The dawn of a new MLS season is upon us and how good it is that soccer is back. After an interrupted and altogether unusual campaign last time around, fans in the US will be hoping things get back to normal in 2021, as will the players, staff and everybody involved with one of the most exciting leagues on the planet.
The opening weekend should be lots of fun, as a host of new signings are set to take to the field across the country, old foes will go head-to-head in an all-Canadian affair in Montreal, David Beckham’s Inter Miami play host to the most successful MLS club of all time, while Houston take on San Jose in Saturday’s curtain raiser. However, before we turn our attention to the games taking place this weekend, it is time to delve into a few outright futures betting markets, namely Top Scorer and MVP.
Top Scorer in MLS 2021
Those looking to lay down a few dollars on this market are somewhat spoilt for choice this year. If you want a sure fire run for your dollars, then look no further than the usual suspects. The likes of Carlos Vela, Raul Ruidiaz and Josef Martinez, both of whom have an MLS Golden Boot in their trophy cabinets, look primed for yet another hot year in MLS.
Elsewhere, there are a few newcomers to the league who are worth keeping in mind. Veteran striker Lisandro Lopez, who rarely struggled for goals during his spell at Lyon in France and who has spent the best part of a decade finding the net with regularity in Argentina, is an eye-catching arrival at Atlanta United, while 23-year-old Dutch forward Nigel Robertha, who netted 20 times in 45 appearances for Bulgarian outfit Levski Sofia, is one to watch at D.C. United.
Brenner (Cincinnati) +2500
Going with one of the proven MLS hitmen, such as Vela, Martinez or Ruidiaz does offer almost guaranteed bang for your buck, but the obvious drawback is short odds. So, here’s one of the bigger priced alternatives.
Brazilian youngster Brenner, who has joined Cincinnati from Sao Paulo having scored 21 goals in his last 39 appearances for the Serie A outfit, is not a player to ignore, despite his age and lack of experience in this league. As we saw last season with the likes of Zelarayan and Reynoso, both of whom made major first-season impacts, it isn’t out of the ordinary for a player to switch South America for the US and do very well at the first time of asking.
During his time in Brazil, where he featured for both Sao Paolo and Fluminense, the 21-year-old scored 26 goals in 43 competitive matches. Such a record must be taken seriously. A final season at Sao Paolo saw the forward average 0.52 goals per 90 minutes, as well as 3.21 shots per 90. In a league far from famous for its sturdy defences, the up-and-coming Brazilian could certainly enjoy himself, especially if he can strike up a connection with maverick attacking midfielder Luciano Acosta, who knows all about MLS from his time with D.C. United.
- So Brenner is worth a wager for top MLS goalscorer in 2021 @ +2500 (25/1) with Bovada Sportsbook.
Alan Pulido (Sporting Kansas City) +2000
At odds of +2000 (20/1), Mexican forward Alan Pulido is worth considering, despite being a relatively inexperienced MLS player. As touched on above, there are no shortage of examples of players stepping into the MLS and hitting the ground running, so much so that they become the driving force behind any relative success enjoyed by their club, and that is exactly what we saw with Pulido when he joined halfway during the previous campaign. In just 11 starts for Sporting Kansas City, the Mexican bagged six goals and five assists, contributions that were vital for SKC in their run to claiming the Western Conference.
Pulido’s career hasn’t been plain sailing, but after failing to settle in Greece, where he still scored five goals in just eight appearances for giants Olympiacos, he returned to his native Mexico, where he banged in 34 goals in 97 appearances for Guadalajara. In a Sporting Kansas City team not short on creativity, the experienced striker should enjoy a fruitful season, one which could easily see him lead the scoring charts.
- So our second leading goalscorer pick and prediction is Alan Pulido @ 20/1 (+2000) with Bovada.
Best Bet for MVP this MLS Season
Much like the top scorer market, the betting is dominated by the big boys. Carlos Vela, Josef Martinez and last season’s MVP Alejandro Pozuelo are all considered favorites to scoop the big individual honour and, given their pedigree, rightly so. However, once again, there appears to be a couple of alternatives who have potentially been slightly overlooked from a betting point of view.
Emanuel Reynoso (Minnesota) +1400
Minnesota exceeded expectations last season by not only reaching the post-season but by nearly going all the way to the final. A big part of their end-of-season form was the inclusion of Emanuel Reynoso, who signed from Boca Juniors and featured 13 times, producing an exceptional average of 0.65 assists per 90 minutes.
The creative playmaker, who looks to get on the ball and dictate play with a swagger, is exactly the type of player capable of bending this league to his will. After bossing games and creating for fun during the latter part of the previous campaign, the 25-year-old should be taken very seriously by those looking to find a value bet in the MVP market.
- So we recommend Emanuel Reynoso for MLS MVP in 2021 @ +1400 (14/1) with Bovada.