Portland Timbers host New York City in the MLS Cup on Saturday. Both teams qualified for the playoffs by finishing fourth in their Conference. So, both won three ties to reach the fixture that determines the MLS champions.
The match brings together two teams in form and playing with confidence so we are faced with one of the most difficult MLS picks of the season. However, before previewing the match, here are some facts regarding the last 10 MLS Cup finals:
- The home team have won eight finals.
- One match has gone to extra time.
- Two finals have been settled after a penalty shoot-out.
- Both teams have scored during regular time in five finals.
- There have been more than 2 goals during regular time in four finals.
Los Angeles Galaxy (2011) are the only MLS Cup winners to also win the Supporters Shield which is awarded to the team with the best record during the regular season. However, as Portland (Western) and New York City (Eastern) were fourth in their Conference this feat cannot be repeated this season.
In fact, since 2011, this is the first MLS Cup that matches the teams with the fourth-best record during the regular season. Portland and New York City have peaked at just the right time so their Conference records have little bearing on the outcome of this tie.
Portland Timbers vs New York City
||MLS Cup Odds
|New York City
A key factor is that Portland will enjoy the huge advantage of playing in the MLS Cup at home. The fixture takes place at the Providence Stadium because Portland won more points during the regular season than New York – only two MLS Cup winners since 2011 have won a road trip final.
Supporters of the Timbers cannot buy tickets for home matches and the seating is based on ‘first come’ first served’. That means the stadium can be full for two hours before kick-off so the fans have plenty of time for ‘refreshments’ which creates passionate home support.
The Timbers won 11 of 17 home matches during the regular season, which was the highest total in the Conference. In fact, only two sides beat Portland on their own ground.
Meanwhile, New York had just five wins on the road but avoided defeat in all but five away fixtures.
Portland had home wins against Minnesota in Round One and Real Salt Lake City in the Conference Finals and playing in front of their own fans provides a significant edge.
New York City had home advantage when beating Atlanta in Round One. However, they eliminated Conference winners New England on the road in the Semis and won at Philadelphia in the Finals last weekend. The MLS Cup debutants have shown no fear despite a difficult playoff schedule.
However, beating Portland in their own backyard could be beyond New York. Portland have only won the MLS Cup in 2015 and were beaten finalists three years later. Therefore, we expect the Timbers to win another MLS Cup with a narrow win over New York this weekend.
MLS Pick – Portland Timbers to beat New York City