Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei has won two MLS Cups with the franchise. Photo by Udeezy (Wiki Commons).
- Despite having MLS Cup odds of +1600 just a month ago, Columbus Crew are now +650 and top of the Supporters’ Shield standings
- Out West, Seattle Sounders have improved from +1400 to +650 having lost just once since exiting the MLS Is Back tournament
- Read on for a look at the contenders for the MLS Cup, full odds and a best bet
As you might expect for any season that went through a months-long hiatus, a reboot in Florida, and is now trying to play out its schedule while dealing with the ongoing realities of a pandemic, the 2020 MLS Cup odds have fluctuated wildly as the year has progressed.
Los Angeles FC are still the betting favorites at +550 after setting a whole host of MLS records on their way to winning the Supporters’ Shield last year. But after the way they flamed out in both the 2019 MLS playoffs – as well as exiting the MLS Is Back tournament at the quarter-final stage – does anyone still have any faith in them for an extended playoff run?
Back-to-back shutout losses this month have hardly helped their cause, so with that being said, here’s a look at three teams that could well be hoisting the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy come December.
2020 MLS Cup Odds
|Team||Odds at DraftKings|
|Los Angeles FC||+550|
|Los Angeles Galaxy||+1000|
|New York City FC||+1400|
|Orlando City SC||+1600|
Odds taken Sept. 15
A Crew for the Ages
With just one regulation loss all year – discounting the shootout defeat at the MLS Is Back tournament – the Columbus Crew have wasted little time in showing that not only are they the class of the Eastern Conference, but the entire MLS as well.
11 weeks down. How’s your squad looking? 👀 pic.twitter.com/sj2dSW7xZV
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) September 14, 2020
Generating an MLS-high 2.18 points per game, and the only team above 2.00, Caleb Porter’s team have risen from +8000 at the start of the year, to +2500 before the season kicked off, to +650 joint second favorites now.
How they have done it is no secret either, with their MLS high plus-14 goal differential fuelled largely by their stifling defense. The Crew have conceded just four goals in their MLS games, five less than the next nearest team. Before last weekend’s 2-2 draw with the Chicago Fire, the team had tied the 2010 Galaxy for fewest goals conceded through the first 10 games of a season.
And while Porter’s club saw its 312-minute shutout streak come to an end in that game, that stingy backline should set them up well for the rest of the regular season, and, more importantly, for a run to the MLS Cup.
Seattle Sounding Off
The defending MLS champions were never going to go away quietly. Certainly not with three championship game appearances in the last four seasons under their belts – a run that includes two titles.
The MLS Is Back tournament might not have ended the way the Seattle Sounders wanted, with a round-of-16 exit against LAFC, but the Sounders quickly got payback with a 3-1 win a few weeks later.
Seattle has been on fire since it left Florida, going 3-1-1, with a 2-1 loss to Portland the only real blemish on its record. More importantly, the Sounders’ offense has found its groove once again.
Let’s take this chance to marvel at the ball movement on this goal. pic.twitter.com/0mxPH9TczV
— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) September 11, 2020
After scoring just five goals in four games in Orlando, Seattle has exploded since, finding the net 16 times in its last five games. At 23 goals, Seattle is now the second-leading scorer in MLS, just behind LAFC (25).
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) September 14, 2020
Designated player Raul Ruidiaz and homegrown US international Jordan Morris have led the way of late, with the pair accounting for seven goals in the last five games between them, placing them both among the top-five 2020 MLS goalscorers. Getting those two firing on all cylinders will be important for any playoff push, as they also accounted for seven of Seattle’s 12 playoff goals in winning last year’s MLS Cup.
Outside of Seattle and Columbus, Philadelphia is worth a look after the Union broke through at the MLS Is Back tournament with a run to the semi-finals, the franchise’s first real taste of playoff success.
— PhilaUnion (@PhilaUnion) September 13, 2020
But while the Union represents good value at +900, the other team listed at +900 may be even better value. Just like Seattle, Toronto FC has been to the championship game in three of the last four seasons, and while they only made the winner’s circle once, they know what it takes to get there.
TFC still has the highest payroll in MLS, and while players such as Michael Bradley may have taken a pay cut this season to reflect his diminishing skills and importance to the team, that leftover money has been used on playmakers such as Argentine Pablo Piatti, who has three goals since the MLS resumed after the MLS Is Back tournament. Of course, his role is supplemented by fellow playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo – the leading assist generator in MLS.
WHAT. A. STRIKE. 💥
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 19, 2020
And once TFC can get Jozy Altidore firing on all cylinders again – he has just one goal in six starts this season – to go along with young MLS Is Back breakout star Ayo Akinola – who had five in the tournament – TFC could be a very tough out come playoff time.
Best Bet: Toronto FC (+900)
For the last 20 years, Paul Attfield has worked in sports media. Starting out in his native Britain with the likes of The Independent, he eventually switched continents, with his work appearing in the likes of the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and Yahoo Sports since.