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Portland, Dallas, San Jose & Colorado Race for Playoff Spots on Decision Day: Do Any Offer MLS​ Cup Betting Value?

Tim Howard
Could Tim Howard's illustrious career end with a trip to the MLS Cup Playoffs? Photo by Ray Terrill (Wiki Commons)
  • While the Eastern Conference playoff teams are all set, four Western clubs are battling  it out for the last two postseason spots
  • Portland and Dallas currently occupy sixth and seventh, and have +4000 odds of going all the way to lifting the MLS Cup
  • San Jose and Colorado, who have won just six road games combined all season, both face crucial away matches to stand any chance of making the big dance

The Major League Soccer regular season comes down to one more weekend, where Sunday’s Decision Day will determine who claims the final two of the 14 available playoff spots.

The Eastern Conference lineup is set, but there are two unclaimed berths in the West. However, the four clubs fighting it out for them all face uphill battles to go on and win the championship, as reflected by the latest 2019 MLS Cup odds.

MLS Cup Odds

Team Odds
Los Angeles FC +150
Los Angeles Galaxy +2000
Atlanta United +1000
New York City FC +400
DC United +2500
Philadelphia Union +1200
New York Red Bulls +2000
Portland Timbers +4000
FC Dallas +4000
Seattle Sounders +1400
Toronto FC +2500
Minnesota United +1600
San Jose Earthquakes +10000
Real Salt Lake +2500
New England Revolution +2500

*Odds taken on 10/02/19

Portland Knocking on Playoff Door

Currently, in sixth place in the Western Conference heading into Decision Day, the Timbers can clinch their MLS Cup playoff berth with a win or a tie at home against San Jose, or if FC Dallas lose or tie against Sporting KC.

Last year’s finalists are a longshot to make it back to the title game of course, with odds of +4000, but they certainly have the playoff pedigree.

Portland’s away form has been below .500 at 6-8-3 this season, but at home, which is where it is playing on Sunday, it has a far more positive 7-5-4. Better yet, the team that stands between it and the playoffs, San Jose, has one of the worst away records in the league at 3-10-3.

Assuming they can qualify, the Timbers would then face an away game at either Minnesota, Seattle or the LA Galaxy, and the road to the MLS Cup would only get harder from there.

Desperate Dallas

FC Dallas will qualify for the postseason with a home win against Sporting KC, but can also sneak in the back door with a tie if San Jose loses or ties in Portland. They also make it to the promised land with a San Jose loss in Portland combined with a Colorado loss or tie against LAFC.

Dallas could have put itself in pole position to make it if it had managed to grab a win against fellow playoff bubble team Colorado this past weekend, but a 3-0 reverse wasn’t exactly in their plans.

Much like Portland, if Dallas can squeeze into the playoffs on Decision Day it will then face a first-round playoff road trip to either Minnesota, Seattle or the Los Angeles Galaxy. The first two of those teams have lost a combined three home games all season, while the Galaxy have suffered five home losses. Either way, the portents for a long playoff run for FC Dallas would not appear overly positive.

San Jose

Despite the fact that the Earthquakes are staring up at Portland and Dallas in the standings, thanks to this Sunday’s trip to Oregon, San Jose is still very much in control of its playoff fate. A win at Providence Park and Matias Almeyda’s team can pack its bags for the postseason.

But even a tie at Portland might suffice, providing FC Dallas lose and Colorado loses, ties or wins by nothing more than a one-goal margin against LAFC.

Of course, as discussed previously, with only three road wins all year versus 10 losses, the ‘it’ will require something of a minor miracle to make the playoffs. And sneaking into the sixth or seventh seed would leave it facing road trips for the remainder of the playoffs, which isn’t exactly the team’s forte.


The Rapids are such a longshot that books don’t even have them listed anymore. But others are offering odds as long as +100000 to win the MLS Cup.

To qualify, first and foremost Colorado will have to take care of business on the road against the best team in MLS, Los Angeles FC. Then it also needs both Dallas and San Jose to lose too. There is a scenario where it can qualify if it wins by three or more goals, Dallas loses and San Jose ties at Portland, but that seems like a longshot all by itself.

And with just three away wins all season, the possibility of winning against Bob Bradley’s team on the road seems a fairly remote possibility all on its own.

Prediction: The lowest MLS seed to ever make an MLS Cup final is fifth, which has happened four times, most recently last year when Portland lost to Atlanta United. The only one of those four to lift the trophy is DC United, back in 2001. Given that these four clubs are battling for the sixth and seventh seeds in the West, the potential for a championship season seems as remote as the odds they’ve been handed.

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