MLS – Portland Timbers v Philadelphia Union Preview (17/9/16)

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Portland preview

The reigning MLS Cup champions have been all or nothing recently. The Timbers have won 4, but lost 5 of their last 9 matches. It’s been quite a long time since they last drew a game, which isn’t always a bad thing. Unbeaten runs can actually be overrated if they contain too many draws. Portland have won their last three home matches and have a 10-2-3 record at Providence Park this season, which is the second best in the Western Conference. It’s for that reason why they are around the 1.90 mark on a -0.5 asian handicap. Some might say the bookies are being too generous there though. Portland keep clinging onto the playoffs, it feels like they've been in sixth place all season! They need to keep winning in order to cement their place in the postseason.

Philadelphia preview

The Union meanwhile, have been fairly inconsistent. They remain fourth in the Eastern Conference and looked fairly assured of a playoff berth. They are known for being involved in high scoring matches and the last time one of their games ended with less than two goals was way back in early July! Philly will feel they’ve let points slip through their fingers in recent times. They suffered a shock 3-0 loss at Chicago and then dominated Montreal last week, only to succumb to a late equaliser. Perhaps this is a less pressurised fixture for them against an unfamiliar foe. Defeat here wouldn’t drastically affect their position in the Eastern Conference as much. Philly have struggled with midfield injuries recently, and the trio of Brian Carroll, Warren Creavalle & Ken Tribbett could all miss out here.

Conclusion & betting analysis

Portland played in the midweek NACL in Costa Rica, losing 4-2 against Saprissa. So there might be some tired legs and player changeover here. Perhaps it’s a chance for Philly to capitalise. It’s for this reason why I prefer to swerve the -0.5 asian handicap on the hosts. I wouldn’t be surprised if Portland win and still think they probably will, but it feels slightly dangerous to back them. I think the safer play is to take over 2.75 goals. Timbers’ home games are either really high scoring, or end something like 1-0. I’m fairly sure Philly will come here with attacking intent and this should be a good game between two teams who want to play football. There are enough goal scorers at both ends of the field and enough concern at the back for me to back the overs with decent confidence.

Prediction: 3-2
Recommended bet 1 unit: Over 2.75 goals @ 1.86