With an earlier than usual start, Major League Soccer is back. With 28 teams set to compete across the two conferences, including new boys Charlotte, Soccer fans across the US should be licking their lips ahead of a campaign that promises to be bigger and better than ever.
With the resumption of US soccer, comes the resumption of US soccer betting. We’ve once again dived in with a view to hitting a few outright plays, looking at the outright betting market in this preview to start with. USA Betting will be concluding this preview with our predictions and MLS Cup futures pick.
Who’s hot in the MLS Cup betting lines?
To start with, let’s look who’s coming in hot in the early betting. Unsurprisingly, given their recent history of dominance in Major League Soccer, the Seattle Sounders, who’ve lifted the MLS Cup twice and been in two additional finals since 2016, are the pre-season favorites to go all the way at odds of +700. The New England Revolution, who were fancied by many to reign supreme overall last term having finished first in the Eastern Conference closely follow the Sounders at odds of +800.
Other teams fancied at this stage are Bob Bradley’s LAFC and 2021 MLS Cup winners New York City FC, both of whom can be supported in the outright market at +1000. The Portland Timbers may turn a few heads with the lines the way they are right now. +2000 on a side that has reached MLS Cup final three times since 2015 is anything but skinny.
The off season is when teams do most of the business and it has not been a quiet three months on that front. There have been comings and goings left, right and center, with players switching teams domestically and others arriving from abroad. There really has been no shortage of eye-catching transfer news.
One of the most recent and eyebrow-raising moves saw Xherdan Shaqiri, scorer of several wonder goals both in the Premier League and at international level, move from Olympique Lyon in France to the Chicago Fire. By adding a player of Shaqiri’s calibre, coach Ezra Hendrickson has given his team a serious boost, and the Swiss attacker isn’t the only attractive move that the Fire have made. Kacper Przybyłko, who scored 35 goals and contributed 13 assists in three seasons for the Philadelphia Union, has also joined, adding genuine offensive pedigree.
Elsewhere, after spending several years bombing up and down the right for Newcastle United in the Premier League, Deandre Yedlin has joined Inter Miami, a signing that should give Phil Neville’s men a combination of pace, energy, and quality in the right full-back area.
Thiago Almada joins Atlanta United from Velez Sarsfield in Argentina, and the youngster arrives with a big reputation. Such a signing is reminiscent of Miguel Almiron, another dynamic South American who joined the Five Stripes from the Argentinian top division, and we all know how well that turned out.
The biggest move in the off-season is undoubtedly Toronto’s capture of Italian sensation Lorenzo Insigne, who will join up with the Canadian franchise when his Napoli contract ends in July. The diminutive winger, who sparkled as Italy won the euros last summer, will add a touch of genuine class not only to Toronto but to Major League Soccer in general, much like his countryman Sebastian Giovinco did a few years ago.
Who to bet on for MLS Cup winner?
Each season, another team seems to emerge as a contender, and we now have a handful of franchises that appear to be in with a chance as far as MLS glory is concerned. Serial finalists, Seattle will obviously be popular, and under the astute guidance of Brian Schmetzer, it’s easy to see why, though given the volatility of MLS and the general unpredictability of soccer in general, odds of +700 seem slightly skinny.
It’s not easy to put bettors off taking a punt on the New England Revolution after their exploits last season. Like the Sounders, under a coach of Bruce Arena’s pedigree, the Revs won’t be far away. However, the most appealing at the current odds if Los Angeles FC. Ever since they arrived in Major League Soccer, Bob Bradley’s western conference warriors have looked like MLS Cup winners, and this could finally be their year.
As they finished in ninth last season, we saw LAFC flounder somewhat, missing the playoffs for the first time in their existence, but it must be said that they were the recipients of no shortage of bad luck, and it would be somewhat foolish to assume that they’ll fall short of the postseason this time around.
After all, despite finishing outside the top seven in the Western Conference during the 2021 campaign, Bradley’s men were the best team in the whole of Major League Soccer in terms of expected goals created, averaging an impressive 1.78 per 90 minutes. They let too many goals in, which turned out to be costly, though as mentioned in this preview above, a lot of that was down to not really getting the rub of the green, and it’s not as if they were up there with the worst in terms of chances presented to the opposition. In fact, only two Western Conference teams conceded fewer expected goals than LAFC.
During the off-season, positive moves have been made by Bradley, who had brought it not one but two defense-minded midfielders, to shore things up. The players arriving have genuine MLS pedigree: Kellyn Acosta was integral to Colorado’s success last season, while Ilie Sanchez was always a big part of everything good at Sporting Kansas City, who finished third in the Western Conference last time around. Add this extra security to the explosive quality that LAFC have in attack, and they may just have found the missing piece of the puzzle. Coming to our MLS betting predictions, at odds of +1000, this preview is willing to wager that they have: