Philadelphia Union Look to Clinch Supporters’ Shield vs Columbus Crew

Philadelphia Union

The Philadelphia Union have won three-straight and have their club’s first trophy in sight as they lead the Supporters’ Shield race. Photo by @PhilaUnion (Twitter)

  • MLS Week 22 kicks off this weekend with two matches on Saturday, October 31 and 11 more on Sunday, November 1
  • The Philadelphia Union can clinch the Supporters’ Shield this weekend
  • Read on for the odds and our best bets from MLS Week 22 here

It’s the penultimate week of MLS regular season play with just two rounds to go and Decision Day looming on November 8.

With Week 21 happening earlier this week, a few more teams have booked their playoff spots including NYCFC who clinched with Nashville’s win over Montreal on Tuesday, as well as Seattle, who clinched for the 12th-straight year with their 2-0 win over Vancouver.

On Wednesday night six more teams joined them with Sporting KC, Portland, LAFC, New York Red Bulls, New England and Nashville SC.

After Wednesday’s matches, which included a 5-2 thumping of Portland over the LA Galaxy, LA head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto was shown the door on Thursday. Dominic Kinnear will step in on an interim basis for LA’s final three games this week.

Additionally, on Thursday, MLS announced that they will be using points per game to decide the overall standings and playoffs. This, because not all teams will have played 23 games because of COVID-19 postponements. The confirmed playoff participants now include Minnesota United after this decision.

This weekend’s action kicks off with two matches on Saturday—FC Dallas vs Houston Dynamo and Nashville SC vs Chicago Fire, followed by a full slate of matches on Sunday.

Let’s look at the Week 22 odds and provide some best bets below.

MLS Week 22 Odds

Matchup Home Draw Away
FC Dallas vs Houston Dynamo +100 +260 +250
Nashville SC vs Chicago Fire +130 +230 +210
Columbus Crew vs Philadelphia Union +120 +250 +210
Atlanta United vs FC Cincinnati -118 +250 +320
NYCFC vs New York Red Bulls -143 +275 +380
Montreal Impact vs Orlando City SC +240 +260 +105
New England Revolution vs DC United -200 +320 +550
Sporting KC vs Minnesota United -133 +280 +340
Toronto FC vs Inter Miami CF +120 +250 +210
Colorado Rapids vs Seattle Sounders +180 +270 +130
Portland Timbers vs Vancouver Whitecaps -2225 +360 +550
LA Galaxy vs Real Salt Lake +115 +270 +210
San Jose Earthquakes vs LAFC +225 +290 +100

All odds taken Oct 30 at William Hill

Pick 1: FC Dallas vs Houston Dynamo

It will be the fourth installment of the Texas Derby this season when Dallas hosts Houston at 3:30 pm EST Saturday afternoon. The first meeting came back on August 21 in Houston which ended 0-0. When Dallas hosted in the second meeting on September 12 it was a 2-1 FCD win. On October 7 in Houston, Dallas had every opportunity to take all three points once again but were unable to break down Houston and lost 2-0.

After Houston’s first goal, they also took a red card. Dallas held 72-percent possession, 222-81 final third passes and a 28-11 edge in attempts but were unable to find the equalizer. The Dynamo would go on to add a late second goal through a penalty.

This season’s lower-scoring meetings have been a change of meetings from the past. Previous games had seen both teams scoring in seven-straight, as well as both scoring and OVER 2.5 goals in three-straight prior to 2020.

After a run of four matches without a win, Dallas is now 2-1-1 (WDL) in their past four. This, after defeating Inter Miami on a late 82′ minute winner for a 2-1 result on Wednesday.

I say this basically every time I feature a Dynamo match and it just keeps holding true. They are brutal on the road. After Wednesday’s 2-1 loss away to LAFC, they now have just one win in 12 matches not played in Houston in 2020. They’ve kept exactly zero clean sheets in any of those away matches as well, though have at least scored in nine of them. Wednesday’s loss makes them 1-5-6 (WDL) in their past 12. It also leaves them still out of the playoffs in 11th. With just two matches left, this game could basically be win-or-go-home.

Houston are actually right where their expected goals would put them. They are third-best in the West with an xG of 29.3. But, they are only seventh overall in total goals with 29. Each of the six teams above them in goalscoring though have all far exceeded their expected goal totals.

But Houston is creating shots and chances and ranks fourth in MLS in attempts and shots on target with 294 and 104.

Houston’s defense is always good to concede at least once. But they’re desperate and have the offense to at least score one of their own as well. If picking a winner, I’d have to lean towards Dallas given Houston’s poor road form. Though FCD has been fairly inconsistent of late to be fully confident in backing them for the win. Instead, bet the goal market and hope for an exciting Texas Derby.

Pick: Both Teams to Score & Over 2.5 Goals (-143)

Pick 2: Colorado Rapids vs Seattle Sounders

This one kicks off at 10:00 pm EST on Saturday night, with Seattle traveling to Colorado to face the now eighth-place Rapids.

