Seattle forward Jordan Morris has three goals in three regular-season starts for the Sounders in 2020. Photo by Andy Witchger (Wiki Commons).
- Portland Timbers will play first game since lifting the MLS Is Back trophy in Orlando earlier this month
- Defending MLS champions Seattle Sounders resume their title defense with heated rivalry game
- Read on for the full odds, match preview and best bet for the game
The winners of the last two MLS-related trophies go head-to-head on Sunday at Providence Park in Portland (10pm ET).
The Portland Timbers will simply aim to pick up where they left off earlier this month, defeating Orlando City 2-1 in Florida to win the MLS Is Back tournament and the accompanying CONCACAF Champions League berth.
The Seattle Sounders, who exited that tournament with a 4-1 loss to Los Angeles FC, will hope to get their MLS Cup title defense back on track here, in the first meeting between the two Pacific Northwest rivals in exactly one full year. Seattle beat Portland 2-1 at Providence Park on August 23, 2019.
Portland Timbers vs Seattle Sounders Odds
|Team||Spread||Moneyline||Total at DraftKings|
|Portland Timbers||-0.5 (+125)||+123||O 1.5 (-480)|
|Seattle Sounders||+0.5 (-1250)||+220||U 1.5 (+335)|
Odds taken August 22
Timbers On The Rise
Few expected the Portland Timbers to be the last team standing in Florida.
Going into that tournament, the Timbers were very much a middle-of-the-pack pick to win the event, and were behind LAFC, the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Houston Dynamo in the pecking order to even get out of their group.
Odds to win MLS Western Conference following the season restart:
Portland Timbers +600
Seattle Sounders +650
Minnesota United +900
Sporting KC +900
LA Galaxy +1400
Colorado Rapids +1600
San Jose Earthquakes +1600
Real Salt Lake +3000
FC Dallas +3300#MLS
— SportsBettingDime (@SBD) August 19, 2020
But after winning Group F, Giovanni Savarese’s team went from strength to strength, gaining experience and confidence with each playoff round. As a result, Portland has now seen its odds to follow in Seattle’s footsteps and be crowned as MLS Cup champions slashed from as high as +3367 back in preseason to +1400 now.
As would be expected of tournament champions, the Portland Timbers dominated the Best XI from MLS Is Back, with four of their players making it into the lineup.
Up front, Jeremy Ebobisse tied for third overall with four goals, and added one assist, and is now apparently attracting the attention of Belgian side Anderlecht. Assuming he stays though, the 23-year-old is a crucial up-and-coming star for the Timbers, with three goals already in the 2020 regular season, after finding the back of the net 11 times last year.
Belgian Pro League clubs RSC Anderlecht and Royal Antwerp are interested in signing Portland striker Jeremy Ebobisse. Eredivisie club Heerenveen are also interested.
Ebobisse had 4 goals and an assist in the MLS is Back Tournament, and was a key cog in Portland’s title run. pic.twitter.com/YeyjWm4BHg
— Future USMNT (@FutureUsmnt) August 20, 2020
In the midfield, Portland boasts the talents of Sebastian Blanco and Diego Chara to boost both their creativity and their defensive solidity. Blanco, the Argentine playmaker, was named player of the tournament after leading the tournament with five assists and adding three goals. Chara, meanwhile, played the full 90 minutes in each of Portland’s games, showing the kind of indefatigable dynamism that the club will need to push on for the postseason.
He put on a show.
Sit back, relax and enjoy the best moments from #MLSisBack Player of the Tournament Sebastián Blanco. #RCTID pic.twitter.com/x5XthI1viB
— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) August 13, 2020
And at the back, Larrys Mabiala played almost every minute, providing the kind of spine every championship club needs and scoring one of the two goals in the final.
Regular Season Resumes
By splitting their first two regular-season games before the tournament shutdown, the Timbers were already in a pretty decent position in the standings. But with the group-phases matches at MLS Is Back also counting for the regular season, Portland did itself a huge favor with its two wins and a draw. As a result, the club now sits third in the Western Conference, with the two clubs above it – Minnesota and Kansas City – both having played a game more.
Timbers vs Sounders 2020 MLS Stats
|20||Shots On Target||19|
Sounders’ Time To Shine?
With a win, a loss and a draw, the Seattle Sounders moved into the knockout stage at MLS Is Back as the runners-up in their group, before being sent home in pretty one-sided contest against LAFC. For a team with arguably the most experience of knockout-style soccer at the tournament, having reached the MLS Cup final in three of the past four years, the early exit was a surprise.
But Sunday’s game brings a fresh start for the defending champions, and what better way of putting that disappointment behind them that ruining Portland’s first game back at home? Seattle is 11-8-6 all-time against Portland in MLS games, with a 4-6-3 mark on the road.
The Sounders’ pre-tournament and tournament record has them placed fifth in the Western Conference, just two points back of the Timbers, so there will be much to play for on Sunday.
Seattle hasn’t played a competitive fixture since their exit from MLS Is Back almost a month ago on July 27, so much of the form, as well as the momentum, will be with Portland, especially with the Timbers also benefiting from the creature comforts of home, small as they might be without the presence of fans.
The pick: Timbers (+123)
For the last 20 years, Paul Attfield has worked in sports media. Starting out in his native Britain with the likes of The Independent, he eventually switched continents, with his work appearing in the likes of the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and Yahoo Sports since.