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Montreal the Best Bet in MLS Playoffs
Updated September 23, 2022
The MLS playoffs will soon be with us, and as the regular season draws to a close, Montreal look like the best bet for postseason glory.
Who do Bettors Favor?
According to the main sports online betting sites bookmakers see the MLS playoffs as a straight battle between LAFC, the runaway leaders in the Western Conference, and Philadelphia Union, last season’s Eastern Conference runners-up. Both are favored by bettors at around +300, with their nearest rivals, Austin and Montreal, at +1000, while Dallas, NYCFC, NY Red Bulls, and Nashville are close behind.
The team that finishes with the best record in the regular season earns the coveted Supporters’ Shield. Still, unlike most European leagues, the real prize is gained through a playoff system, with the winner of the playoffs lifting the MLS Cup, which is considered to be the real championship.
One important aspect to consider, based on the history of betting on the MLS playoffs, is the fact that the winner of the Supporters’ Shield does not usually go on to win the MLS Cup. Only seven of the 26 MLS Cups held to date have been won by the team with the best regular season record. Last year’s tournament was one of the most glaring examples. New England Revolution finished twelve points clear of all the other teams in the regular season but was knocked out in the Conference semi-finals.
How the MLS Playoffs Work
The top seven teams in each Conference qualify for the MLS playoffs. The two Conference winners earn byes to the Conference semi-finals, while the remaining six play in the First Round. From then on it is a straight knockout competition with two teams meeting in the MLS Cup Final.
Each playoff game is a one-off match, and home advantage throughout is given to the team that finished higher in the regular season, aside from the MLS Cup Final, in which home advantage goes to the team with the better overall regular season points record.
Which Teams will be in the MLS Playoffs?
All MLS teams have either two or three games remaining in the regular season, but we already know the identity of some of the teams who will be in the playoffs.
Philadelphia Union, NY Red Bulls, and Montreal have already qualified in the East, while LAFC, Austin, and FC Dallas have confirmed their playoff places in the West. LAFC has already sewn up the top spot in the West so that they will get a bye to the semi-finals, and in the East, Philadelphia needs just a point from their last two games to confirm their top position in the Conference.
Also, NYCFC is virtually certain of a playoff spot in the East, but five teams are realistically fighting for the last three places. Orlando, Cincinnati, and Miami are currently in the playoff positions, but Atlanta and Columbus are close behind. Things are more open in the West, where eight teams are fighting for four playoff places, currently occupied by Nashville, Portland, Minnesota, and LA Galaxy.
Best Bets in the MLS Eastern Conference
Philadelphia is likely to finish top in the East. Still, even allowing for their likely first-round bye, the record of teams with the best regular season record suggests they are probably priced too short.
NY Red Bulls have had an excellent season, but recent defeats to NYCFC and Philadelphia have thrown their playoff credentials into doubt. Their New York rivals, NYCFC, regained momentum with their Hudson River derby win, but their mid-season slump has raised questions about their fragility. In contrast, Orlando has continued to be worryingly inconsistent.
At this point, the best bet in the East looks like Montreal. They have lost only once since July, a narrow loss to the Red Bulls. They’ve been one of the highest scoring teams in MLS and are still improving under head coach Wilfried Nancy after finishing tenth in the East last year.
LAFC has been one of the top teams in MLS all season, but they have shown signs of weakness in recent weeks and, as with Philadelphia appear to be overpriced. Portland has a strong record in the postseason and can’t be completely dismissed, but they are likely to be playing most of their playoff games on the road, and they’ve only won three times away from Portland this year.
Dallas is in a solid form approaching the end of the regular season, but the best bets in the West are Austin and Nashville. Austin beat LAFC 4-1 in August and are just the sort of dangerous free-scoring team that can get on a roll in the playoffs, while Nashville is one of the form teams in MLS, having gone six games undefeated, including wins over Dallas and Austin.
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.