Pandora Hughes has all the latest betting news on the MLS playoffs
The regular season is over and only 14 teams remain in the battle for the MLS Cup, which gets underway on November 20 with the first round of playoffs.
|MLS Cup Winner|
|New York RB||42.00||41.00||40.00|
|Real Salt Lake||52.00||51.00||55.00|
Who do Bettors Favor?
MLS betting fans checking out the best Canadian betting sites will find that there are plenty of big prices to be found. Although the New England Revolution are the obvious favourites, there is also lots of support for the West’s leading teams, Colorado and Seattle.
Philadelphia Union are another leading contender, although their price varies significantly across the bookmakers. At the other end of the scale, NY Red Bulls and Real Salt Lake are the least popular teams with bettors representing the Eastern and Western conferences respectively.
Who Missed Out?
One of the most remarkable features of this year’s MLS is the fact that many of the biggest spenders in the league have not made the cut. In fact, out of the five who spend the most on salaries – LAFC, LA Galaxy, Atlanta, Toronto and Inter Miami, it is only Atlanta who have reached the playoffs, and they are widely regarded as big outsiders.
In the West, we saw all three Texas representatives miss out on the playoffs, along with all three teams that play their soccer in California. In the East, DC United, Columbus and Montreal fell just short of the top seven and will miss out on the postseason as well as Toronto, Inter Miami, Cincinnati and Chicago.
Best of the East
The best hope in the East, according to the bookies, are the New England Revolution, who ran away with the Supporters Shield, ending up 19 points ahead of the next team in the East and an impressive 12 points better than all the teams in the West. A first-ever Shield could be seen as Revs fans as a good omen as they hope to win the Cup for the first time, having featured in five finals.
But bettors checking out the recent history of MLS will be aware that the record of Shield winners is not great. None out of the last three have lifted the MLS Cup. And this year, the fact that teams only played two cross-conference fixtures also makes predicting the playoffs particularly difficult.
It is notable that the Revs had mixed returns from their games against West teams, losing against Dallas and beating Colorado, and there is enough uncertainty in the way these playoffs will develop that wagering on them at short odds seems unappealing.
Nashville may offer a better option. They ended the regular season with the leading defensive record in the East, and their defensive resilience may well prove invaluable as they battle through the playoffs. Their good record against the Revs, which saw them pick up a win and a draw out of their two games in the regular season also means they will be confident if they meet in the Conference Final.
Best Bet in the West
Colorado Rapids ended the regular season in top position in the West, though they had to fight to the end against Seattle, Kansas and Portland. Eventually, all three of the main rivals to the Rapids lost their form at the end of the campaign, which helped Colorado to hang on.
Portland should meet Colorado in the Conference semi-finals but the Timbers failed to win either of their regular-season meetings, and Colorado will be the favourites for that contest. In the other semi-final, Kansas are likely to meet Seattle, and when it comes to this stage of the MLS season, there are few more reliable teams than the Sounders, who are regulars in the final stages of the playoffs.
Seattle will need to find their best form to beat Kansas, but if they can do that, their excellent record against Colorado will give them confidence and I think they can reach the MLS Cup Final once again.
Who will win the MLS Cup?
A Nashville versus Seattle Cup Final would be an absorbing clash between MLS veterans and relative newcomers. Nashville’s second season in the league has developed the success of their first, which saw them reach the Conference Semi-Finals, and they seem to be an even more solid outfit this year, as head coach Gary Smith has shaped a dependable outfit rooted in a strong defence.
But the Sounders are able to match Nashville for defensive resilience and conceded the same number of gals as their Eastern counterparts. A Nashville versus Seattle Final is therefore likely to be a scrappy and defensive-dominated contest, but Seattle have a depth of experience that Nashville cannot match. The Sounders have appeared in four of the last five MLS finals and unlike New England, they’ve won two of them. That experience on the biggest stage will be invaluable and gives Seattle a clear edge.