Major League Soccer betting guide
IT’S not quite in the class of the big four, but Major League Soccer is one of the fastest growing sporting competitions in America.
The USA’s premier football competition – yes, we called it football, even though it’s soccer in our country – has attracted some of the finest talents from across the world – albeit most at the end of their glittering careers.
The 27 teams in the MLS are owned by a single body and are franchised out, with the league having overarching say in how the clubs are run. Kind of like a fast food chain, if you will.
From humble beginnings – born in 1993 and starting off with 10 teams in its inaugural season 1996 – the league has more than doubled its teams and expanded its reach across the United States and into Canada.
And the competition is by no means done yet. The MLS has expanded significantly since 2005, with the total numbers of teams rising from 10 to some 27. The goal is to reach 30 teams split into two conference of 15 – a format used with great success by the NBA.
Legends like David Beckham, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thierry Henry, David Villa, Wayne Rooney and Tim Cahill, among other soccer greats, have played in the MLS, increasing its profile.
And with increased profile comes increased betting interest.
Soccer is already one of the highest-wagered sports on the planet, and that is only a good thing for American punters looking to have a go at the sport on their home shores.
Here’s a look at how the MLS works and where to start if you want to have a bet.
How do I bet on the MLS?
Before you even contemplate putting one red cent on a Major League Soccer game, it is imperative that you make sure you can actually afford it. Make sure all your bills are paid, the kids are fed and the mortgage or rent is covered. Once you have ticked all those boxes, it’s time to play. The first thing you need to do is find a reputable online betting site to place your bet with.
There are thousands upon thousands of sports betting sites across the world wide web, they are based all over the world, but beware – not all of them are legit. Fortunately, we’ve scoured the the online world to find the most secure bookmakers who will look after your bets – and your money – while providing a wide variety of markets, with the best odds and promotions available. Here they are:
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How many teams are in the MLS?
There are 27 teams in Major League Soccer, with a plan to expand to 30 teams in the near future. Charlotte FC (2022) and St Louis City (2023) are confirmed additions, while Sacramento Republic FC is the frontrunner to become the 30th side in the competition.
As is the case in most major US sporting leagues, the MLS is split into two separate conferences – East and West:
|Atlanta United||Mercedes-Benz Stadium||2017|
|Chicago Fire||Solider Field||1998|
|FC Cincinnati||TQL Stadium||2019|
|Columbus Crew||Lower.com Field||1996|
|DC United||Audi Field||1996|
|Inter Miami||DRV PNK Stadium||2020|
|CF Montreal||Saputo Stadium||2012|
|Nashville SC||Nissan Stadium||2020|
|New England Revolution||Gillette Stadium||1996|
|New York City||Yankee Stadium||2015|
|New York Red Bulls||Red Bull Arena||1996|
|Orlando City||Exploria Stadium||2015|
|Philadelphia Union||Subaru Park||2010|
|Toronto FC||BMO Field||2011|
|Austin FC||Q2 Stadium||2021|
|Colorado Rapids||Dick’s Sporting Goods Park||1996|
|FC Dallas||Toyota Stadium||1996|
|Houston Dynamo||BBVA Stadium||2006|
|Sporting Kansas City||Children’s Mercy Park||1996|
|LA Galaxy||Dignity Health Sports Park||1996|
|Los Angeles FC||Banc of California Stadium||2018|
|Minnesota United||Allianz Field||2017|
|Portland Timbers||Providence Park||2011|
|Real Salt Lake||Rio Tinto Stadium||2005|
|San Jose Earthquakes||PayPal Park||1996|
|Seattle Sounders||Lumen Field||2009|
|Vancouver Whitecaps||BC Place||2011|
How does the MLS season, playoffs and finals work?
Unlike the majority of soccer competitions across the world, the MLS – as with most major sporting leagues in the USA – uses a regular season structure that feeds into playoffs and then finals.
The competition is split into conferences, East and West, with the top six teams after the regular season qualifying for the playoffs.
The top two teams get the first round off, going straight through to the conference semi finals, giving them a week to rest and recuperate, while the bottom four teams battle it out in the first round.
These are elimination matches that see the winner advance and the loser vanquished.
With four teams gone, there are eight left – four in each conference and they play a home and away series – one on each team’s deck – with the result and goal difference used to determine which team advances to the final.
Winner takes all in the cut throat cup final, hosted by the team with the most points in the regular season.
Drawn games go into extra time and then penalties if a winner cannot be found after 90 minutes and the victorious team wins a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Typical bet types available on MLS
Like any sporting competition, a decent bookmaker will have a wide variety of soccer betting markets available. From futures markets, to match odds and exotics in between, if you there’s a result at stake, you should be able to find a bet for it. Here are some the typical betting markets that you might find on any given MLS market.
FUTURES MARKETS & TEAM EXOTICS
Futures markets are exactly that – a result that you bet on that will occur down the track. These include, but are not limited to:
- MLS champion
- Team to make playoffs
- Team to finish on top of the table
- Team to miss the playoffs
Team exotics often come down to wins and goals scored on the season and will usually be presented as a handicap of plus or minus a certain number of wins – ie. if a team wins under or over 12.5 games, or scores under or over 40.5 goals, etc.
