Colorado Rapids Tapped As Western Conference Favorites For MLS Cup

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Coming off their first regular-season conference title in franchise history, the Colorado Rapids have their eyes on a bigger prize: a second MLS Cup title. They begin that quest Thursday at home versus the Portland Timbers.

The Rapids (17-7-10) set a franchise record for wins and amassed a club-record 61 points, edging out the Seattle Sounders for the No. 1 seed by one point and claiming home-pitch advantage throughout the postseason unless they meet the New England Revolution — who won the Eastern Conference title and the Supporters’ Shield with a league-high 73 points — in the MLS Cup final. Colorado’s previous best finish in the West was runner-up to FC Dallas in 2016.

Robin Fraser has engineered a remarkable turnaround since his arrival during the 2019 season, inheriting a club that started that year 0-9-2. Colorado, which won the MLS Cup in 2010, is in the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2010-11, and its 35 goals conceded in 34 matches were tied for fourth-fewest in MLS. William Yarbrough had a league-leading 13 shutouts for the Rapids while placing fourth with 107 saves.

Most sportsbooks in Colorado have the Rapids as a second-choice favorite behind the Revolution to win the MLS Cup. The most common offering is +450, which can be found at FOX Bet, PointsBet, MaximBet, Betfred, Caesars, and WynnBET. BetRivers is offering +400, and BetMGM checks in at +375. FanDuel, and Betway are both more bullish at +300, while the odds at DraftKings have shortened to +250. FanDuel also has a +110 listing for the Rapids to come out of the West.

Portland (18-13-4) advanced to the conference semifinals with a 3-1 victory over Minnesota United at home Sunday. Sebastian Blanco snapped a 1-1 tie two minutes into the second half as the Timbers shook off allowing an early goal and won their fourth straight game.

Colorado took four of the six points between the teams in the regular season, including a 2-0 victory at home on goals by Dominique Badji and Diego Rubio on either side of halftime. The Timbers have just two victories in 13 all-time visits to Denver (2-7-4) and have been blanked in three of their last six matches there. The winner of this match will play the winner of the Sporting KC-Real Salt Lake semifinal in the conference final.

Rapids a heavy favorite across 3-way match lines

Sportsbooks across the Centennial State have made the Rapids solid favorites, with MaximBet offering the best play on the 3-way line at -143. WynnBET, Betway, and Sports Illustrated sportsbook follow at -150; Caesars and Betfred are both offering -154; and PointsBet, DraftKings, and BetRivers are all just behind at -155.

There are a limited number of listings for the Rapids to advance to the conference finals, with Betway the top option at -290, followed by DraftKings (-295), FanDuel (-340), and BetRivers (-375).

Though the 52 goals allowed by the Timbers were the second most of any team to qualify for the MLS Cup, sportsbooks are not sensing a high-scoring match at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The universal expectation is under 2.5 goals, with the best offerings on the under side coming from Betway (-160), DraftKings (-165), and MaximBet (-167).

The teams, though, have cleared 2.5 goals in six of their last nine meetings, which offers over bettors an inkling of hope. On that side, Caesars, FanDuel, and Betfred are all offering +140 for that play, with Sports Illustrated close by at +138 and BetMGM, Betway, and WynnBET following at +135.

Some early goal-scorer options available

A few sportsbooks have provided early offerings for goal scorers, but with the Rapids having a balanced offense — Michael Barrios led them with eight goals and four other players have at least five — figuring out whom to select will be a challenge.

Barrios is listed either second or third most-likely to score for the Rapids, with FanDuel offering the best anytime goal at +185, followed by PointsBet and Sports Illustrated at +170. Rubio is the top option across the board, ranging anywhere from +155 at FanDuel to as low as +110 at MaximBet.

In between are Badji and Jonathan Lewis, with Badji drawing attention at +170 from FanDuel, +165 at PointsBet, +163 at Sports Illustrated, and +160 at BetRivers. Lewis is the only attacking option getting play at +200 (FanDuel), though FOX Bet and PointsBet are both offering +180.

One longshot play could be an anytime goal from midfielder Jack Price, who can be grabbed at +1600 at FanDuel and +1300 at PointsBet to score his first goal of the season. Price is the team’s designated set-piece taker for free kicks and corner kicks and finished tied for fourth in the league with 12 assists. With the margin of error far thinner in the playoffs, a defensive miscommunication or breakdown on those set pieces could result in one of those well-placed efforts finding its way into the net.

Chris Altruda has been a sportswriter with ESPN, The Associated Press, and STATS over more than two decades. He recently expanded into covering sports betting and gambling around the Midwest.

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