MLS Cup Final – LAFC vs Philadelphia Union Predictions, Betting Picks, Preview: Philly The Value Play

Daniel GazdagAfter a season of thrills and spills, it all comes down to this. The big game, the game that every Major League Soccer team wants to be a part of. It is the MLS Cup Final 2022 (4pm ET Saturday; TV: Live on Fox & Unimas).

Can LAFC finally get their hands on the coveted trophy? Or will the Philadelphia Union cause an upset at Banc of California Stadium? Read our MLS Cup Final predictions and full preview with betting picks.

How did they get here?

It is quite appropriate that the final will be played out between the two teams that topped Major League Soccer’s east and west conferences. During the regular season both were very impressive. Once it comes down to the playoffs though, it is often a lottery, and we’ve seen before that conference winners can come unstuck when it comes to knockout soccer, but not this time.

For LAFC, they were up against it straight away, facing their city rivals LA Galaxy in the first round of the playoffs. We all know that derby games rarely go to plan, and it was never going to be easy, but the men in black showed their quality, especially in the final third, winning three goals to two. That win propelled them onto bigger and better things, as they made light work of dismantling Austin FC last time out, scoring three and conceding none. They put together a performance that leaves them well placed to hit the ground running in this final.

For the Philadelphia Union, it was a more workmanlike performance first time out in the playoffs. FC Cincinnati were determined to stand strong and frustrate Jim Curtin’s men, and they did for nearly an hour, but the Philly boys had the nous to get the job done. Like Saturday’s hosts, they too came alive in the semifinals, beating last year’s MLS Cup winners New York City FC by three goals to one. Can they do the same to the team that has been the favorite with the most trusted of the U.S. sports betting websites to claim this prestigious prize all season long?

Prolific winners at home

With this fixture being in their own backyard, the LAFC boys will be hugely confident. They have won so many games on home soil this season, winning 11 of their last 12 at Banc of California Stadium.

In recent times, not only have they flexed their offensive muscles, by scoring no shortage of goals, notching 17 in their last seven at home, but they have performed well defensively too, conceding only four goals during that time. They are hard to face because they simply put teams under great pressure, not just by playing forward-thinking soccer, but by firing off lots of shots. Only one team took more shots during the regular season, and no team registered more shots on target.

Visitors won’t be fearful of sitting back

LAFC like to dominate at home, it’s how they play. They’ll be proactive, they’ll try to dictate possession and put the opposition under pressure, and they’re very good at getting results that way. The problem they might find is that the Union know how to thrive against such teams.

Against NYCFC last time out, Philly were more than happy to sit back, soak up the pressure and counterattack, which they did with devastation. They have a strong forward line, with Gazdag, Uhre and Carranza scoring 46 goals between so far in 2022, so they know that if they can keep things tight, they are always likely to do the damage at the other end of the field.

Also, earlier in the campaign, the Union visited Banc of California Stadium and more than held their own, tying 2-2. Arguably, they had the better of the contest too, so write Saturday’s visitors off at your peril.

Not much between them

If we look at the head-to-head record for this fixture, then we can see that there is often little between the teams. In fact, they have met four times since LAFC joined Major League Soccer back in 2018, and the last three of those have ended all-square. Each on the last two meetings at Banc of California Stadium have ended in a tie also.

An interesting stat for those who like to bet on goals is that both teams have scored in each of the four previous renewals. Another stat is that the Philadelphia Union have never beaten LAFC. Back in 2018, LAFC won 4-1 at this venue, the only win this fixture has ever produced.

Visitors the value play?

Many bettors will find it tough to oppose LAFC here and rightly so. After all, their home record speaks for itself, and having that home advantage when it comes to MLS Cup Final is huge, let’s be honest. However, if we look at the current odds, it’s easy to think that the Philly boys deserve a little more respect.

LAFC are one of the big boys of MLS soccer, but so are the Union now, plus the visitors know how to approach these fixtures. When they came here earlier in the campaign, they didn’t win but in tying they left the field with a +0.3 expected goal supremacy.

Moreover, one problem that LAFC have, and this is crucial, is that when teams get seriously organised, sit back, and soak up pressure, they do get frustrated and often misfire. Nashville SC won here not long ago by deploying such tactics, while earlier in the season, both the Portland Timbers and the Philadelphia Union themselves got positive results playing in the same manner.

At the end of the day, this preview is talking about the two best teams in Major League Soccer right now, and it is great for the game and the league that they have both made it to the final. It really could go either way, but at value odds, there is lots to like about supporting the visitors. So for our MLS Cup Final betting predictions, it is just the one betting pick for this LAFC vs Philly clash: