MLS is Back Semifinals August 5

Portland Timbers celebrating

The Portland Timbers are +140 favorites to defeat the Philadelphia Union in their MLS Is Back semifinal on Wednesday. Photo by: @TimbersFC (Twitter).

  • The Portland Timbers are +140 favorites over the Philadelphia Union in Wednesday’s MLS Is Back Tournament semifinal
  • Philly has lost four straight to Portland. Can they snap their losing skid?
  • Analysis of the odds and predictions for the outcome as to which side is heading to the final follow in the story below

The Portland Timber might be the more fashionable side but everyone has someone in their group of friends just like the Philadelphia Union.

They aren’t the most accomplished person, are certainly not the best looking and really don’t draw all that much attention to themselves.

Most of the time, what they have to offer probably gets overlooked. But when times are tough, when things get difficult, they can always be counted on to deliver the goods.

That’s the rep that the Union are fortifying as the MLS Is Back Tournament gets down to the final four. Yet even though Philadelphia keeps coming out ahead, the bookmakers keep laying odds against the Union.

The Timbers open as the +140 favorites to win Wednesday’s semifinal match over Philly.

Philadelphia vs Portland Aug. 5 Odds

Team Moneyline Odds at DraftKings
Philadelphia Union +170
Portland Timbers +140
Draw +255

Odds taken Aug. 3. For more betting options visit DraftKings.

The Union are the +170 underdogs, just as they were the second betting choice heading into their quarterfinal triumph over Sporting KC.

Union Earning Their Due

A 3-1 verdict over Sporting KC played out much like Philly’s 1-0 Round of 16 triumph over the New England Revolution. The Union endured long periods of the match where the other side carried the play. In both instances, though, Philadelphia proved a master of the counter attack.

Against SKC, the Union potted all three of their goals during a 15-minute stretch of the first half when they capitalized on virtually every chance offered them. Philly produced one goal from a fine team effort but the other two were registered against the flow of play when Jamiro Monteiro finished off a Alejandro Bedoya square ball.

Philadelphia pounced off a Sporting KC set piece to send the ball quickly the other way for a breakaway goal by Sergio Santos. The Union completed their scoring again via counter attack. They transitioned the ball quickly from a failed Sporting KC corner kick, catching the SKC defense flat footed.

Santos finished off for his second goal of the match and the third in two games by the Brazilian striker.

Timbers Chop Down NYCFC

Portland rallied from an early deficit to defeat New York City FC, also by a 3-1 count. Jesus Medina spotted NYCFC an early lead on a penalty kick. Sebastian Blanco tied the score before halftime.

In the second half, goals by substitutes Diego Valeri and Andy Polo pushed the Timbers into the semifinals.

Portland dominated the match. Timbers goalkeeper Steve Clark was required to make just two saves.

Portland hasn’t given up a non-penalty kick goal during the knockout phase of the competition.

Philly Filling Orders

The numbers against Sporting KC again displayed how Philly is winning while losing on the stats sheet in virtually every column but the one that matters most, goal scoring.

Sporting KC held 57.5% of the possession. They had seven corner kicks, compared to one for the Union. Philadelphia was outshot 7-3.

Portland Timbers vs Philadelphia Union Head-to-Head Stats

3-1-1 Record 3-1-2
8 Goals For 10
7 Goals Against 8
+1 Goal Differential +2
6-1-4 Head To Head 1-6-4

Once more in this matchup, everything points to a Portland victory. The Timbers have won four straight matches against the Union. They’ve outscored Philadelphia 11-3 in those four victories.

Overall, Portland holds a 6-1-4 advantage in the all-time series between the two sides. The Union have scored just seven goals in those 11 matches, an average of 0.63 goals per game.

Portland is also the only club among the final four with an MLS trophy on the mantlepiece. The Timbers won the 2015 MLS Cup.

Still, there’s just something about betting against Philly that seems foolish. They keep finding a way to win the day.

Watch the playmaking skills of midfielder Brendan Aaronson, just 19, and you’ll understand why so many top European sides want to acquire him. Goalkeeper Andre Blake owns an MLS-leading 33 saves.

Even though it defies logic, take the price. Go the Union route.

Pick: Philadelphia Union (+170).

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Robert Duff