with both previous meetings ending 1-1, the perceived value here seems to be on a fearless Timbers squad playing its best soccer of the year and actually the more familiar club when it comes to playing in an MLS Cup Final, having won one on the road three years ago at Columbus. But as we all know eventually, perceived value is nothing compared to actually cashing a winning ticket on a play in sports gambling. Talk is never rewarded at the betting windows. Action is. As it always has been.

This match could end up being tied after 90 minutes and extra time and need penalty kicks, meaning the Draw (+334, Bookmaker) and/or Portland To Win Outright (+250, Intertops) might end up being the wisest bets. Only one of the last five MLS Cups have been decided by two goals (2017, TOR 2 SEA 0) while two have ended in ties and needed PK shootouts with the other two being one-goal games.

The line makes this match seem like a Five Stripes blowout, when in reality, the Timbers will probably be in it all of the way and try to keep on shocking us all as the No. 5 seed and Little Engine That Could tries to win its second MLS Cup in four seasons, with Valeri and Blanco in the midfield and emerging 21-year-old French sensation Jeremy Ebobisse, who suddenly seems more than capable of stealing the spotlight in front of 70,000 in the Big Peach on Saturday night.

Portland's Possible Starting XI: GK Attinella; Villafaña, Ridgewell, Tuiloma, Valentin; Guzmán, Chara; Blanco, Valeri, Polo; Ebobisse.

Atlanta's Possible Starting XI: GK Guzan; Garza, González Pirez, Parkhurst, Larentowicz, Escobar; Almirón, Remedi, Gressel, Nagbe; Martínez.

Referee: Alan Kelly

PREDICTED FINAL SCORE:
Atlanta United FC 1, Portland Timbers 1 (PORTLAND wins 4-3 on PK)

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