Betting on Who Will Win the 2020 MLS Cup – Odds, Prediction, and Pick
Following a chaotic end to the regular season, we now know which teams will be competing in the 2020 MLS Cup playoffs. Montreal Impact and Inter Miami snuck in at the eleventh hour, although neither of the latecomers are among the bookmakers’ favorites to lift the trophy.
Having secured the Supporters’ Shield, Philadelphia Union is expected to go far. Defending champions Seattle Sounders are among the frontrunners, with LAFC, Orlando, and New York City also tipped to challenge for the title.
The two play-in matches take place on Friday, November 20, before the playoffs start for real on Saturday, November 21.
After looking at the odds and assessing the favorites’ chances, I share my 2020 MLS Cup winner prediction and betting pick.
2020 MLS Cup Winner Odds
Despite LAFC (4.50) enduring an inconsistent campaign so far, the leading online sportsbooks still view Bob Bradley’s side as the frontrunner to clinch the trophy this year.
Orlando City (5.50) is the bookmakers’ second-favorite, with Supporters’ Shield winner Philadelphia Union (6.00) making up the top three.
New York City (7.00) and defending MLS Cup champions Seattle Sounders (7.00) are neck and neck at this stage, while the bookies also can’t seem to separate Portland Timbers (9.00) and Toronto FC (9.00).
Assessing the Bookmakers’ Favorites
LAFC Must Find Some Much-Needed Consistency
Many believed that LAFC would go all the way last year. Bradley’s men crushed rivals LA Galaxy in the semi-finals, but they eventually fell to Seattle in the conference final. As fate would have it, the Black & Gold have been drawn against the Sounders in their first playoff match this season.
Given their unpredictability throughout 2020, I’m a little surprised that the bookmakers are favoring LAFC at the moment. Having said that, you’d be foolish to write off the Los Angeles club altogether.
With Golden Boot winner Diego Rossi firing on all cylinders and reigning MVP Carlos Vela returning from injury at just the right time, the Black & Gold is capable of blowing away the best backlines in MLS.
But if Bradely’s men are serious about getting their hands on the trophy, they must sort out their defensive problems. Sure, LAFC is the top scorer in the country this year. But it is worth noting that only four teams in the Western Conference conceded more regular-season goals.
I’ll be surprised if LAFC goes all the way this term. Then again, it wouldn’t be the biggest shock in MLS history, would it?
Can Orlando Continue to Impress?
It is impossible to leave out Orlando when it comes to discussing this year’s MLS Cup favorites. The Lions have been in formidable form throughout the campaign, so I can see them having a big say on the outcome of the playoffs.
Since reaching the final of the MLS is Back Tournament in August, Oscar Pareja’s men have barely put a foot wrong. Indeed, Orlando only lost three of their 18 matches after the regular season resumed and even managed to string together a 12-game unbeaten streak along the way.
Chris Mueller has been the star of the show for the Florida outfit, notching up ten goals and five assists this year. Nani (seven goals, five assists) and Daryl Dike (seven goals, three assists) have also played eye-catching supporting roles.
With plenty of knockout soccer under their belts already this term, the Lions’ run to the MLS is Back Tournament final could give them an edge in the playoffs.
Philly Heads Into the Playoffs On a High
It goes without saying that Philadelphia will be brimming with confidence having just secured the Supporters’ Shield for the first time in the club’s history.
The Union won six of their final eight games to finish three points ahead of Toronto in the Eastern Conference, so I don’t think anyone can say that Philly doesn’t deserve their honor.
Not only were Jim Curtin’s men the highest scorers in the East (44), they also finished the regular season with the best defensive record in the division (20). The team’s solidity at both ends of the pitch has to make Philadelphia a genuine MLS Cup challenger.
After losing in the final of the MLS Open Cup on three separate occasions (2014, 2015, 2018), the U has finally broken their trophy hoodoo. Can Curtin’s men add to their trophy cabinet again in the coming weeks? Personally, I think they stand a great chance.
Will New York City Maintain Their Momentum?
It’s been a strange year for New York City. It’s fair to say that Ronny Deila’s men have struggled for consistency for much of the campaign, although they appear to be peaking at the perfect time.
In fact, it could be argued that NYC is the in-form team in MLS right now. The Boys in Blue have won each of the previous four games, and no other side boasts that record.
Deila’s men are also scoring goals for fun at the moment. They have netted 13 times across their last four outings (3.25 goals per game), putting five past rivals New York Red Bulls before bagging four against Chicago Fire last time out.
