MLS is Back: Betting Preview for Seattle Sounders vs. San Jose Earthquakes

The only Friday matchup on the MLS is Back tournament schedule is fascinating to say the least.

The Seattle Sounders are an established top-tier club in Major League Soccer and own one of the most lethal attacks led by Jordan Morris, Raul Ruidiaz and Nicolas Lodeiro.

Functioning properly as a trio could be difficult against the man-marking system employed by San Jose Earthquakes manager Matias Almeyda.

Almeyda transformed the Quakes in 2019 and expectations of qualifying for the postseason were much higher entering 2020.

Similar to Thursday's Philadelphia-New York City FC match, Friday's contest could decide which team finishes on top of Group B.

Vancouver and recently-added Chicago are the other members of Group B, and both Seattle and San Jose should be favored in those matchups.

The Sounders are the worthy favorite in the Group B opener, but only one favorite has cashed in the three games already played at ESPN's Wide World of Sports.

Game Information

Start Time: 9 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN

Odds (via DraftKings): Seattle (+112); San Jose (+235); Draw (+240)

Players to Watch

Nicolas Lodeiro, M, Seattle

The chances Ruidiaz and Morris create in the penalty area will likely come from Lodeiro's ability to slither through San Jose's man-marking system.

The Uruguayan midfielder has recorded over 10 assists in each of his last three seasons and earned a pair of handouts in an April 2019 meeting with the Quakes.

San Jose will try to force Lodeiro into turnovers through central midfielders, like Jackson Yueill, but if he gets past them, it may lead Osvaldo Alanis or others to step up from the back line to quell the threat, which may leave space for Ruidiaz and others to strike.

If Seattle does not get much out of Lodeiro in the middle of the field, it still has dangerous options led by Morris on the flanks, but the Quakes could be better suited to deal with the aerial threat than Lodeiro pushing through on the ground.

Cristian Espinoza, M, San Jose

Cristian Espinoza is not the first name that comes up when discussing San Jose's attack, but he could be the most valuable piece Friday.

The Argentinian, who had 13 assists in 2019, faces the toughest attacking matchup against Seattle's full backs Joevin Jones and Kelvin Leerdam.

If Espinoza exploits his one-on-one matchups on the outside, San Jose could carve a path to victory through more attacking chances.

A year ago, Espinoza created eight shots and an assist in two games with Seattle, so he is a bit comfortable with breaking down what the Sounders throw at him.

Best Bet

2nd Half Total Goals Over 1.5 (-113)

We have yet to see a first-half goal at MLS is Back as teams deal with the humidity in Orlando and work back into game form.

If the Quakes play at the same pace they did in 2019, the heat could catch up to them, even though they have been in the bubble the longest of any participant.

Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer is one of the most astute managers in MLS and the halftime adjustments he makes to how Almeyda's system limits his team could turn the final 45 minutes into a free-flowing affair with multiple goals.

Photo courtesy of Major League Soccer.

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