MLS Cup Championship Soccer Picks: Back Portland to Get a Historic Win vs. Columbus

Kevin Stott

Wednesday, December 2, 2015 7:41 PM UTC

Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015 7:41 PM UTC

Columbus Crew face Portland Timbers in a MLS Cup Championship matchup. Join in on the fun and find out the best soccer picks for this game while breaking down the soccer odds.

Nat Borchers and the Western Conference champion Portland Timbers head to MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus on Sunday afternoon to face Kei Kamara and the Eastern Conference champion Columbus Crew in the 2015 MLS Cup Championship game. So is it worth a shot on the live underdog Timbers who have gone unbeaten in their L8 and won 2-1 here over the prolific Crew earlier this season? You bet and we have that pick and some others in this game seemingly worth looking into before the weekend in what looks like a toss-up match.


Odds Overview 
Columbus Crew vs. Portland Timbers: This is it, the Championship Game for the MLS season, and unlike many Professional Sports where there is a best-of-X number of games series format or a neutral site where the game is played for all of the league’s marbles, the MLS Cup title tilt will see the Eastern Conference representative Columbus Crew (15-11-8) get to play at Home at MAPFRE Stadium on Sunday afternoon against the Western Conference’s Portland Timbers (15-11-8) to see who the league’s new champs are in this 20th MLS Cup Final. Soccer odds have the host Crew solid +100 favorites here over visiting Portland (+260) with the Draw priced at +250 (Bet365). The Total Goals here has been set at 2½, with the vigorish priced at -175 for prospective Over bettors and at +100 for Under bettors (Bet365). Some Props wagers for this game from the capital of Ohio: Both Teams To Score: ‘Yes’ -150, ‘No’ +125 (BetVictor); Draw No Bet: Crew -275, Timbers +162 (Bet365); and, To Lift To Trophy: Crew -187, Timbers +137 (Bet365).


Portland Timbers FC
It might not look like it on Paper or your Computer or your obligatory Mobile Device, but the Portland Timbers (7-2-8 Road, 18 GF-26 GA) and Head Coach Caleb Porter were pretty good on the Road this season, winning 7 games (Tied for #1 in MLS) and racking up 23 Points (#2) by scoring 18 Goals (Tied #8) and allowing 26 (#8) outside of Oregon, a state where Bigfoot craps where he pleases and pays no taxes. So D Nat Borchers and the Timbers—and if there were ever a player who looked like a Lumberjack and should be the face of a franchise, it’s Borchers for these Timbers who saw logs after Goals at Home games—who will be making their first MLS Cup Championship appearance after making it to the Western Conference Finals in 2013. In Leg 2 of the Western Finals at FC Dallas on Sunday (2-2), Timbers Head Coach Porter started GK Adam Kwarasey; D Alvas Powell, D Nat Borchers, D Jorge Villafaña, D Norberto Paparatto; MF Diego Chará, MF Diego Valeri, MF Darlington Nagbe, MF Diego Chará; F Fanendo Adi (18 goals, scored Goal vs FCD on Sunday), F Dairon Asprilla and F Rodney Wallace. Substitute F Lucas Melano had the Timbers (+2 GD) other score and with guys like Jack Jewsbury, Will Johnson, Maximiliano Urudi and Melano coming in off the bench, this team can hang with anyone right now with this Roster and this Confidence and Porter, the Rose City and this entire franchise should be extremely proud of where there are at this moment in Time.


