Editor’s Note: American betting odds are based on $100 bets. Favorites are expressed by a lower number, heavily favorited teams will often be expressed with (-). So, for example, if the betting odds for a club are -150, you would need to bet $150 to make $100. Whereas, if the odds are +150, a $100 bet would payout $150
It was only two short days ago that Massive Report published an article reporting that the Columbus Crew was favored to win the MLS Cup Final this Satuday against defending champions Seattle Sounders. Less than 24 hours after that article was published, however, news that Darlington Nagbe and Pedro Santos were both not medically cleared to compete in the MLS Cup Final shook the landscape of the upcoming match.
The loss of two of the Black & Gold’s key starting players can’t be overstated. Santos has been one of the most consistent forces on the pitch for the Crew this season, netting six goals and eight assists in the 2020 campaign. His presence was key during the Eastern Conference semifinal when late into extra time, the Portuguese midfielder was able to break through the Nashville SC defense and scored the game-winning goal.
Nagbe’s experience playing in, and winning, the MLS Cup Finals was a vital asset to Columbus’ game. Another player for the Black & Gold whose name has been etched into the scoresheet during the postseason with his 46th minute goal against the New York Red Bulls that helped the crew escape the first round of the MLS Cup playoffs with a 3-2 victory. His ability to possess and distribute has been vital to head coach Caleb Porter’s vision for the way Black & Gold plays soccer. Columbus’ record alone reflects Nagbe’s importance for the club: with the Crew going 9-2-3 when the star midfielder starts a match, 3-4-2 when he doesn’t.
The absence of these two key assets for Columbus has oddsmakers looking at Saturday’s matchup at MAPFRE Stadium in a different light, and the betting lines have shifted significanty.
Columbus Crew: L-W-W-W-W
Seattle Sounders: D-W-W-W-W
MLS regular season record:
Columbus Crew SC: 12-5-6 (PPG 1.78)
Seattle Sounders FC: 11-6-5 (PPG 1.77)
A look at the betting odds before the medically unable to compete report was published showed the Crew as favorites to win it all, but not by much. Our initial report stated the following:
With both clubs so evenly matched throughout the regular season, it is virtually impossible to label either a clear favorite to leave MAPFRE Stadium as champion. However, as a result of Columbus playing host to Seattle, the oddsmakers have labeled the defending champions as the underdogs, albeit slightly.
In the closest margins for a Crew match all season, the Black & Gold are favored to win the MLS Cup +156 to Seattle’s +172.
In a disappointing update for Columbus fans, the new favorite heading into the MLS Cup Final is the defending champion. Seattle is now favored to win Saturday’s match by a significantly larger margin od +134 to Crew’s +198.
The most dramatic shift, however, comes into play if the match goes into a penalty kick shootout. Originally, Crew was still ever so slightly favored to win if the match went into penalty kicks, however, oddsmakers now heavily favor Seattle should the match end in a draw. The Sounders hold a -149 advantage over the Black & Gold’s +112.
The facts remain the same, the 2020 MLS Cup Final will be the last ever postseason competition to take place in America’s first-ever soccer-specific stadium. And as a result, Saturday will be the final opportunity the Crew will ever have to hoist the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy on the hallowed grounds of the old Crew Stadium. The difference for Columbus now is that the Crew must defy the odds in order to do so.