Another year of thrills and spills across the soccer world have come to a close. From New York to Los Angeles, the MLS has once again served up plenty of great goals, shocking tackles and more than enough memorable moments to showcase exactly why soccer is becoming more and more important to American sports fans.
With both the Eastern and Western regular seasons now at an end, we thought this would be a great time to go through everything you need to know about this year’s MLS Cup Play Offs.
The MLS regular season kicked off on March 2nd 2019 and ended on October 6th. Twenty-four teams were competing in the competition, with the league being broken up into two groups of twelve labelled the ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ Conferences, depending on where a side is geographically based.
Every team competes in 34 games across the season, with the overall winners with the best record being presented with this year’s ‘Supporter’s Shield’. The New York Red Bulls relinquished their title of Supporter’s Shield Champions to Los Angeles FC, who claimed their first Shield with 72 points across the season.
However, unlike the Premier League or La Liga in Europe, the season doesn’t simply end after the league campaign. Instead, the top fourteen teams across the league are drawn into a knockout tournament known as the ‘MLS Cup’ to see who will be the overall champion.
The first round of Eastern and Western Conference fixtures take place between October 19th and October 20th, with the semi-finals between October 23rd and 24th, and the Conference finals taking place on October 29th and October 30th.
The MLS Cup game, the final match of the entire season and the overall season decider, is on November 10th.
The four leading favourites for an MLS Cup win are: Los Angeles FC at 6/4 (+150), New York City FC at 9/2 (+450), Atlanta United at 10/1 (+1000) and the Seattle Sounders at 14/1 (1400).
In the Western Conference, there was absolutely no stopping Carlos Vela and LAFC as they romped to their first Supporter’s Shield, netting 72 points at 2.12 points per game. As winners, they jump straight into the semi-final bracket.
Seattle Sounders, Real Salt Lake and Minnesota FC all finished in second, third and fourth respectively and will take a home advantage into their games against LA Galaxy, Portland Timbers and FC Dallas who make up the remaining numbers.
In the East, NYFC saw off competition from Atlanta United, Philadelphia Union and Toronto to take first place. D.C. United, New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution all have their work cut out for them with the away draw.
Atlanta United (-220) vs. New England Revolution (+550). October 19th – 1PM ET
Seattle Sounders (-125) vs. FC Dallas (+333). October 19th – 3.30 ET
Toronto FC (-180) vs. D.C. United (+500) – October 19th – 6PM ET
Real Salt Lake (+107) vs. Portland Timbers (+240) – October 19th – 10PM ET
Philadelphia Union (-109) vs. New York Red Bulls (+280) – October 20th – 3PM ET
Minnesota United (+101) vs. LA Galaxy (+237) – October 20th – 8:30 ET
No side in MLS history has ever racked up as many points as LAFC’s 72 this year and they rightfully enter this year’s Play Offs as nailed on favourites. If you’re looking for a team to back, LAFC’s +150 odds could be the best place to start.
Atlanta United are the current MLS Champions and certainly possess a frightening amount of talent however. The combination of this talent with the wealth of experience in the roster could make for an interesting punt at +1000.
LA Galaxy have a real star-studded line-up and are the competition’s most successful side but find themselves as heavy outsiders coming into the Play Offs. Despite boasting the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimović, you can price LA Galaxy as outright winners at +2000, which could be a shrewd punt if they can get the big Swede scoring.
LAFC – +150
NYFC – +450
Atlanta United – +800
Philadelphia Union – +1200
Seattle Sounders – +1200
Minnesota United – +1600
LA Galaxy – +2000
New England Revolution – +2000
New York Red Bulls – +2000
Real Salt Lake – +2000
D.C. United – +2500
Portland Timbers – +2500
Toronto FC – +2500
FC Dallas – +4000