Betting Preview for the 2022 Major League Soccer Season – MLS Cup Odds, Contender Analysis, and Predictions

| January 10, 2022 9:34 am PST

Less than a month ago, New York City FC beat the Portland Timbers on penalties to clinch their first-ever MLS Cup title. Not long after Alexander Callens scored the winning penalty for NYCFC, the bookmakers released their odds for the 2022 MLS Cup.

The previous campaign may have only just finished, but you can already bet on the 2022 Major League Soccer season. In fact, that is exactly why I created this page.

Below, you can find the opening 2022 MLS Cup odds – along with analysis of all the top contenders. I will also discuss a handful of sleepers that could upset the MLS odds in 2022.

The addition of expansion club Charlotte FC takes the total number of MLS teams to 28, with Nashville SC moving to the Western Conference to accommodate Charlotte in the East. How will they fare when the new season kicks off on February 26?

Keep reading to discover my Major League Soccer predictions for 2022.

Opening 2022 MLS Cup Odds

In the eyes of the top Major League Soccer betting sites, there are three frontrunners in the race for MLS Cup 2022 – Los Angeles FC (8.00), New England Revolution (8.00), and Seattle Sounders (8.00).

Although LAFC missed out on the playoffs last season, they are expected to bounce back in 2022. They will have to turn things around without Bob Bradley, though, following his move to Toronto.

The Revs broke all kinds of records on their way to winning the 2021 Supporters’ Shield, so it’s no surprise to see them at the top end of the bookmakers’ 2022 MLS Cup odds list.

As for the Sounders, well, they are always among the favorites. They have reached four of the last six MLS Cup finals, triumphing in 2016 and 2019.

After lifting the trophy in December, New York City FC (11.00) sits just outside the group of initial frontrunners. The MLS oddsmakers believe the reigning champions are in a strong position to defend their crown.

Sporting Kansas City (13.00) completes the top five, followed by Atlanta United (17.00), Colorado Rapids (17.00), LA Galaxy (17.00), and Philadelphia Union (17.00).

Next up, Columbus Crew (21.00) and New York Red Bulls (21.00) come before five evenly-priced teams – Minnesota United (26.00), Nashville SC (26.00), Orlando City (26.00), Portland Timbers (26.00), and Toronto FC (26.00).

The odds then take a sizeable jump up to Inter Miami (41.00), with expansion team Charlotte FC (67.00) among the outsiders. FC Cincinnati (101.00) and Houston Dynamo (101.00) bring up the rear.

Having assessed the odds for MLS Cup 2022, it’s time to take a closer look at the leading contenders.

Analyzing the Favorites – LAFC, New England, and Seattle

The bookmakers’ 2022 MLS Cup odds suggest that three teams are a cut above the rest as the new season approaches. In this section, I explain why that is the case.

LAFC Heads into Uncharted Waters

Los Angeles FC could not have dreamed of a better start to life in Major League Soccer. After finishing third in the Western Conference in their debut campaign, they clinched the Supporters’ Shield in 2019.

Since then, however, the Black & Gold have struggled to make an impact. Following a twelfth-place overall finish in 2020, they dropped to nineteenth last season. As a result, the club and Bob Bradley agreed to part ways.

Bradley was LAFC’s inaugural head coach, meaning the team will have to get used to a completely new way of playing. At this stage, Bradley’s successor has not been chosen.

Still, LAFC’s roster is stacked with quality. With Carlos Vela – one of the most prolific Golden Boot winners in MLS history – leading the way, the Balck & Gold look set to make a resurgence in 2022.

Can the Revs Rediscover Their Supremacy?

There is absolutely no denying that New England was the strongest team throughout the entirety of the 2021 regular season. Not only did they finished 12 points clear of second-place Colorado, but they also broke the MLS points record on their way to winning the Supporters’ Shield.

Although the Revs ended up falling to NYCFC in the conference semifinals, nobody would be shocked if they bounced straight back and hit the ground running in 2022.

After notching an unrivalled 18 assists last season, Carles Gil scooped the 2021 MLS MVP award. He played a pivotal role his team’s success, alongside stars such as Matt Turner, Adam Buksa, and Gustavo Bou.

