Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders Prediction, Preview and Odds -5/9/21
The Portland Timbers play their fourth game of the 2021 MLS season on Sunday afternoon as they play host to the Seattle Sounders from Providence Park. Portland only has three points on the season, a win on April 24th, and are coming off a 4-1 loss to Dallas the last time out in MLS play and a CONCACAF Champions League loss as well. Seattle comes in with seven points, winning 3-0 over the weekend and getting another win in the opener. Last year saw the Timbers finish third in the Western Conference and eighth in the league as a whole, while the Sounders finished second in the Western Conference and made it all the way to the MLS finals before losing in the championship. Which team will get the valuable points from Sunday’s game?
Portland Searching For Winning Track
Portland has made the playoffs in each of the last four years, including a runner-up finish in 2018. The last two seasons have seen Portland find success in the regular season, but fail in the playoffs, bowing out in the first-round in back-to-back seasons. Portland has struggled to find consistency this year, in large part due to the CONCACAF Champions League taking a toll on some of the regulars’ bodies. Overall, Portland has failed to win in three straight games and got demolished by FC Dallas the last time they took the field in an MLS game. That game saw Portland only get out-shot 11-10 overall and 6-2 on shots-on-goal, but Dallas was able to finish their chances strongly. Dallas also had 59 percent possession and Portland just isn’t built for a game of chasing the ball around the field and sitting back. Portland’s best performance of the season came all the way back in April in a 2-1 win over Houston.
Portland has a unique combination of depth and experience, especially upfront, which makes them a difficult team to outscore, especially when they’re at home. Last year saw Diego Valeri and Jeremy Ebobisse tie in the team lead in goals, with nine apiece. For Valeri, it was the third time in four years that he led the team in scoring and his experience and ability to link up with Ebobisse has been crucial in the youngster’s development. As if Valeri wasn’t enough, the Timbers have a midfield filled with depth and talent, spearheaded by Diego Chara. The Timbers have the ability to be disruptive in the midfield against a balanced Seattle attack, but will need a clinical day of finishing to stay in the game.
One issue for Portland has been the youth development, as their academy is one of the weaker set ups in the game. Eryk Williamson is a young player with great promise, but the first few weeks have been slow for him after a strong 2020. The team only has two other homegrowns even on the roster and it doesn’t look like an area of interest for the club in the near future.
Sounders Find Themselves Clicking
Seattle seems to have fresh legs in the early going here and while playing the additional games might be beneficial for some teams, the Sounders likely wouldn’t change a thing for how their season has gone so far. Last weekend saw them get a dominant 3-0 win over the Galaxy, dominating from start to finish, outshooting LA 17-10 overall and 9-2 for shots-on-goal. Prior to that Seattle tied LAFC on the road in an evenly played game and they looked amazing in the season opener. In the opener the Sounders won 4-0 behind a strong exhibition of clinical finishing by the Sounders frontline.
In the season, the Sounders have Raul Ruidiaz with four goals already in only three games, while Brad Smith has two himself. The team lost Jordan Morris to England in the offseason, but haven’t struggled to score in his absence quite yet. Ruidiaz has been the team’s leading scorer for each of the last three years, and that shows no signs of changing this year. Seattle still has one of the best supporting casts in the league, whether it’s Christian Roldan in the midfield or the veterans, Will Bruin or Kelyn Row up front or on the wings to make things interesting.
The Sounders pipeline isn't as strong as some of their counterparts, especially those in the Eastern Conference, but still has a much fuller cabinet than the Timbers do. Seattle has four homegrowns themselves right now, and it’s expected that as the season progresses, one or two of these guys will get the chance to play consistent minutes. Seattle elected to avoid the draft, as most successful teams seem to be doing of late, and focusing their efforts on the team at hand.
Side: Seattle (+140)
The schedule has made life difficult for Portland this year and while they’ll be the home team, they’re still dealing with little knocks and lack of legs, that will likely be their downfall against a team as strong as Seattle. The Sounders have the best offense in soccer right now, as shown by their goal-scoring ability this season, and the Timbers backline will struggle to stop Ruidiaz and company. For as good as the Seattle offense has been, their defense has also been strong this year, consistently finding ways to limit the quality chances of their opposition. Part of soccer is the confidence and momentum that goes with finishing your opportunities, and Seattle has that at a high and near-elite level right now. The Sounders will look great on the road and come away with a win in the first game of the season against their rival.
Total: Under 3
Portland will struggle to score in general, and while Seattle will surely score, they won’t fill up the scoreboard with a crooked number being that they’re on the road. In the last five games between these two teams, there have only been 12 goals scored, a little over two per game. From a betting standpoint, betting under three goals would win in each of last year’s matchups, and would win or push in each of the last five games overall.