Major League Soccer is the premier North American football competition and has fans of the sport on the edge of their seats from March right through until December. The league boasts some of the biggest names from both local shores and overseas and continues to grow with the addition of two new teams in 2017. The race for the MLS Cup is proving to be as exciting and unpredictable as ever.
While predictions that Toronto FC would dominate in the East look to be accurate, 2016 cellar-dwellers Chicago Fire have shocked everyone by rising to the top of the ladder, while other teams like traditional heavyweights LA Galaxy have struggled for form.
MLS Cup Futures 2017
Although some teams have already established themselves as title contenders in 2017, there are still plenty of games left in the season for the fringe sides to get on a winning streak and jump into the playoff picture. As the clubs battle it out, their outright odds will continue to fluctuate, and you can be sure that we will keep you up to date with all the ups and downs in the betting markets.
Below you will find a table outlining the odds of all the 22 sides in the MLS, followed by an in depth discussion on which teams present good value (and who you should steer clear of).
2016 was a year in which the MLS Cup was contested by two complete outsiders in Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders. The Reds from Toronto have proven that their run to the final was no fluke with a dominant display in 2017 so far, while the Sounders have always been in contention, and have risen to take a share of the lead on the Western Conference table in recent weeks. Could we see the same teams back there again this year?
Perhaps not. The fact that the sides that finished fifth and seventh respectively made it to the MLS Cup final last season proves just how difficult it is to pick a winner in this competition, and the final position on the league table does not always equate to MLS Cup success. Injuries, squad depth, suspensions and form are the key factors to consider when looking to pick an overall winner, while finals experience can also play a big part.
As it stands, Toronto FC and New York City FC represent the bookmakers’ favourites to win the MLS Cup, and as both are almost certain to make the playoffs they are a safe bet. However, only one of those teams can actually make it to the final match, so you would also be wise to look at FC Dallas, the best chance from the west. The big movers throughout the year have been Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo, who were among the bottom eight teams in terms of odds prior to the commencement of the season.
Best Bets For The MLS Cup Outright
The Favourites – Toronto FC
It is hard to go past Toronto FC on the above table. They are absolutely dominating the league at the moment, sitting four points clear at the top of the overall MLS table and look unbeatable at home. At odds of +600, they still represent some real value even though they are favourites.
As long as Sebastian Giovinco can keep fit, this team should continue their surge towards the Supporter’s Shield and be well placed when they enter the playoffs.
The Reds have the best home record, the best goal difference and the second best defensive record in the MLS. The only concern is that they may have hit top form too early in the season. The last team to win the Supporters’ Shield and the MLS Cup in the same season were the LA Galaxy in 2011, a feat that has occurred just three times in the last fifteen seasons.
According to the table, FC Dallas are the pick of the Western Conference challengers, although have had a torrid time of it in the MLS Playoffs in recent years in spite of their great regular season form. The Texans are looking to top the standings in the west for the third consecutive season, yet have not been able to carry their form all the way into the final game.
Will this be the year they reverse the trend?
If you’re looking for a value pick, your best bet is a team from the east like Sporting KC (+1000). Kansas are currently sitting pretty in a share of the lead atop the Western Conference table and have the best defensive record in the MLS. While the East looks to contain the better teams so far in 2017, Seattle showed us last year what a good defensive performance can achieve in a big match.
Speaking of the Sounders, they have rocketed into a share of the lead with Dallas and KC, and are almost assured of another appearance in the playoffs. They have already proved that they can go deep in the postseason and at a price of +1200 they represent double the money you would get for Toronto FC, with just as much chance of making the final. Can they go back-to-back?
Toronto FC’s dominance in the east makes it hard to see any other team from that conference making it to the MLS Cup Final. For that reason, the best chances of causing an upset victory this year come from the west, a conference that is proving to be extremely tight and will throw up a few surprises in the playoffs. The Vancouver Whitecaps are one such outsider that have had a reasonably inconsistent season yet find themselves in a very promising position as the regular season comes to a close. They have two games in hand on the top teams in the Western Conference and only need to sneak into the playoffs to be in with a chance of MLS Cup glory. +1600 is really good value for this team. Imagine an all-Canadian final!
Approach With Caution!
While the above teams are worth considering, there are a few teams on the list that should be backed at your own risk. In spite of their excellent season so far, New York City FC will not make it to this year’s MLS Cup final for the simple reason that they will surely come across Toronto FC if they want to win the Eastern Conference final.
Toronto have had the wood on the New Yorkers for a while, particularly in the playoffs last season. I can’t see a blue victory in a fixture between the two sides.
Similarly, Chicago Fire find themselves near the top of the Eastern Conference standings and as such are among the top three chances to win the MLS Cup according to the bookmakers. Their record in 2017 has been impressive, but they are overachieving and cannot maintain their current form for the remainder of the year.
The Fire project is certainly one to watch, however 2018 is more likely to be their year.
MLS Soccer Future Bets Explained
Betting on futures represents a departure from the most popular type of wagering, which typically involves betting on a single match or stringing together several wagers into a parley or accumulator. Predicting the outcome of long-term events, like an eastern conference championship, Supporters’ Shield, MVP or MLS Golden Boot winner, requires solid knowledge of the league, as well as a bit of luck. Anything can happen over the course of a half year, which leads to the certainly of a few unpredictable outcomes during any campaign.
For MLS Cup futures, you’ll notice that the odds for each team are relatively high, even for teams considered favorites. Winning an MLS Cup is extremely difficult even for the best sides, so the payout you receive when you win your futures bet tends to be far more profitable than less ambitious types of wagering. Few predicted Seattle’s first MLS Cup championship, leading to solid winnings for anyone who placed money on the Sounders.
If you don’t have a good grasp of the potential outright winner, you can still wager on which team will win their conference, or bet on individual player achievements. In some cases, you may want to keep track of line movements. Waiting for a dip in odds on the team you think will win can increase the payout you receive, creating added value for patient punters.