Worryingly for the rest of the league, the recent arrival of Sebastian Lletget has made New England even stronger. The former LA Galaxy midfielder will only improve Bruce Arena’s side.

Never Write Off the Sounders

Once again, the Sounders enjoyed another excellent season in 2021. They finished just a single point behind first-place Colorado in the West, securing a playoff spot for the thirteenth year in a row.

Unfortunately, Brian Schmetzer’s men failed to make it past the first postseason round – losing to Real Salt Lake on penalties. But if their recent record is anything to go by, they will almost certainly challenge for the trophy in 2022.

PAST SIX MLS CUP FINALS
Year Winner Runner-Up
2016 Seattle Sounders Toronto FC
2017 Toronto FC Seattle Sounders
2018 Atlanta United Portland Timbers
2019 Seattle Sounders Toronto FC
2020 Columbus Crew Seattle Sounders
2021 New York City FC Portland Timbers

The Sounders have reached four of the previous six MLS Cup finals and have secured the top prize on two occasions since 2016. That tells you everything you need to know about their staying power.

Other Realistic Contenders – NYCFC, Nashville, Portland, & TFC

Outside the bookmakers’ group of favorites, there are several teams that stand a genuine chance of lifting the trophy in 2022. In my eyes, the four teams below are the most likely to challenge the three frontrunners.

NYCFC Heads into 2022 On a High

After five successive years of playoff heartbreak, New York City FC is finally an MLS Cup champion. But have Ronny Deila’s men got what it takes to defend their title?

The Boys in Blue finished eighth in the overall standings last season – 22 points behind New England. However, they ended up dispatching the Revs on their way to the final before beating Portland on penalties.

At this stage, keeping hold of Valentin Castellanos is NYCFC’s top priority. The 2021 Golden Boot winner bagged 19 goals and eight assists last season, attracting the attention of clubs from England to Brazil and beyond.

Sure, players like Jesus Medina, Sean Johnson, and James Sands are invaluable, too. But if Castellanos leaves the club, it will be extremely difficult for NYCFC to go back-to-back.

Nashville Continues to Improve

Nashville SC may have just two MLS seasons in the books, but it already feels like the team from Tennessee is one of the more established sides in the league.

Gary Smith’s men stunned everyone by qualifying for the playoffs in their maiden MLS campaign – and they did even better last season. After finishing third in the 2021 Eastern standings, they reached the conference semifinals.

2021 Major League Soccer Season – Most Goal Involvements

  • Hany Mukhtar, Nashville SC – 16 goals, 12 assists (28)
  • Valentin Castellanos, New York City FC – 19 goals, 8 assists (27)
  • Damir Kreilach, Real Salt Lake – 16 goals, 9 assists (25)

No player notched more goal involvements than Hany Mukhtar (16 goals, 12 assists) last season. CJ Sapong (12 goals, 5 assists) and Randall Leal (8 goal, 9 assists) also enjoyed stellar campaigns, emphasizing Nashville’s attacking firepower.

Better still, the Boys in Gold ended the regular season with the joint-best defensive record in the entire league. With genuine quality at both ends of the field, Nashville will continue to rise in 2022.

Will the Timbers Go One Better?

It goes without saying that Portland will still be hurting after losing the 2021 MLS Cup final on penalties. Of course, losing any final is painful. But losing on penalties always feels worse. In fact, it almost doesn’t seem fair!

As the new season draws closer, the Timbers must pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and go again.

Thankfully, the Timbers’ roster is stacked with top players – especially in the attacking department. With forwards such as Felipe Mora, Yimmi Chara, and Sebastian Blanco in their ranks, they should return stronger than ever in 2022.

On top of that, Portland has one of the best stadiums in Major League Soccer. The passionate fans always back their team, giving the Oregon outfit an extra lift on home soil.

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A New Era for Toronto FC

It is no secret that Toronto FC endured a dismal 2021 campaign. The 2017 MLS Cup champions finished second from bottom in the Eastern Conference, winning just six of their 34 games.

