Portland Timbers defender Claudio Bravo (5) holds the Western Conference cup following his team’s 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake in the MLS soccer Western Conference final Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Amanda Loman)
- The 2021 MLS Cup Final will kick-off at 3:00 pm EST on Saturday, December 11, 2021
- New York City FC are slight road favorites to win their first MLS Cup
- Read on for your preview and best bet for the match below
Providence Park in Portland, Oregon will host its’ first-ever MLS Cup Final on Saturday at 3:00 pm EST. This year’s final features two number four seeds with Portland vs New York City FC meeting in the final. Portland has reached the final on two previous occasions, winning in 2015. While this will be NYCFC’s first chance at raising the cup.
Portland vs New York MLS Cup Odds
|Matchup||Spread||Moneyline||Total||To Lift Trophy|
|Portland vs NYCFC||POR +0.5 (+180) | NYC -0.5 (+165)||POR +180 | DRAW +230 | NYC +165||Ov 2.5 (+105) | Un 2.5 (-130)||POR -106 | NYC -125|
Odds as of December 10 at DraftKings
Portland Timbers Look to Trophy on Home Soil
The Timbers seem to always find themselves in contention for MLS Cup. In 2015 they lifted the trophy after defeating the Columbus Crew 2-1 on the road at MAPFRE Stadium. They reached the final again in 2018, this time coming up short 2-0, playing in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. When it comes to trophies, the Timbers were MLS Is Back champs in the league’s return-to-play tournament coming out of the COVID-19 lockdown last summer in Orlando.
So this time, they’ll look to take advantage of their strong home support in an effort to win their second MLS Cup.
No team in the West had a better home record than Portland. They finished 11-2-4 with 35 points on their home soil. Only New England (39 points) and Philadelphia (36) collected more home points in MLS overall.
In Portland’s last nine home matches they are 8-0-1 and have outscored their opponents 21-6. Two of those home wins have come during the playoffs.
Portland played host to Minnesota in round one, winning 3-1. They then traveled to Colorado in the Western semifinals and won 1-0. Then last week they were 2-0 winners over RSL at home. Coming into the final they’ve now won six straight.
Last week’s win was more impressive considering they were without the services of Sebastian Blanco, who injured his hamstring in the Colorado match. They were also without Dairon Asprilla who received a red card against the Rapids. Asprilla should feature on Saturday in some capacity. Portland backers will be sweating the fitness of Blanco, who said he feels ready to go. “I am ready, I feel ok, I feel good,” stated the Timbers’ star when asked on his injury status. And images from training do look promising.
— Area Sports Network (@AreaSportsNet) December 9, 2021
NYCFC Into First MLS Cup Final
Ronny Deila’s New York City have been streaky this season. They began the campaign with just five wins in their opening 12 matches. They then went 6-3-3 in the next 12. A total of zero wins in their next six followed that. But, they finished the regular season with wins in three of four and being undefeated in five. After three playoff wins, they reach the MLS Cup now undefeated in eight.
Along the way, striker Taty Castellanos claimed this year’s Golden Boot Award by scoring 19 goals. Castellanos is hot. Or was, prior to missing last week’s Eastern Final after being sent off against the New England Revolution the match prior. He scored in that match and has now scored in each of his past six matches for a total of eight goals.
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) December 10, 2021
New York’s playoff path has seen them defeat Atlanta 2-0 at home in round one. They needed penalties to defeat the Supporters’ Shield winning Revs after finishing extra-time level 2-2. Then last week they fell behind 1-0 to Philadelphia from an own goal in the 63′ minute. But goals from Maxi Moralez (65′) and by youngster Talles Magno (88′) sent them into their first final.
A win is a win, however, New York no doubt benefitted from the Union being without the services of 11 players due to COVID-19. The situation was so dire Philly needed to add three players to their roster on last Saturday for Sunday’s match. They were also without each of their top two goalkeepers and center-backs.
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) December 9, 2021
While Castellanos will return from suspension, New York’s key injuries this weekend include RB Anton Tinnerholm and CM Keaton Parks. NYCFC will be playing on a day less rest, as Portland’s conference final match was played on Saturday, versus New York’s on Sunday.
Portland vs New York Regular Season Stats
|17-4-13||MLS Regular Season Record (WDL)||14-9-11|
|4th (West)||Position||4th (East)|
|440 (16th) / 143 (17th)||Shots / On Target||512 (2nd) / 181 (1st)|
Head-to-Head, Tactics and Key Portland vs New York Stats
Portland always seem to be in the mix of contenders and Providence Park will be rocking come Saturday. New York City, now in their seventh year in MLS have been building towards this for years. The fact it’s taken them this long to make the final has to be a dissapointment for NYCFC fans. They missed the playoffs in 2015, before reaching the quarterfinals in each of the next four years. Then last year exited in round one.
These teams didn’t meet during this year’s regular season. Their last meeting came over a year ago in the MLS Is Back Quarterfinals where Portland won 3-1. Jesus Medina gave NYC the early lead before Blanco, Diego Valeri and Andy Polo all tallied to send Portland to the semis.
NYCFC will have the possession in this game. They average the fifth-most possession per game this season at 53.5-percent. In their past 12 matches, they’ve held over 50-percent possession in seven games. They’ve held over 60-percent in four of those. Portland possesses the ball the least overall at 44.9-percent. They’ve held more than 50-percent possession just once in their past 12 matches.
That generally suits Portland just fine. They’re strong in both set-piece defense and set-piece offense. Playing on the counter with plenty of speed has been a formula that works.
whether it’s one other person’s shoulders beside you,
or 11 on the green,
or 25,000 large and loud and loving in the stands…
— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) December 10, 2021
We’ve already touched on Portland’s impressive home form. But it’s also impressive that they’ve scored in each of their past 14 at home. And also in 19 of their past 20. In ten of their past 11 at Providence Park they’ve scored multiple goals. It seems very hard to envision an outcome where Portland doesn’t find the back of the net.
While Portland’s defense has tightened up towards the backend of the season—they’ve kept clean sheets in four of six at home and also four of six overall, RSL was the only playoff team to allow more goals on the season than the Timbers. Portland matches were 22-12 to Over 2.5 goals this year. Meanwhile, NYCFC was an even 17-17.
New York took the most shots this season in MLS, and landed the second-most on target. They’ve scored in each of their past eight matches and will have a fresh Castellanos eager to make amends for his sending off in the conference semis. NYCFC have 17 goals in their past seven matches. Portland will be hard-pressed to keep the likes of Castellanos, Medina, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, Moralez and Heber quiet.
Lots of quality in #MLSCup…
Any changes you’d make to this Combined XI? pic.twitter.com/sWWYQSMYD8
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) December 9, 2021
Portland Timbers vs NYCFC Best Bet
Home field has played a major role in recent MLS Cup Finals. Eight of the past ten have been won by the home team and each of the past four. One of those two road wins actually came from Portland in 2015. Scorelines rarely get out of hand in MLS Cup Finals. The past two ended 3-0 and 3-1. But the past ten have been 5-5 when it comes to a 2.5 goal totals and betting the over/under. In 25 past finals, only twice (2002 & 2016) did the score end 0-0 in regulation. Only 2016’s final made it scoreless until penalties.
This is a final, but remember it’s still just one game just like any other. I think simply backing both teams to score at -135 odds (can be found at -125 if you shop around) is a great bet without picking an outright winner. I have a ticket on Portland at +2000 odds to win MLS Cup from pre-season. And while a New York upset is not inconceivable by any means, based on experience, home-field and the extra rest, I’d still back the Timbers to lift MLS Cup on Saturday.
Pick: Both Teams to Score (-135) / Portland to Lift Trophy (-106)