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MLS is Back Tournament: Philadelphia Union vs. Sporting KC preview

Profile Picture: Jason Ence

July 29th, 2020

The MLS is Back Tournament has been whittled down to the final eight teams, and the Philadelphia Union and Sporting KC face off in the first of four quarterfinal matches this week.

A rematch of the 2015 U.S. Open Cup final, both teams squeaked by in their round of 16 matchups. Sporting KC was able to outlast Vancouver in a penalty shootout to settle a scoreless draw, while the Union put together a rock-solid defensive outing to get past the New England Revolution with a 1-0 victory.

Fri, July 31 2020, 12:00 AM

Philadelphia Union

+270

Draw

+265

Sporting Kansas City

-115

Sporting KS full of shots

Sporting has been peppering opposing keepers in the tournament. KC outshot its opposition by 20 attempts in the group stage, and peppered a Whitecaps side that was missing multiple key players.

Sporting unleashed a club-record 37 shots in the contest, including 16 in the first 40 minutes. However, they were unable to score, with just eight shots on target. During the group stage, they put 16 attempts on goal and converted six of those into goals.

Philly has leaned on defense

Philadelphia has gotten to this point thanks to a stellar defense, which has conceded just two goals in four matches. Orlando City was able to secure a 1-1 draw against Philly to edge out the group lead, but the Union gave Orlando all it could handle.

The issue has been a struggle to create chances. Philadelphia has five goals and has put only 16 attempts on target.

This series has been a tight affair. Both teams have won six times in their 17 meetings. I expect this match to be more of the same, as the teams match up well. Both teams have quality and depth from back to front, but they have also shown they can grind out results.

Find value in the total markets

As the two sides have combined for just 11 goals in their eight matches, the value is in the total. This match has the look of a low-scoring result, and possibly even a 1-1 draw. Philadelphia has scored multiple goals just once in the tournament, while Sporting recorded half of its six goals in a 3-2 thriller against lowly Colorado in the group stage.

Since only regulation matters for the total, under 2.5 presents strong value. I also recommend taking the first half draw.

MLS free pick: Draw 1H (+135), Under 2.5 goals (+120)

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