If Valentin Castellanos can pick up where he left off in the regular season, the Boys in Blue will be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs. The Argentine has scored six goals in his last seven appearances, including a hat-trick against the Red Bulls.
The New Yorkers have qualified for their fifth straight postseason, yet they have failed to make it past the quarter-finals in previous years. The team will need to build on their momentum to go deep into the competition this time around.
Can the Sounders Defend Their Crown?
All eyes will be on the reigning MLS Cup champions as Seattle bids to become only the fourth team in history to secure back-to-back titles.
The Sounders were the favorites to defend their crown earlier in the campaign. An outstanding streak of five wins in six games across September and October put Brain Schmetzer’s men in a seriously strong position. But a series of poor results since then have seen them fall by the wayside somewhat.
Seattle only won two of their final seven regular-season matches, although the team did manage to secure three draws during that period. It was by no means a devastating run, but it undoubtedly cost the Washington club a shot at the Supporters’ Shield.
Still, Schmetzer’s side finished the regular season on a high, thrashing San Jose Earthquakes 4-1. Raul Ruidiaz (11 goals in 14 appearances) and Jordan Morris (nine goals in 18 appearances) both got on the scoresheet on Sunday.
The Sounders also finished with the best defensive record in the West, underlining their efficiency at both ends of the pitch.
Portland Knows What It Takes
If it feels like the Timbers have been there and done it already, it’s probably because they have.
Year after year, Portland seems to be in the MLS Cup conversation. Of course, the Oregon club lifted the trophy in 2015 before finishing as the runner-up in 2018.
Giovanni Savarese’s side could hardly have dreamed of a better start to the current campaign. The Timbers won the MLS is Back Tournament in Florida and have been almost unstoppable ever since.
Portland has only suffered two defeats in the previous 13 outings, with a five-game winning streak coming across late September and early October. Furthermore, only LAFC scored more goals in the West, so the Oregon outfit will surely be confident of outscoring their playoff opponents.
However, the Timbers must tighten things up at the back. Savarese’s men ended up with the poorest defensive record in the top five, and a leaky backline could prevent them from competing with the country’s top teams.
Will Toronto Go One Better This Year?
If the Reds want to improve on last season’s runner-up spot, they will need to discover some form pretty quickly. Not so long ago, a nine-match unbeaten streak had many bookmakers favoring Toronto to go all the way this year. But the Ontario outfit heads into the playoffs in dismal form.
A humiliating 5-0 defeat at the hands of Philadelphia sparked the beginning of a catastrophic run for the Canadians. Greg Vanney’s men have since lost to both New York clubs, meaning they have suffered three defeats in their last four games.
Toronto was nailed on to clinch the Supporters’ Shield as recently as late October, yet the team’s recent performances have been nowhere near good enough.
Alejandro Pozuelo has the ability to singlehandedly change games. The Spaniard has bagged nine goals and nine assists this year, but his team-mates must step and chip in when the playoffs get underway.
The Wizards Are Flying High
Despite clinching the top spot in the Western Conference, Sporting Kansas City is pretty far down the bookies’ list of favorites to win the MLS Cup. But with the wind in their sails, I can see the Wizards causing a stir in the playoffs.
Sporting KC won each of their last three outings to finish atop the West, while no team in the division managed to pick up more points across their final ten regular-season games (19). It’s safe to say that the momentum is with Peter Vermes’ side right now.
The Wizards last won the MLS Cup back in 2013, although they failed to qualify for the playoffs last year. The team has already improved dramatically on last season’s efforts, but Vermes will be eager for his players to continue to build on the failures of 2019.
With eighth-seed San Jose Earthquakes up next, SKC will fancy their chance of reaching the conference semi-finals. Anything could happen after that.
2020 MLS Cup Winner Pick
There is still a long way to go before the 2020 MLS Cup champion is crowned. With a couple of play-in matches taking place even before the playoffs get underway, anything could happen in the coming weeks.
That said, it is difficult to look past Philadelphia Union right now.
Curtin’s men secured the Supporters’ Shield with a convincing 2-0 victory over New England Revolution last time out, meaning they will get an easy start against one of the lower-ranked play-in winners in the first round of the playoffs.
The U has been on a roll in recent weeks, winning four of their previous five outings. In fact, the Pennsylvanians have only suffered one defeat in their last eight matches, while last month’s 5-0 thrashing of Toronto proved to everyone that Philly means business.
Of course, securing the Supporters’ Shield and the MLS Cup in the same season won’t be easy. But in my opinion, backing in-form Philadelphia at 6.00 seems like great value.
Philadelphia Union to Win the 2020 MLS Cup6.00