Columbus Crew SC
The Columbus Crew (9-4-4 Home, 38 GF-25 GA) and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter had a dream start to Leg 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, getting a weird bounce of a header by a New York Red Bulls Defender to score just 10 seconds off the opening kick which led to a Justin Meram goal and an early 1-0 lead and some No Looking Back. Columbus, which finished 2nd in the conference behind the Red Bulls, eventually ousted RBNY, 2-1 on aggregate, holding on as a last-second Injury Time header by Bradley Wright-Phillips trickled helplessly off the right post. The Crew topped Didier Drogba and the Montreal Impact 5-4 in the previous round and the combined 63 Goals scored in Columbus’s 17 Home games averaged a robust 3.71 gpg, meaning games played in MAPFRE Stadium—which looks like a tight confines type stadium compared to something that looks pretty big on TV like Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ, home of RBNY, does—tend to be really high-scoring affairs. Of course, having the MLS’s leading scorer in F Kai Kama (25 goals) and running mate Ethan Finley (13 goals) as well as guys like Federico Higuaín (9 goals) and Justin Meram (7 goals) doesn’t hurt either. In Leg 2 at RBNY last Sunday, Crew Head Coach Gregg Berhalter (0-1-1 vs. Timbers) had a starting XI of: GK Steve Clark; D Michael Parkhurst, D Waylon Francis, D Gastón Sauro, D Harrison Afful; MF Tony Tchani (5 goals), MF Justin Meram (4 goals), MF Federico Higuain (7 goals), MF Wil Trapp, MF Ethan Finlay (8 goals); and, of course, 30-year-old Sierra Leonean F superstar and aforementioned scoring machine Kamara. This team has a talented attack force and can score with the best of them, worth noting in the context of both the BTTS and Totals (Over) picks.


Current Form, Series Trends, Conclusions
Both clubs are somewhat a little bit lucky to have gotten through to this MLS Cup Championship Game with one key game or series—SKC for the Timbers (W 7-6 in PK Shootout), Montreal for the Crew (W 5-4 aggregate)—being the Close Call these respective teams survived. Much like Life itself, eh Papa Bear? Lifetime, this series is a dead even 2-2-2 in the 6 meetings—all in MLS play—with both teams having scored 6 goals apiece heading in here. Here in Columbus at MAPFRE Stadium, the Timbers are 1-0-2 (3 GF-4 GA) with Portland winning 2-1 here in their last meeting this Regular Season. So why does it seem Wise to take a shot on the Timbers here? A couple of reasons. First, they already beat the Crew here in Columbus earlier this season, 2-1 on Matchday 7, so Columbus won’t be the least bit scared or unfamiliar with the distant site (The Timbers will lose 3 Body Clock Hours though, flying from Washington and PT to Ohio and ET). Second, Portland is the hottest club in the MLS now and riding in here on the heels of an 8-game Unbeaten Streak (Form: W-W-W-D-D-D-W-W-D) in which the Timbers have outscored opponents, 20-8. And Portland was playing pretty good before this nice little streak started after a Loss to Sporting KC. Third, that value-laden price. At +278 we’re in the “Are you kidding me territory?” And for a Dude who prefers and sides with Favorites probably 80% of the time, when a Dog looks this good to me I hop online and order a new Purple Leash. Woof.

As far as the Weather forecast for Columbus here on Sunday afternoon, The Weather Channel is calling for Mostly Sunny Skies, a High temperature of 51° (Fahrenheit)—not bad at all for you who breathe Celsius (10.55° C)—with light and variable Winds (WSW 4 mph), 63% Humidity. The game is scheduled to start a little after 4 p.m. (EST) and with Sunset at 5:08 p.m. on Sunday evening, and freezing 32° temperatures predicted for Sunday night, the Cold will be a small factor, especially in the 2nd Half when Mr. Sun says adios one more night. But with Kamara and Finley and Adi, it seems there will be at least one goal in the 1st Half and a frenzied pace with so much at stake. The 2-1 Timbers scoreline from the Regular Season and only meeting this year could definitely occurred again here with this driven Timbers team who is the best team to end up here and not be affected by the Home Columbus site. And when it is Cold, the guys from the Pacific Northwest will be ready for it. This game seems loaded with perceived value from the live underdog Portland POV, especially the Draw No Bet odds for the Timbers which are priced at +162 at Bet365. This is where you gamble a little bit for a moderate amount with some nice pluses and hope against a 1-0 or 2-0 Crew final. This should be fun and historic if Portland can capture its first MLS title. Grab them for your soccer picks

PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: Portland Timbers 2 Columbus Crew 1
FREE MLS CUP CHAMPIONSHIP PICKS: Timbers Draw No Bet +162 (Bet365), Timbers +260 (Bet365), Over 2½ -125 (Bet365), Both Teams To Score ‘Yes’ -150 (BetVictor), Timbers To Lift Trophy +137 (Bet365)

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