MLS Is Back Tournament 2020: Portland vs. Orlando Odds, Schedule and Predictions

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistAugust 7, 2020

Portland Timbers midfielder Sebastian Blanco follows a play during the first half of an MLS soccer match against the Los Angeles FC, Thursday, July 23, 2020, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

Portland Timbers and Orlando City will square off Tuesday in an unexpected MLS is Back tournament final matchup.

Portland was viewed as a trophy contender at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Florida, but it faced one of the toughest paths to a championship.

Giovanni Savarese's team earned first place in a group with tournament favorite Los Angeles FC and fought through three battles with Eastern Conference foes to reach the title match. 

Orlando City has looked like a completely different team from its five previous years of MLS existence. Manager Oscar Pareja has brought a new life into the squad and it established itself as one of the contenders from the tournament's opening game. 

Portland is looking to add to its trophy case that includes the 2015 MLS Cup, while Orlando is in search of its first-ever piece of hardware as an MLS club.


MLS is Back Tournament Final Information

Date: Tuesday, August 11

Start Time: 8:30 p.m. ET


Live Stream: ESPN.com or ESPN app

Odds (via Oddschecker): Portland (+160, bet $100 to win $160), Orlando (+140)



Portland enters with an advantage in trophy-winning experience in MLS. 

Jorge Villafana, Diego Valeri and Diego Chara were part of the squad that hoisted MLS Cup in 2015. 

Seven members of the current squad were in the starting lineup for the 2018 MLS Cup defeat to Atlanta United. 

Valeri and Chara bring the most experience to the pitch, but it has been the players alongside them in midfield who have been Portland's top performers at MLS is Back. 

Sebastian Blanco produced one goal and three assists in the group stage and followed that up with two tallies and a pair of helpers in the knockout round. 

Eryk Williamson has been a revelation next to Chara, as he has made countless key stops in front of the back four to limit the threat on goal. 

In the semifinal win over Philadelphia, Williamson thwarted the movement of Brenden Aaronson and Jamiro Monteiro and made life hard on the Union to create anything in the middle of the attacking third. 

Williamson and Chara will be tasked with achieving that again Tuesday versus Nani, Chris Mueller and the Orlando City attack. 

Nani extended his incredible tournament form Thursday with a pair of goals in the semifinal win over Minnesota United.

The former Manchester United player has the most individual talent in either lineup, and the final result could come down to how he performs. 

If Portland continues to restrict space in the middle of the field, Nani and Mueller may be limited to sending in crosses from the wings, if they can get those off against Villafana and Chris Duvall. 

While Nani has received most of the spotlight, Orlando's defense has quietly put together a strong tournament. 

The Lions have not allowed more than one goal in any of their six games. In the 2019 season, they were gashed for 52 goals. 

Part of that success should be credited to Pareja, who won a Supporters' Shield and U.S. Open Cup with FC Dallas and reached the playoffs once with the Colorado Rapids.

If Ruan and others limit the attacking space left for Valeri, Blanco and others, we could see a defensive chess match in play Tuesday. 

Portland holds a slight advantage because of its previous experience, and if it contains the threat of Nani, all it could need is one goal in 90 minutes to earn the title.

Prediction: Portland 1-0


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Statistics obtained from MLSSoccer.com