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 as ever.
While predictions that Toronto FC would dominate in the East have proven to be accurate, they will face strong competition from an in-form Seattle Sounders side who have shown the other Western Conference teams exactly how to navigate through a finals campaign. It’s hard to believe that we have a rematch of the 2016 MLS Cup final on our hands! Who will win it this time?
MLS Cup Futures 2017
Few could have predicted that the 2016 finalists would be back in the hot seat before the start of the season, with teams like FC Dallas, New York City FC and Sporting Kansas City all highly rated. Below are the odds on both Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders to lift the MLS trophy in 2017.
It all comes down to this – two teams, one each from the Eastern and Western Conference, have made it through to the final match in the postseason. While it is surprising to see TFC and Seattle contesting the MLS Cup final for the second consecutive season, you could sense once the pair made it to the playoffs that they would inevitably come up against each other in early December.
Incredibly, two teams coming up against each other in consecutive MLS Cup finals is nothing new. It has happened on two occasions since the inception of the league in 1996 – Houston defeated New England in both the 2006 and 2007 finals, consigning the Revolution to three-straight cup defeats, while the Dynamo were on the other side of the coin when they lost the 2011 and 2012 finals to the LA Galaxy.
Seattle will be buoyed by the fact that no team in history has avenged a MLS Cup final loss in a MLS Cup final. They will be aiming to become just the fourth team to claim back to back MLS Cup titles and if successful will be the only side to win consecutive finals on their opponents’ turf. They also come into the match in great form; their 5-0 demolition of Houston over two legs was impressive and should send a message to Toronto FC.
Yet they come into the match as slight underdogs at +100, presumably because Toronto FC will have the home ground advantage. Oh, and perhaps it’s also because the Reds have had the most successful season of all time in terms of points gained and the best player in the regular season according to the Audi player index. The Canadian side will start at -138; the odds on both teams reflect what is set to be another close match between the now great rivals.
So who represents the best value here? Will you pick the hometown heroes or will you back the Sounders to make it two in a row? Below we outline the chances of both teams and pick a winner.
Best Bet For The MLS Cup Outright
The Favourites – Toronto FC
Not much has changed since early on in the season – Toronto FC are still the best chance of winning this year’s MLS Cup and have not been much lower than +500 all season. They are favourites to complete a domestic treble after already claiming the Supporter’s Shield and the Canadian Championship, and at -138 still present reasonable value outright, even though you should definitely have jumped on about ten weeks ago.
The team has broken the MLS record for most regular season points accumulated and scored more goals than any other team, and their home record is outstanding, losing just once in 2017 prior to the playoffs. They did, however, lose their semi-final second-leg match at BMO field against the New York Red Bulls (although this was after Jozy Altidore was sent off), so there is recent history that states the Reds aren’t bulletproof at home.
Jozy Altidore’s half-time shenanigans with New York Red Bulls midfielder and Team USA teammate Sacha Kljestan earned him a red card and a one-match suspension, while Sebastian Giovinco’s dissent (despite being totally warranted) earned him a second yellow card in two matches which left him on the sideline in their conference final first-leg match against Columbus.
The pair looked to be a little rusty in the return leg, which perhaps sums up Toronto’s playoff campaign so far, but the important thing is that they’ve made it to the final and on’t be beaten if they play anywhere near their best next Saturday afternoon. Defensive rock Michael Bradley will once again be crucial for the Reds, although realistically they will need goals to ensure they don’t end up in another penalty shootout against one of the competition’s best goalkeepers.
We still believe Toronto are the team to beat, and you can bet that Greg Vanney will have a few cards up his sleeve, having already guided his team to the MLS Cup Final once before. If you still haven’t placed a wager on the Reds, do not wait too much longer.
The Outsiders – Seattle Sounders
The Reds have already proven that they are extremely unlikely to be beaten over a two-leg fixture, and have been the most dominant side in the league all year, but they will be the first to admit that anything can happen in a one off game like the MLS Cup final. The 2016 Seattle Sounders showed the league that it is certainly not mission impossible to travel West and come home with the cup, as shown in the clip below (look away now Toronto fans).
Clint Dempsey has been the man for Seattle in this postseason to date. Two goals by the veteran talisman against Vancouver in the semi-final, followed by another in the second-leg of the final against Houston on Thursday night. He will once again be the biggest threat to the resolute Toronto FC defence, although Will Bruin has also put his hand up with crucial goals in both matches against the Dynamo.
Seattle will come really close on Saturday night in Toronto. They have easily been the form team in the postseason and have enjoyed a much smoother run to the final than the Reds who did it the hard way in both their conference semi-final and final. Perhaps that will play into the home sides hands; perhaps Toronto FC’s recent high-pressure scenarios will allow them to hold their nerve in the final?
Whatever the result, it’s sure to be a cracking match. We are going with Toronto FC (-138) to win the MLS Cup in 2017, a pick that has not wavered all season.
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 favourites. 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.