Major League Soccer is the top level in both the United States and Canada, and consists of of 23 teams — 20 from the United States and 3 from Canada. These 23 teams are divided into two conferences, with 11 teams in the Eastern Conference and 12 teams in the Western Conference. The regular season runs from March to October, as each side plays 34 games, 23 against the teams in its’ conference and 11 against sides from the opposite conference.
At the end of the regular season, the best team earns a Supporters’ Shield award, while the six best-placed teams from each conference enter the playoffs with one game per round where the team with a better record from the regular season has the home advantage. The winner of the MLS Final earns the MLS Cup and the ticket thtoe CONCACAF Champions League.
The MLS was established in 1996 and in the first ten years it suffered financially due to a low marketing rating. However, in this decade, it rapidly increased its’ popularity around the United States, bringing more and more fans to the stadiums. The most successful team of all time is Los Angeles Galaxy with five titles, also winning the Supporters’ Shield on four occasions.
DC United has won the MLS Cup four times, while the San Jose Earthquakes, Houston Dynamo, and Sporting Kansas City all have won a couple of MLS Cup trophies thus far. Interestingly, the MLS is one of the few soccer leagues in the world that don’t use the promotion and relegation system, so the lowest-ranked teams continue playing in the league next season.
How To Bet On The MLS Cup
Every season we see a lot of high-quality players coming to the league to improve the quality of the game. Many teams around the league prefer an attacking approach which leads to numerous exciting encounters and a bunch of goals on both sides of the pitch. The bookmakers are well aware of this trend, so the odds on the over of 2.5 goals are not so attractive going from -250 up to -150, according to BetDSI Sportsbook, but the frequency is what’s important to the bettors as the vast majority of MLS teams continue to bag goals on a regular basis. This year, one of the greatest strikers ever, Zlatan Ibrahimovic joined LA Galaxy, while DC United signed the English legendary forward Wayne Rooney.
The 2018 MLS season has passed its’ middle point, and in 257 games, we saw 825 goals (3.21 per contest), far more than in the top five European leagues. Almost 65 percent of the games had at least three goals, while 42 percent had at least four, and the odds on the over of 3.5 goals can go up to +150. The home team won 53 percent of the matches which is another interesting fact.
These are all good reasons for the increasing popularity of the MLS among the bettors, as wagering on the totals seems like the best pick, but the bettors can also lay odds on the MLS futures. They can pick up the potential MLS Cup winner or wager on the leagues top goalscorer.
MLS Betting Picks and Predictions
Toronto FC, the defending champions, got off to a slow start and is sitting in the ninth spot of the Eastern Conference, six points behind the sixth-placed New England Revolution. The Seattle Sounders are in the similar situation, sitting in the eighth place of the Western Conference with an 8-5-9 record and a goal difference of 24:25, five points behind Real Salt Lake in the sixth spot. At this moment, both sides are +6600 underdogs to win the title.
Atlanta United is the biggest favorite to win the 2018 MLS Cup with the odds at +400, as the Five Stripes are currently topping the Eastern Conference with a 14-6-4 record and a 50:28 goal difference. Joseph Martinez has already bagged 26 goals, 11 more than his closest rival Zlatan Ibrahimovic from LA Galaxy.
With the experienced tactician Gerardo Martino at the helm, Atlanta United is playing an attacking brand of soccer, but is also well-organized at the back. The New York Red Bulls at +500 and New York City FC at +700 both possess some great individuals among their squads, so these two sides will battle with Atlanta United for the pole position in the East.
On the other side of the country, FC Dallas is leading the way with a 12-6-4 record and a 36:28 goal difference and the bookies set +600 odds on the Toros to win the 2018 MLS Cup. FC Dallas doesn’t have expensive superstars on the squad, but with a reliable defense and quick counter-attacking, the Toros seem like a tricky opponent to beat.
The Portland Timbers at +900 and Sporting Kansas City at +1200 are currently behind FC Dallas at the Western Conference table, but both could make a run at the title. Two teams from Los Angeles — LA Galaxy and Los Angeles FC — have some remarkable players and should be big contenders to win the 2018 MLS Cup as well. Both are listed at +900.
2018 MLS Cup Winner: Los Angeles Galaxy
Supporters Shield Winner: Atlanta United