Golden Boot: Who will score the most goals for the season?
Season MVP: Which player will be named the Landon Donovan Award winner for best player at season’s end?
MATCH MARKETS & PLAYER EXOTICS
Unlike most other sports, the draw is a real and regular possibility in soccer. That means there are three options, compared to the traditional two in its winners market: Team A to win, the game to draw, or Team B to win. How will you bet?
Means exactly that – you get two bites of the cherry, with either both teams to win, or one of the teams, plus s draw. If any one of your results occurs, you win.
Total game score:
This is presented as an over or under and the stock figure is 2.5 goals. Some online bookmakers will provide alternate scores, such as 1.5, 3.5 or even 4.5, with odds varying accordingly. The total match score between the two teams has to go either over or under for you to win, depending on which way you bet.
Both teams to score:
A simple yes or no answer will do and all you have to do is choose correctly.
Predict how many goals there will be in a bracket. IE: 0-1, 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, etc.
You get several options here and have to pick the game result at both half-time and full-time in the game. So it might be draw at half-time and Team A to win at full-time, etc. It’s basically choosing two results.
Mean’s exactly that, predict exactly what the score will be in the match and you can win big.
Number of corners:
Same thing – how many corners will there be in the match.
Will there be a red card and total number of yellow cards:
It’s a yes or no answer for the red card and the yellows will be presented as an over or under, similar to the total match goals.
First goal scorer, last goal scorer and anytime goal scorer:
These over/under betting markets are good fun, especially when you’re favourite player is involved and are pretty self explanatory.
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List of MLS champions
The MLS Cup is the league’s championship game, played each year between the winners of the two conference finals. The LA Galaxy are the competition’s most successful franchise, winning the title five times. DC United is not far behind with four titles and three teams have two apiece – Sporting Kansas City, Houston Dynamo and San Jose Earthquakes.
|1996||D.C. United||LA Galaxy||3-2|
|1997||D.C. United||Colorado Rapids||2-1|
|1998||Chicago Fire||D.C. United||2-0|
|1999||D.C. United||LA Galaxy||2-0|
|2000||Kansas City Wizards||Chicago Fire||2-0|
|2001||San Jose Earthquakes||LA Galaxy||2-0|
|2002||LA Galaxy||New England Revolution||1-0|
|2003||San Jose Earthquakes||Chicago Fire||4-2|
|2004||D.C. United||Kansas City Wizards||3-2|
|2005||LA Galaxy||New England Revolution||1-0|
|2006||Houston Dynamo||New England Revolution||1-1 (4-3)|
|2007||Houston Dynamo||New England Revolution||2-1|
|2008||Columbus Crew||New York Red Bulls||3-1|
|2009||Real Salt Lake||LA Galaxy||1-1 (5-4)|
|2010||Colorado Rapids||FC Dallas||2-1|
|2011||LA Galaxy||Houston Dynamo||1-0|
|2012||LA Galaxy||Houston Dynamo||3-1|
|2013||Sporting Kansas City||Real Salt Lake||1-1 (7-6)|
|2014||LA Galaxy||New England Revolution||2-1|
|2015||Portland Timbers||Columbus Crew||2-1|
|2016||Seattle Sounders||Toronto FC||0-0 (5-4)|
|2017||Toronto FC||Seattle Sounders||2-0|
|2018||Atlanta United||Portland Timbers||2-0|
|2019||Seattle Sounders||Toronto FC||3-1|
|2020||Columbus Crew||Seattle Sounders||3-0|
List of Landon Donovan MVP Award winners
|1996||Carlos Valderrama (Colombia)||Tampa Bay Mutiny|
|1997||Preki (USA)||Kansas City Wizards|
|1998||Marco Etcheverry (Bolivia)||D.C. United|
|1999||Jason Kreis (USA)||Dallas Burn|
|2000||Tony Meola (USA)||Kansas City Wizards|
|2001||Alex Pineda Chacon (Honduras)||Miami Fusion|
|2002||Carlos Ruiz (Guatemala)||LA Galaxy|
|2003||Preki (USA)||Kansas City Wizards|
|2004||Amado Guevara (Honduras)||MetroStars|
|2005||Taylor Twellman (USA)||New England Revolution|
|2006||Christian Gomez (Argentina)||D.C. United|
|2007||Luciano Emilio (Brazil)||D.C. United|
|2008||Guillermo Barros Schelotto (Argentina)||Columbus Crew|
|2009||Landon Donovan (United States)||LA Galaxy|
|2010||David Ferreira (Colombia)||FC Dallas|
|2011||Dwayne De Rosario (Canada)||D.C. United|
|2012||Chris Wondolowski (USA)||San Jose Earthquakes|
|2013||Mike Magee (USA)||Chicago Fire|
|2014||Robbie Keane (Ireland)||LA Galaxy|
|2015||Sebastian Giovinco (Italy)||Toronto FC|
|2016||David Villa (Spain)||New York City|
|2017||Diego Valeri (Argentina)||Portland Timbers|
|2018||Josef Martinez (Venezuela)||Atlanta United|
|2019||Carlos Vela (Mexico)||Los Angeles FC|
|2020||Alejandro Pozuelo (Spain)||Toronto FC|