Colorado’s position in the table was a little deceiving as they’ve only played 15 matches due to multiple games being delayed or postponed because of coronavirus. After being off for nearly a month, Colorado has returned to play with road losses to Sporting Kansas City (4-0) last weekend and Minnesota United (2-1) on Wednesday. Prior to their coronavirus issues, they had won three of four and had outscored their opponents 13-4 in those matches. The wins though were against the Galaxy, RSL and San Jose, of which only San Jose is in a playoff position.

They looked well out of the playoffs earlier this week. However, with the points per game announcement, the Rapids now find themselves currently holding the final playoff spot in the West.

It will be a step up in class against a Sounders team fighting for first overall in the West with Sporting KC and Portland.

Seattle has been in strong form basically since the restart. They were on a run of five wins in six before seeing their form dip in recent weeks. First came a 3-1 defeat to LAFC on October 1, followed by two draws, 0-0 and 1-1 to San Jose and Portland respectively. Still, that was just one defeat from their past six and two in nine heading into Tuesday’s match against Vancouver.

The Sounders’ attack had grown limited without the services of Raul Ruidiaz. Ruidiaz had been away on international duty and then dealing with his own coronavirus issues. However, on Tuesday, he returned to face the Whitecaps and was the clear difference-maker in recording a goal and assist in Seattle’s 2-0 win.

Ranking second overall in goals per 90 at 0.78, Ruidiaz will be key for Seattle in this match and going forward into the playoffs.

Understandably, after a month off, the Rapids have struggled. Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat, with the winner coming late off an own goal, is an improvement from Saturday’s 4-0 loss. However, SKC held a 23-5 advantage in attempts and a 12-2 edge in shots on target. Minnesota also dominated in the attempt column at 25-12, while only slightly edging out the shots on target at 5-4.

The Sounders are the league’s fourth highest-scoring team and tops overall in expected goals. If Colorado gives up anything close to the number of attempts they have of late, Seattle will surely capitalize and take all three points.

Pick: Seattle – Win (+130)

2020 MLS Cup Odds Tracker

Pick 3: Columbus Crew vs Philadelphia Union

It’s a top-four battle in the East when the Columbus Crew (3rd, 35 points), hosts Philadelphia (1st, 44 points) at 4:30 pm EST Saturday evening.

Earlier this season Columbus was the talk of the town, with a suffocating defense and many pundits declaring them an MLS Cup favorite. They may still be that team, however, unless they rebound from a recent dip in form their playoffs may be short-lived.

No doubt, they’ve been playing with a hand-tied, as key players Lucas Zelarayan and Darlington Nagbe have been injured, though both have recently returned. However, they’re now dealing with a minor knee injury this past week to striker Gyasi Zardes who’s missed the last two games.

Zelarayan got 45 minutes against Houston (1-1 draw) and 33 minutes against DC in Wednesday’s 1-0 loss. Nagbe has made a similar return with 63 and 33 minutes himself respectively in those games.

Previously, Nagbe had missed seven matches and Zelarayan three. The Crew were able to keep rolling with two wins when Nagbe first went down, but since that time without the two in the lineup, or with them playing limited minutes, the Crew are 1-2-4 (WDL).

Outside of a 3-1 home win over NYCFC, in their past five matches, they’ve drawn Houston and lost to DC, as well as Cincinnati and Montreal. Only Montreal is currently a playoff team in those losses, and they own a record of 7-2-12 (WDL).

Columbus will have the home advantage in this one where they have just one loss all season and seven wins. They’ve already defeated Philadelphia at home once this year, back on September 2 by a score of 1-0. Each team had four shots on target and the lone goal went to Zelarayan but it came off a deflection.

The Crew may need more than a lucky bounce to defeat the Union this time. Jim Curtin’s side is flying right now as the top team in the East and overall. The Union have never won a trophy in their history and with a three-point lead over Toronto, they now have the Supporters’ Shield square in their sights.

It’s been an incredible year for the Union who reached the semifinals of the MLS is Back Tournament. Since the restart after the tournament, they’ve lost only twice in 16 games.

One was the aforementioned defeat to the Crew and the other to Toronto FC. When the Union got a second crack at Toronto last weekend, they rolled to a 5-0 victory. That, coupled with a 2-1 win over Chicago on Wednesday, means Philly is riding a three-game winning streak and is undefeated in six. They’ve also scored multiple goals in each of those six matches, coming from nine different goalscorers.

Perhaps Philly’s bid to win the Shield will hit a skid here. But they are the clear form team right now and at +210 odds, I believe they have a much larger than 33.3-percent (implied probability) chance of winning this one. If you want a safer bet with a smaller return, the Union to win or draw (double chance) at -163 is also an option.

Pick: Philadelphia Union – Win (+210)