MLS Cup Finals Prediction
MLS Finals Betting Advice
By Matt Pitt
Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders both reached their first MLS Cup and one of them will become first time winners of MLS’ biggest prize on December 10 when they meet at Toronto’s BMO Field in a winner-takes-all clash.
Being the home side, courtesy of amassing more points during the regular season, Toronto go into the 2016 MLS Cup as +115 favorites with Bovada. Seattle are currently priced +220 with the draw at +240. This may surprise a few bettors. Toronto have won only twice In 11 previous meetings between these two sides, while Seattle have seven victories.
Toronto finished the regular season with a 14-9-11 record (8-3-6 at home) and their strengths definitely lie in their star designated players. Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco are arguably the best designated player trio in the league and are bound to cause Seattle all kinds of problems.
Altidore, a USA international, became the first player to score in five straight playoff games when he bagged a goal in the second leg against Montreal Impact. After recovering from a troublesome hamstring injury, Altidore scored 15 goals in tandem with seven assists in his last 19 regular season and playoff matches.
The Canadian outfit have, at times, looked shaky at the back, particularly against counterattacking teams. Impact managed to score three first half goals against Toronto in the first leg, all coming from a counterattack. This could be worrying for Toronto fans as Seattle have plenty of pace up front.
Seattle started the 2016 MLS season in terrible form, but hiring Brian Schmetzer to replace Sigi Schmid as head coach and signing playmaker Nicolas Lodeiro turned the clubs fortunes around. Statistically, the Sounders were the best team during the last three months of the regular season and that incredible form saw them sneak into the playoff places as the fourth-seed.
While the attacking talent of Lodeiro and rookie Jordan Morris attract the attention of pundits, it is the Sounders’ defense that has helped them reach their first MLS Cup, conceding only 10 goals in 13 games since September 10. This tight backline has been bolstered by the return of centre back Roman Torres, who solidified Seattle defense. They only conceded three goals which included three shutouts in five playoff games.
Sounders are definitely without veteran Clint Dempsey who has an irregular heartbeat, while Oalex Anderson is a doubt due to a hamstring injury. Otherwise, Seattle are at full strength.
If the Sounders are to overcome the underdog title and win their first MLS Cup, they need Lodeiro to be on top of his game. The 27-year-old Uruguayan had 13 goals and eight assists in 13 games in 2016. He is unstoppable when he is on song, but is equally as disappointing when he’s having an off game. If Toronto can marshal him effectively, it is difficult to see where Seattle’s creativeness will come from.
Bookmakers think the most likely scoreline is a 1-1 draw at +500 with a 2-1 Toronto win next in line at +700, followed by a 1-0 win for the home side at +850. I don’t see many goals in this game as both sides could approach the game in a cagey manner, but Toronto have the stronger team overall and should win the trophy.
My favorite bet is the Toronto FC to win in regulation time at -105 or the half time / full time result of Draw-Toronto available at +395.
Pick: Toronto to win in regulation time at -105
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