Atlanta United FC will look to repeat as champions as the eight-month long Major League Soccer schedule kicks off its 24th season on March 2.
In just its second year in the MLS Standings, Atlanta United capped off a spectacular run last December by blanking the Portland Timbers in the MLS Cup final. Three months later, the champs, who were led by league MVP Josef Martinez and coach of the year Gerardo Martino, are one of 24 teams chasing soccer glory.
No team has gone back-to-back in the MLS Playoffs since the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2011 and 2012.
FC Cincinnati joins the league for the upcoming season as an expansion franchise, while Minnesota United FC plans to open its first soccer-specific stadium (Allianz Field) in April.
The New York Red Bulls (+400) are the defending Supporters’ Shield champions and the favorites in MLS Future Odds, while Atlanta United (+450) is the second pick by oddsmakers. Orlando City (+12500) is the longest shot on the board (odds provided by Bovada).
Bettors must correctly select a team to win an event that takes place a later time in futures betting. In this case, bettors are selecting the winner of the MLS Cup. The odds in futures betting are fixed when the wager is placed, but they can change throughout the season depending on a team’s performance and injuries.
The Galaxy hold the record for most MLS Cup titles, having won five times in nine appearances. The championship has been won by the same team in two or more consecutive years on three occasions.
L.A. (+600) is the third pick on the futures betting line. The odds of +600 (or 6-1) mean that a bettor would have to wager $100 to earn a profit of $600 ($100 bet + $600 profit = $700 total return). A $10 future bet on the Galaxy would earn a total return of $70.
A $100 bet on the Red Bulls to win their first MLS title would return $500 ($100 bet + $400 profit = $500 total return).
High-risk plays like Orlando City (125-1), which won just eight games last season, return more than $10,000 in profit if the team can go all the way ($100 bet + $12,500 profit = $12,600 total return). A $10 winning ticket would return $1,260.
Matches across the United States and Canada begin on March 2 and run all the way through Decision Day on Oct. 6, followed by the start of the MLS Cup Playoffs on Oct. 19. Under a new format this season, the playoffs will use single-match rounds and include 14 teams.
Each club will play 34 games, including 17 home and 17 away games. Teams will face each of their conference opponents twice during the season and non-conference opponents once.
Let’s take a look at the Top 5 frontrunners for the MLS Cup title in 2019 (future odds provided by Bovada).
+1000 (18-5-11, 59 points) 2nd in West
The Sounders, who had played in the Cup finals in 2016 and ’17, were eliminated in the Western Conference semifinals last season. They finished just three points out of first place in the West in the regular season. Nicolas Lodeiro led the team in scoring with eight goals and 16 assists. The Sounders open the season at home at CenturyLink Field to expansion FC Cincinnati. The Sounders are 5-5-0 all-time in season openers, despite losses in each of the past three seasons.
+1200 (10-6-18, 36 points) 9th in East
Toronto fell on hard times last season after winning the championship in 2017. The club looks to return to the playoffs and make a run to the finals after qualifying for the postseason in the previous three seasons. Sebastian Giovinco led the team in scoring with 13 goals and 15 assists in 28 games, but the Italian superstar parted ways with the club in the offseason. Toronto plays a more balanced schedule this year with the longest road trip a three-game stretch during the summer.
+600 (13-9-12, 48 points) 7th in West
The Galaxy, one of the most successful franchises in MLS history, always seem to be among the favorites on the betting boards. L.A. just hasn’t been able to figure things out defensively in recent years. The club was second in scoring in the West last season, but among the worst in goals allowed. The Galaxy recently named former forward Guillermo Barros Schelotto as their new head coach and will have scoring sensation Zlatan Ibrahimovic returning to the mix.
+450 (21-6-7, 69 points) 2nd in East
The reigning champs went on an amazing run in just their second season in the league. Star striker Josef Martinez returns to the mix along with added talent Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez, but the club loses its beloved manager in Tata Martino and playmaker Miguel Almiron. The manager will be replaced by Dutch legend Frank de Boer who will likely change the team’s defensive formation. This lineup is filled with aging stars, but a long season will give them plenty of chances to be there in the end.
+400 (22-5-7, 71 points) 1st in East
The Red Bulls, who have yet to win an MLS Cup even though they are one of the original clubs to join the league when it was established in 1996, won the Eastern Conference and regular season title last year but wasted that position in the playoffs. New York had the best goal differential in the league last year at +29 and were led by defender of the year Aaron Long. The team has not reached the league final since it lost in 2008. This talented lineup, which set league records for points (71) and victories (22) last season, is the team to beat in 2019.
See below the top sportsbooks where you can wager online and choose the best one for you: