After regaining the winning thread last time out, Portland Timbers will be looking for another victory when they host the Seattle Sounders at Providence Park on Sunday evening.
These west-coast rivals have played out some tight games in recent times, with two of the last three ended all square. When the pair last met, which was three months ago, Seattle won by two goals to one at this venue. The hosts are now without a win in three against Sunday’s opponents.
Portland Timbers – Home comforts
The campaign hasn’t exactly gone swimmingly for Portland, who currently sit sixth in the Western Conference standings, ten points behind Seattle. That said, after suffering back-to-back losses at the end of the last month, the Timbers have picked themselves up and delivered a couple of respectable results of late. A draw against San Jose was followed by a win, in which they scored three goals, against Real Salt Lake.
One thing that is worrying is the defence of the home team. Giovanni Savarese’s men haven’t kept a clean sheet in any of their last five matches, conceding two or more in three of those. More worryingly, they’ve kept just one clean sheet all season!
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Seattle Sounders – Visitors out of form
For a long time, the Seattle Sounders were the model of consistency. They went from the beginning of the campaign until July without losing, but since coming up short against Minnesota last month, things have gone cold for Brian Schmetzer’s MLS Cup final regulars, which is why they have been overtaken at the top of the Western Conference by SKC. The visitors are without a win in three, two of which they’ve lost, while they’ve now won just one out of their last five.
Fortunately, as visiting records go, Seattle’s is strong. Just one loss in seven suggests that they’re a team that is hard to beat when playing on their travels, while they already have the positive experience of winning in Portland this season.
Expert Pick #1 – Seattle Sounders to Win @+190
The Seattle Sounders don’t arrive here in excellent form, but if we look beyond pure results, the visitors stand out as a viable bet at the available odds. For starters, if we dig into the last few home games Portland have had, while the results haven’t been poor at all, their efforts haven’t been great. They created less than their visitors last time out when winning a tad fortunately, while the fact that they were unable to beat a San Jose side that also out-created the Providence Park side doesn’t exactly paint the hosts in the most flattering light. Portland have been defeated in terms of expected goals in each of their last six at home, so it would not be a surprise if their unbeaten run (at home) was to end soon.
Additionally, Seattle have performed well on the road, winning four out of their last six, while they’re the best team in the Western Conference in terms of points per game away from home. Add in that they have an average expected goals supremacy of +0.74 over their hosts and a bet on the visitors to emerge victorious is worthwhile.
Expert Pick #2 – Under 2.5 Goals @+100
As a secondary option, ‘Under 2.5 Goals’ catches the eye. There hasn’t really been a shortage of goals in Portland’s recent home games, but again, if we look beyond results, it’s easy to feel that a low-scoring game is slightly more likely to occur than the current prices would have us believe.
Moreover, and this is crucial, the Seattle Sounders have often restricted teams on the road, while looking to play conservatively, rather than freely. As a result, each of their last three away games have contained less than three goals.
Expert Pick #3 – Raul Ruidiaz to Score @+145
A final pick worth consideration is Seattle’s main man getting on the score-sheet (again!). The Mexican has been in typical hot form in front of goal this season, scoring 11 times. Not only does he find the net with regularity, but he averages 0.64 expected goals per 90, which is high. The forward also gets plenty of shots off, averaging 3.39 per match, so it would be little surprise if he enjoyed himself against a Portland defense that doesn’t keep many clean sheets.
Recent form may point towards a home win, but there’s been quite a bit to like about the way Seattle have done things in low-key style on the road, and their superior defence should hold them in good stead at Providence Park, so much so that their chances of grinding out the win, as they often have done, appear to be a tiny bit greater than the odds suggest. Punters can profit by betting on the Sounders to edge ahead in Portland.