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Close Battle Beckons in MLS Eastern Final
Updated October 25, 2022
Philadelphia Union and NYCFC are once again the finalists in the MLS Eastern Conference, and another close battle is on the cards at Subaru Park.
Who do Bettors Favor?
Checking out the main sports online betting sites, we can see that Philadelphia is rated as the big favorite with bettors for this final, which is a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference decider. Philadelphia has home advantage and is priced as low as -119 here, while NYCFC is available at +300 and the draw in normal time is a +290 chance.
Four teams are remaining in the MLS playoffs, and they will go head-to-head in the East and the West, with the winners meeting in the MLS Cup Final.
At the Conference Finals stage, home advantage is determined by a team’s finishing position in the regular season standings. Still, for the Final, it will be based on overall regular season standings. LAFC had the best regular season record, followed by Philadelphia and Austin, while NYCFC, with the worst record of the four, knows they will be playing away from their home ground if they go through to the Final.
Familiar Rivals Clash Again in the MLS Eastern Final
Philadelphia Union has been the dominant team in the MLS Eastern Conference since the beginning of the season. Aside from a spell of drawn games in the early summer, they have looked like Conference winners all year.
Union is the best-balanced team in the Conference Finals. Daniel Gazdag has had a spectacular second season, scoring 22 goals and contributing ten assists, while the defense finished with the best record in MLS, conceding only 26 goals in their 34 games. Their strong regular season performance earned them a First Round bye, and they came through their semi-final against Cincinnati with a 1-0 win to set up this clash with a familiar Eastern Conference rival.
Defending an MLS Cup title is a tough challenge that has only been achieved twice in the competition’s history, but NYCFC made a good start to the season, proving hard to beat until the end of July. Unfortunately, the departure of the main striker Taty Castellanos destabilized their campaign, and they managed only one win in ten games before a late recovery saved their playoff hopes.
They continued their good late-season form to secure a 3-0 victory over Inter Miami in the First Round of the playoffs. This set up a tough semi-final in Montreal, but NYCFC dominated from the get-go, taking a 3-0 lead by the hour mark and prevailing 3-1 to extend their winning streak to five.
Betting Pick for MLS Eastern Final
Given what we witnessed throughout the regular season, it would be easy to bet on Philadelphia, but NYCFC has suddenly rediscovered form at the ideal time. The three victories at the end of the season restored some confidence, and since then they have defeated a strong Montreal team. This Eastern Final will undoubtedly be competitive, and NYCFC can take it to extra time.
LAFC Takes On Improving Austin in the Western Final
Like Philadelphia in the East, LAFC dominated their Conference and eventually won the Supporters’ Shield, finishing eleven points clear of Austin with the best offensive and defensive record in the West. That earned them a First-Round bye and home advantage throughout the playoffs.
The bye helped them to refresh ahead of another clash with LA Galaxy in the Semi-Finals. El Trafico once again delivered a classic in which LAFC had to dig deep to twice take the lead and score a winning goal in injury time to set up a Conference Final against improving Austin.
Austin’s reinvention this season has been impressive and set a record for team improvement in a second MLS season, as they ended the campaign with 25 points more than last year. Josh Wolff has molded this squad into a resilient and free-scoring unit, and they have shown strong fighting spirit in coming through two challenging playoff assignments.
First up was a game against last season’s playoff giant killers Real Salt Lake, in which they eventually came through on penalties after trailing 2-1 in injury time. They also had to battle hard in the Western Conference semi-final against Texas rivals FC Dallas, coming through 2-1.
Betting Pick for MLS Western Final
Austin FC’s ability to score goals consistently, combined with their resilience, makes them tough to play against. LAFC won’t be able to afford any lapses in concentration as the visitors are sure to maintain their efforts to the final second. However, LAFC has a clear class advantage with Carlos Vela and Gareth Bale in their squad, and they look like the best pick in what should be an entertaining game.
For more than a decade and a half, Teri Geis has carved a niche in the world of betting. Her writing has graced the pages of some of the industry's heavy hitters, including the likes of Betfair, ESPN, and Sporting Life. With her extensive understanding of sports betting, readers can now peruse her insightful reviews, features, and previews here on this website.