22MLS_BettingOdd-DiegoChara

Seattle Sounders FC and Portland Timbers fans don't agree on much. But if you're at Lumen Field on Saturday chatting with either side's supporters ahead of their Heineken Rivalry Week meeting (4:30 pm ET | FOX, FOX Deportes), they might both tell you this: The road to the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy runs through the Pacific Northwest.

With the hype surrounding other big clubs in the Western Conference, it's easy to overlook the reality that the Sounders and Timbers are the only two clubs to represent the Western Conference at MLS Cup since 2015. Yep. That's it.

Yet, at least in BetMGM's MLS Cup 2022 futures odds, the Cascadia rivals are flying a bit under the radar.

Entering Week 19, here's a look at how each team's price in the betting market has fluctuated so far this season, according to oddsmaker BetMGM. Remember: +700 odds reflect that a winning $100 bet would pay $700 in profit ($800 total).

  • Opening odds: +2500 (tied for 12th-highest odds)
  • April 1: +2200
  • June 3: +3300
  • Current: +3000 (17th-highest odds)

Even though Portland hosted MLS Cup 2021, losing on penalties to New York City FC, oddsmakers didn't particularly fancy their chances at returning to the big game when the season began.

Not much has happened to sway their opinion so far. With the departure of club legend Diego Valeri, prolonged negotiations to re-sign Sebastian Blanco limiting his availability early in the season, and a knee injury keeping 2021 leading scorer Felipe Mora out until recently, perhaps that made sense.

But there are signs since the June international break that Giovanni Savarese's men just might go on a second-half run similar to last year, when they won 10 of their final 14 regular-season matches before storming through the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs.

The Timbers are unbeaten in their last four, winning twice at home in that stretch while earning points at the LA Galaxy and Nashville SC. Jaroslaw Niezgoda has found his scoring boots with four goals in his last five appearances, including the leveler in last weekend's 2-2 draw at Nashville. Blanco is back to full fitness, Eryk Williamson is regaining form, and Savarese is gradually increasing Mora's minutes off the bench.

  • Opening line: +700 (tied for first-highest odds)
  • April 1: +750
  • June 3: +1700
  • Current: +1400 (eighth-highest odds)

Oddsmakers were pretty keen on the Sounders to begin the 2022 season, and it's tough to blame them. They made a rich roster even richer with the offseason free-agent signing of midfielder Albert Rusnak from Real Salt Lake and the return of forward Jordan Morris following an ACL tear that kept him out for most of 2021.

But even while making history by becoming the first MLS team to win the Concacaf Champions League this spring, the Sounders sputtered early in league play. Early emphasis was put on the regional competition, and they defeated Liga MX's Pumas UNAM in the two-legged final.

As expected, Seattle have made up some ground since lifting that trophy, climbing up to seventh place in a jam-packed Western Conference table. There's been a sense of inevitability about their ascension, too, since Seattle have made 13 straight Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.

Can Seattle reach the summit, like they did in 2016 and 2019 with league titles? That won't be easy with 2021 Landon Donovan MLS MVP candidate Joao Paulo out long-term (ACL tear), but getting striker Raul Ruidiaz, defender Xavier Arreaga and more back would sure help their title prospects.