Chris Armas was fired in July, leaving Javier Perez as interim head coach. In November, the Reds announced Bob Bradley as their new head coach – less than a week after he left LAFC by mutual consent.

Bradley may be one of the worst EPL managers in history, but his record in Major League Soccer speaks for itself. The three-time MLS Coach of the Year won the MLS Cup with Chicago Fire before guiding LAFC to Supporters’ Sheild glory, so he could transform TFC.

With Italian superstar Lorenzo Insigne set to arrive at BMO Field next summer, a return to the glory days could be right around the corner.

Outsiders to Keep an Eye On – Miami, RSL, and Charlotte

The competitiveness of Major League Soccer means that plenty of teams can upset the 2022 MLS Cup odds. Here are three sleepers – priced between 41.00 and 67.00 – to keep a close eye on.

Can Inter Miami Fulfill Expectations?

In all honesty, I still don’t know what to make of Inter Miami. On the one hand, they could go down as one of the worst MLS teams of all time. But on the other hand, they have the potential to become a genuine force in the league.

In 2020, the club co-owned by David Beckham finished nineteenth at the end of its inaugural campaign. Last season, the team dropped a place after losing exactly half of its 34 matches.

Miami’s roster features World Cup winner Blaise Matuidi and Argentine legend Gonzalo Higuain, along with former EPL stars like Ryan Shawcross and Kieran Gibbs. If they all perform to the best of their ability, the Herons could go far in 2022.

Real Salt Lake Surprised Everyone in 2021

When Freddy Juarez left Real Salt Lake to join the Sounders midway through the 2021 campaign, the Utah club’s season was in danger of falling apart. As it turned out, the opposite happened.

Pablo Mastroeni replaced Juarez and helped RSL to win seven of their final 13 regular-season games. Against all the odds, the Claret & Cobalt then saw off Seattle and Sporting KC in the playoffs before falling to Portland in the conference finals.

The fact that RSL was just two wins away from lifting the trophy is pretty crazy. Mastroeni’s men are priced at 51.00 to go all the way in 2022, making them a tempting outside bet.

Could Charlotte FC Make Waves in 2022?

Of course, it is difficult to predict exactly how Charlotte FC will fare in their maiden MLS season. But that is what makes betting on Major League Soccer so exciting. With new teams entering the league on a yearly basis, you never know what will happen.

Priced at 67.00 to win the title in their debut season, the newcomers are rank outsiders. Even so, they could ruffle more than a few feathers when play gets underway.

The North Carolina franchise has already made several notable signings, including EPL winner Christian Fuchs. He was part of Leicester City’s famous triumph in 2016, so he knows what it takes to upset the odds.

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Betting on Major League Soccer in 2022

Across the past nine seasons, eight different teams have clinched the MLS Cup. When it comes to betting on the MLS Cup winner, it is important to remember this statistic.

Due to the competitive nature of the league, it is always difficult to predict which team will lift the trophy at the end of each campaign. Hopefully, the advice on this page will point you in the right direction.

Given that no team has won back-to-back titles since the Galaxy in 2012, NYCFC could struggle to defend their crown. If they convince Castellanos to stay, however, they will give themselves a decent chance.

The bookmakers’ favorites – LAFC, New England, and Seattle – are all destined to compete for the top prize. After securing their first-ever Supporters’ Shield in record-breaking style, the Revs could go one better in 2022.

That said, don’t be afraid to back a less-favored team, or even a rank outsider. Major League Soccer has dished up plenty of shock champions over the years, meaning you could land a tasty profit if you pick the right side.

Be sure to keep an eye on our soccer blog as the new season approaches. I will be sharing more MLS content in the lead-up to the 2022 campaign.

Ben Morris
Ben Morris

Ben is a sportswriter and tipster who specializes in soccer. Currently based in the UK, he has traveled all around the world watching – and betting on – his beloved sport.

Alongside his regular soccer content, Ben publishes blogs and picks for cricket, Formula 1, Aussie rules, darts, and various other sports.

Ben is a diehard fan of Nottingham Forest and England, so he hasn’t had much to cheer about in recent years!

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