- The 2020 MLS Cup Final will kick off at 8:30 pm EST on Saturday, December 12, 2020
- The Seattle Sounders are playing in their fourth MLS Cup Final in five years, having won the MLS Cup twice in that period
- See the odds for the 2020 MLS Cup Finals match along with our preview and best bet below
It seems like a lifetime ago, with the first regular season game being played back on February 29. But after shutdown, a summer tournament and a condensed regular season, we finally have two teams left standing with the Columbus Crew vs Seattle Sounders playing for the MLS Cup Final this Saturday at 8:30 pm EST.
Way back on that opening weekend, both Columbus and Seattle claimed opening season home victories. They both took advantage of home field throughout the playoffs so far and will now go head-to-head in the finals.
For Columbus, it’s their third trip to the finals and first time since 2015, where they came up short 2-1 at home. That result came coincidentally to the Portland Timbers and then-coach Caleb Porter. Their previous trip to the MLS Cup Final was in 2008, a 3-1 win over the New York Red Bulls. Porter, now with the Crew, will host Brian Schmetzer’s Sounders who are no strangers to the playoffs or the finals. They’ve qualified for the playoffs every season of their existence since 2009. It’s also their fourth time in five years they’ll be playing in the MLS Cup Final.
In what will be the final playoff match ever to be played at MAPFRE Stadium, can the Crew walk off the pitch for the last time as the winners of the 25th MLS Cup?
Columbus Crew vs Seattle Sounders Odds
|Matchup||Spread||Moneyline||Total||Odds to Lift Trophy|
|Columbus Crew vs Seattle Sounders||CLB 0 (-105) | SEA 0 (-111)||CLB +160 | SEA +160 | DRAW +240||Ov 2.5 (-118) | Un 2.5 (-106)||CLB -110 | SEA -110|
All odds taken Dec 10 at Bet365
Columbus Crew Hope to Close Out MAPFRE Stadium with MLS Cup Win
The Crew will be moving into a new stadium next summer and while they may yet play some regular season games at MAPFRE in 2021, this will certainly be the final playoff game to be held at their current location.
Porter’s Columbus Crew enter the MLS Cup Final on the back of four-straight wins which started with a 4-1 win on Decision Day over Atlanta.
Their path to the final began with a 3-2 win over New York Red Bulls in Round One, followed by a 2-0 win over Nashville in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Though they were made to work for it, scoring both goals in extra-time after ending regulation drawn 0-0.
Then on Sunday, they hosted Bruce Arena’s New England Revolution who were in fine form themselves heading into the match.
The Crew came out strong with the majority of the ball and chances early but the teams still entered the half scoreless. Columbus would find the scoresheet first though in the 59′ minute through an Artur goal, which would prove enough to seal a 1-0 win and send the Crew to the finals.
Having a kept back-to-back clean sheets, including playing extra-time against Nashville, the Crew haven’t allowed a goal since Brian White’s 90′ minute goal in Round One —a streak running over 200 minutes. This, despite starting keeper Eloy Room being sidelined due to injury, and backup Andrew Tarbell playing between the sticks. Tarbell hadn’t started a game since October 18 but has stopped all eight shots he’s faced in the Crew’s past two wins and will be counted on again if Room is not able to return this weekend.
Seattle Sounders Chasing Dynasty Status
The Sounders entered the Western Conference Finals on the back of 3-1 and 1-0 wins over LAFC and Dallas in the playoffs.
At home on Monday to Minnesota, they were always going to be favorites but needed the most dramatic of finishes to book their place in the final on Saturday.
It’s rare Seattle falls behind at home but they did just that against Minnesota. After a Shane O’Neill yellow card (arguably red), set up Emanuel Reynoso for a free kick, the Argentine curled in a fantastic shot to give the Loons the lead from 30 yards out.
That lead would then be doubled in the second half, when Reynoso, again taking a free kick, had his kick headed into goal by Bakaye Dibassy to make it 2-0.
With time starting to run out for the champs, head coach Brian Schmetzer went to his bench bringing on four subs. Will Bruin, subbed on in the 70′ minute, paid immediate dividends scoring just minutes later to cut the deficit to one.
As Seattle continued to press, it was a corner kick from Nicolas Lodeiro that found Raul Ruidiaz which the Peruvian buried for the equalizer to make the game 2-2. Not happy settling to end level after 90 minutes, Lodeiro had another corner kick in stoppage time that found substitute Gustav Svensson’s head, which the Swede sent into the back of the net in the 93′ minute for the game-winner.
Columbus Crew vs Seattle Sounders Stats
|12-5-6||Regular Season Record (WDL)||11-6-5|
|36/30.8||Goals For / Expected Goals||44/41.8|
|21/29.9||Goals Against / Expected Goals Against||23/20.9|
|243/88||Shots / Shots on Target||277/93|
Crew, Sounders and MLS Cup Final Stats and Trends
Our most recent reference point between these teams comes way back at the start of the year in Week 2 on March 7. Playing at Seattle’s Lumen Field, Columbus took the lead in the first half through a Gyasi Zardes goal which was later equaled by a Ruidiaz penalty in the 79′ minute to level the score at 1-1.
The Sounders were missing Lodeiro, but still held 57-percent of the possession and a big edge in attempts at 16-5. Both teams put three shots on target.
If we look back to the 2019 season, Pedro Santos and Lodeiro exchanged penalty goals in what looked to be another 1-1 draw. However, Lodeiro would add a second in the dying moments of the match with a winner in the 96′ minute.
