2020 MLS Cup Preview & Prediction: Portland Timbers Pose Playoff Value Behind Obvious Favorites

It took the long way around, but the 2020 Major League Soccer season is approaching its end date, with the bracket decided for this year’s playoffs, which get underway on Friday, November 20.

MLS Cup titleholders the Seattle Sounders (+450) are well fancied to retain their crown after finishing second in the Western Conference, hoping to become the first back-to-back winners since the LA Galaxy in 2011-12:

The defending champions aren’t considered favorites for this year’s title, however; that honor belongs to the Philadelphia Union, who lead the way at +350 with Unibet NJ. The franchise recently won the MLS Supporters’ Shield for the first time after topping the overall table, leading the league in a number of fields, per soccer writer Joe Tansey:

Their superior seeding means the Union will face one of the Montreal Impact, New England Revolution, Nashville SC or Inter Miami in the playoffs first round. The club has already broken new ground in 2020, but only two teams in the past 11 seasons have won both the Supporters’ Shield and the MLS Cup in the same season.

MLS Playoffs: Key Dates

  • First Round: November 21–22, 24
  • Conference Semi-Finals: November 29, December 1–2
  • Conference Finals: December 6
  • MLS Cup: December 12′
  • Free Bets for the USA: bet365 NJ, William Hill CO/IN/IL and BetMGM

Prediction: Portland Timbers to win (+1100)

Those probabilities suggest we’ll see a different name emerge to get their hands on the grand prize, although the Portland Timbers have already won silverware themselves this MLS term.

Manager Giovanni Savarese—a three-time NASL champion with the New York Cosmos—led Portland to the inaugural ‘MLS Is Back’ crown back in August following a 2-1 win over Orlando City in the final:

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Despite finishing third in the Western Conference—level on points with Sporting Kansas City (first) and the Seattle Sounders (second)—Portland look highly priced at +1100 with Unibet. New Jersey bettors may have already seen the Timbers stand up to pressure when they went unbeaten in Florida over the summer, and they have a favorable start to the playoffs against FC Dallas.

Savarese’s side will be pushed after that, with either Seattle of LAFC next on their schedule if they advance to the Western Conference semi-finals, but clearing that hurdle would boost their credentials as a genuine challenger. 

No team scored more than the Timbers this season (46 goals), and the most effective offense in the land will be difficult to stop after losing just two of their last 12 games ahead of the MLS playoffs.

2020 MLS Cup Moneyline Odds

Team

Odds

Philadelphia Union

+350

Seattle Sounders

+450

Los Angeles FC

+500

Orlando City

+600

New York City FC

+700

Toronto FC

+700

Sporting Kansas City

+800

Portland Timbers

+1100

Columbus Crew

+1800

Minnesota United

+3000

FC Dallas

+3300

New England Revolution

+7500

Colorado Rapids

+8000

New York Red Bulls

+10000

Nashville SC

+12500

San Jose Earthquakes

+15000

Inter Miami CF

+20000

Montreal Impact

+20000

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