New York City FC might finally win their first major trophy. NYCFC were seen as a snakebit franchise after continually failing to get past the quarterfinals in the MLS Cup Playoffs, but they are finally at the precipice of their first piece of hardware. They are slight favorites per the MLS betting odds against the Portland Timbers this weekend, although they will have to travel cross-country to face their foe. Portland has been here before with a victory in the 2015 MLS Cup and a runner-up finish in the 2018 MLS Cup. The Timbers also won the 2020 MLS is Back Tournament.
The Portland Timbers will take on New York City FC in the 2021 MLS Cup Finals on Saturday, December 11, 2021, at 3 p.m. ET on ABC from Providence Park in Portland, Oregon.
MLS Betting Odds at BookMaker.eu
Portland Timbers +182
New York City FC +160
Portland was the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference coming into the playoffs. The Timbers finished six points behind the No. 1 seed Colorado Rapids, and they have had a dream run through the postseason. They overcame an early deficit to beat Minnesota United FC 3-1 in the first round with a second half brace from Sebastian Blanco after a leveling goal from Larrys Mabiala just before halftime. Mabiala was the hero in the conference semifinals against Colorado with a 90th minute goal in a 1-0 win, and the Timbers won the Western Conference for the third time in seven years with a 2-0 victory over Real Salt Lake last week.
It wasn’t an easy path to the finals for New York City FC. They needed to first beat Atlanta United before taking on Supporters’ Shield winners New England. The Revolution were the best team in the MLS all season, but they could never take a lead through 120 minutes and needed a goal in the 118th minute to send it to penalties. NYCFC converted all their penalties while Adam Buksa missed for the Revs to send the NYCFC to the conference finals. They were fortunate there as the Philadelphia Union were ravaged by COVID, but the Union still took a lead before an 88th minute goal from Talles Magno sent the Bronx Blues to the MLS Cup Finals.
Several Portland players have not been available for much of the season. Goaltender Jeff Attinella has been out since late July with a knee injury, and midfielder Andy Polo suffered a season-ending quad injury around the same time. Defender Ismaila Jome has been out with an Achilles injury since May, and midfielder Eryk Williamson tore his ACL last month. Standout Sebastian Blanco did not play last week with a hamstring injury, and he is questionable to play in the final.
Defender Anton Tinnerholm is the only player on the injury report for NYCFC. He suffered a torn Achilles’ two months ago.
Player to Watch
Golden Boot winner Valentin Castellanos will make his return to the starting lineup for NYCFC. Castellanos led the league with 19 goals this season, but he missed the Eastern Conference Final after picking up a red card against the New England Revolution. This offense needs Castellanos playing at a high level to feel good about its chances.
Free Soccer Betting Pick
Portland are slight underdogs at home, but the Timbers are the right side due to their relative experience. Diego Chara and Diego Valeri will play crucial roles in a 2-1 victory for the hosts.
Major League Soccer Odds: Portland Timbers 2, New York City FC 1
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