These games were some time ago, but it still points to a potentially close match once again. Also interesting, is that of the five goals scored in those two matches, three were scored by penalty.
On the season this year, both Seattle (4/5 penalties scored) and Columbus (1/4 penalties scored) rank near the top of the league in attempted penalties. Toronto FC with six had the most. The Crew have also had a habit of conceding PKs as well, being one of three teams to concede a league-high six. The Sounders conceded just two.
Will @NicolasLodeiro lead @SoundersFC to a 3rd #MLSCup win? pic.twitter.com/ANQpmeSUDY
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) December 10, 2020
The Crew committed the eighth-most fouls this season and also received the eighth-most yellow cards.
Not let’s look at some possession stats and expected goals (xG) figures between the teams.
Both of these teams are used to having the ball. The Sounders are sixth in average possession at 54.5-percent, while the Crew are eighth at 52.2-percent. That naturally coincides with the Sounders ranking fourth in middle third and sixth in final third touches. The Crew also rank high in those categories at seventh and ninth respectively.
Despite usually holding the bulk of possession though, neither team ranks high in either attempts or shots on target. Columbus ranks just 20th in both categories, while Seattle ranks 12th and 15th respectively.
“That this man is at the end of his contract and it hasn’t been renewed, blows my mind. Pay this man the money!” [email protected] sets the record straight on Brian Schmetzer pic.twitter.com/zdRi2SZ7jm
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) December 8, 2020
In playoff games, Columbus has recorded xGs of 1.9, 1.9 and 1.5. Whereas they’ve allowed expected goals against (xGA) of 1.4, 0.9 and 0.9 according to FBRef. Seattle’s xGs in playoff games have been 1.5, 1.1 and 1.7, while their xGAs have been 1.8, 0.7 and 0.6. As you can see both teams have held their opponents to under 1.0 xGAs in two of three playoff games.
Those stats could point to a lower scoring match. However, from an Over/Under perspective on the season both of these teams were profitable for bettors in OVER totals of 2.5. Columbus was 13-10, while Seattle was 15-7.
If you’re curious about the average scores of past finals, it’s basically a mixed bag. The Crew’s 2008 win came by a 3-1 scoreline. In the next ten finals, a bet on UNDER 2.5 goals would’ve been 6-4. Then last season we saw another scoreline of 3-1 when Seattle topped Toronto FC. Those two 3-1 results are two of just three finals which have seen more than three goals scored in the past 15 years. Historically speaking at least, it’s probably a good bet we see less than four goals scored.
In the lead-up to the season futures prices on these finalists were Seattle (+700) and Columbus (+3300). If you looked hard enough like myself, you could’ve even found the Crew at 40-1 odds, or even longer at 80-1 when MLS Cup odds first opened.
[email protected] has been on the mark for @ColumbusCrewSC! ? pic.twitter.com/PWNN6p8LQo
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) December 10, 2020
Zardes or Ruidiaz as Anytime Scorers?
Both of these teams have plenty of scoring threats. But if you’re considering a bet on an anytime goalscorer, it’s hard to look past either of the star goal-getters for either side. Zardes scored 12 goals on the season and has notched two more in the playoffs so far. In his past four matches, Zardes has three goals, one assist and eight shots on target. A bet on Zardes as an anytime scorer in the final has odds of +120.
On the Seattle side, Ruidiaz is in equally fine form with 12 goals in the regular season himself, to also go along with two playoff goals. He finished the regular season with three goals in four matches with six shots on target. He’s also a playoff scoring machine, having scored nine goals in nine all-time playoff matches with the Sounders. He has +137 odds to score on Saturday.
More for you that watched the game:
15th straight playoff win @ home is an MLS record
12-0 at home under Schmetzer in po
Nico Lodeiro has now recorded an ast in a record 7 straight po games
Raul Ruidiaz = 9 goals & 6 ast in 9 playoff starts
4th MLS Cup app in 5 years
— Matt Johnson (@MattJStretch) December 8, 2020
Columbus Crew vs Seattle Sounders Best Bet
It’s hard to find a fault in either of these teams and it’s likely a winner will be decided by the slimmest of margins. I can see the potential for a cagey start where both teams try to feel each other out. Both are excellent first-half teams. The Crew have the fourth-best first-half record at 10-8-5 (WDL) according to Soccer Stats.
Of the ten times they’ve been leading at the half they’ve also gone on to win the match in eight of them. They’ve lost just once when leading after 45 with an 8-1-1 record. Columbus has also only allowed eight goals in the first half in the regular season. At home the Crew are even more impressive at 6-5-0 in the first half, scoring seven and conceding just once in 11 games.
Seattle has the ninth-best first-half record at 7-10-5 and has only allowed seven goals all regular season. Of the seven times they went into the half on top, six have resulted in a win, to go with one draw.
? on ? on ? pic.twitter.com/YKwK1JECWR
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) December 9, 2020
If this match takes some time to get going and these trends continue, a scoreless first half at +200 odds is great value. So is a first-half draw at +120.
From a second-half standpoint, both teams have been dominant after the break ranking third (CLB) and fourth (SEA) in total points. No one has more second half goals than Seattle who scored 28 in minutes 45-90 this season. Each team has odds of -138 to score in the second half.
As the odds would suggest at -110 for either team to lift the trophy this is a coinflip which could require extra-time or penalties to crown a winner. A 1-1 result after 90 minutes (+550) is not hard to imagine which also brings the ‘both teams to score’ bet into play at -150.
Picks: Draw +240, Under 2.5 Goals (-106)