Major League Soccer Season Betting Preview
The 2021 MLS regular season was initially scheduled to begin on Saturday, April 3, but got postponed to Friday, April 16 due to an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the changed schedule, this year’s marks the latest start of the season since 2007, when MLS got pushed back to April 2016.
The new season will also see plenty of changes, most notably the debut of Texas-based team DC Austin, which will expand the league to 27 teams. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the cross-border restrictions imposed by the Canadian government, the Canadian soccer teams will need to play all of their home matches in the United States for the season, while sharing stadiums with other MLS teams.
The 2021 season will culminate with the 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs, which will begin on November 19 and conclude with the MLS Cup 2021 slated for December 21, 2021.
Columbus Crew enter the new season as defending champions, having beaten Seattle Sounders FC in MLS Cup 2020. The Philadelphia Union are the defending Supporter’s Shield winners, having finished the season with a 14-4-5 record and 47 points (2.04 PPG) – the second-best PPG record in MLS’s history, behind only Los Angeles FC (2.12 PPG) in 2019 and Los Angeles Galaxy (2.12 PPG) in 1998.
2021 Major League Soccer Season Futures Betting Picks
Despite failing to make it past the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2020, Los Angeles FC (6.00 at Bet365) enter the 2021 season as the main favorites to win their first crown. The second-most successful team in MLS’ history Columbus Crew (7.00 at Bet365) are priced close behind, while the 2017 champions Toronto FC (10.00 at Bet365) are third-favorites to go all the way and win their first silverware in four years.
But like any year before, the main favorites don’t necessarily live up to the expectations, nor is it guaranteed that the three favorites will finish the season at the top. That said, here are our top future picks for the 2021 MLS.
The Favourites – LA FC, Columbus Crew, Toronto FC
Los Angeles FC enter the new season as the top favorites to go all the way, but it’s rarely worth considering the top dogs as your betting pick. Due to the league’s relative parity and thin rosters, a minor setback can turn the team’s season upside down and LAFC know that all too well.
LAFC were billed as the undisputed top dogs for 2020, a team no one could defeat, but they ended up losing against Seattle in the first round of the season. They weren’t as bad as it may seem but it’s fair to say that everything that could go wrong for LAFC had gone wrong.
For that reason, it’s understandable LAFC did not panic and go into a full rebuild mode for 2021, since they don’t really need to change much to succeed. But are they good enough to win? Maybe, but there are definitely better choices out there.
Things seem to be pretty great in Columbus FC, and it’s hard to overlook a team that has won last year’s MLS Cup with relative ease. Granted they came up a bit short of winning the Supporter’s Shield (1.78 PPG).
Despite her minor setbacks during the regular season, Columbus Crew proved to be unstoppable in the playoffs. So it’s reasonable to see they’ve kept all key players from last season to shoot for another title.
If last season is any indication, it’s hard not to see Columbus Crew as one of the main favorites for the MLS Cup and even the Supporter’s Shield. We would go even so far as to say that Columbus are MLS’s best hope to contest for the CONCACAF Champions League title, although that’s a lot to ask.
Regardless, the Crew have everything they need to make a deep playoff run, and quite frankly not making it at least to the finals would be a massive disappointment.
Prediction: Columbus Crew to win MLS Cup e/w – 7.00 Bet365
The last of the top-three favorites, Toronto FC enter the 2021 season with more questions than answers. Their 2020 MLS Cup playoffs run ended right when it started, with a 0-1 loss against Nashville SC.
In a bid to see more success this year, Toronto parted ways with Greg Vanney and replaced him with Chris Armas, who enters the team with a mixed record under his belt. How will his arrival impact the team is anyone’s guess, but that’s not the only question we have about this squad.
How do you put together a strong offence in Toronto FC, and how will Armas take advantage of Pozuelo’s creative ability to produce what could possibly be one of the best ball movement in the league? The problem with all that potential, however, is that if Armas fails to take advantage of it, Toronto will hardly be more than a mediocre team, so you’re basically flipping a coin when predicting Toronto to succeed.
I must admit Toronto are a huge enigma and I have no idea how well they do. They have solid players and talented youngsters, but it remains to be seen whether all that potential will develop into something or will Toronto stagnate and repeat their performance from last season.
The only thing we do know for sure is that Toronto will look different than last year. Is that a good thing, is something we will leave it up to you to guess.
FC Dallas (26.00 at Bet365) have had a weird season in 2021 – from withdrawing from MLS is Back Tournament due to the global pandemic, to losing Zdenek Ondrasek, Reggie Cannon and Jesse Gonzalez, Jesus Ferreira sudden drop in form, and Paxton Pomykal playing only five games – and they can be lucky they even finished inside the top-six.
We bust give credit where credit is due, however, since Dallas managed to knock out Portland in the opening round of the playoffs. Sadly, they quickly crashed out of playoffs with a 0-1 loss against Seattle Sounders in the Conference semifinals.
In a bid to see more success in 2021, Dallas made some big changes. Most important being the departure of Michael Barrios and Santiago Mosquera, who hasn’t really impressed in 2020, so we see that as a plus.
On the other side of the pitch, Dallas won’t be fielding Bryan Reynolds who went to AS Roma and Reto Ziegler, which might seem like a negative, given that he was the designated penalty taker for the team. That said, Ziegler was getting slow, and that won’t cut it in a league with young and fast strikers.
Dallas also brought in a few fresh faces, most notably Philadelphia Union’s Kalil ElMedkhar, who just might be their best signing in a while. Will he live up to the hype, however, remains to be seen.
If we ignore the 2020 season, in which Dallas started strong and looked like proper cup contenders until the wheels fell off, you can’t help but be excited about this squad. They have everything they need to be the team to beat in the Western Conference, and if they can find a reliable goalscorer, Luchi Gonzalez’s men might surprise many.
Prediction: FC Dallas to win e/w – 26.00 Bet365
New England Revolution
When you search for underdog teams that can surprise, it’s hard to look past New England Revolution (26.00 at Bet365). They have a few very solid pieces and lethal attack, but the main issue this team has been dealing with in 2020 was their defense.
The defenders allowed way too many shots on goal, resulting in a horrendous 1.87 xGA per match. But to be fair, you don’t need these fancy numbers to know what New England’s main problem was.
Acquiring Henry Kessler in the first round of the 2020 Superdraft might help New England improve in that department, as he did not need long to earn his spot as a starter. Adding Matt Polster to the team, and continue with the development of DeJuan Jones and Tajon Buchanan are the other main reasons why it’s reasonable to expect New England just might look much better on their side of the pitch.
Assuming New England magically improve their defense to at least a respectable level. Is there anything more this team needs to win the title?
Despite missing Carles Gil last season, New England were still one of the best-attacking teams in the league, largely thanks to Gustavo Bou, Adam Buksa, and Teal Bunbury. And as if that wasn’t enough, New England also signed Arnor Ingvi Traustason – you know the guy who helped Iceland make it out of the group stage at UEFA Euro 2016 over Austria?
New England Revolution are a team that have all the right pieces to compete for at least a playoffs spot, and if everything clicks, they might make a deep run. The only question now is whether the pieces will fall into the right place and whether they will manage to take full advantage of their strengths.
There are many things this team will have to rely on to succeed – consistency, keeping their scoring at the level it was in 2020, improving their defense, keep developing their young talent… – but if they manage to execute only most of that, New England Revolution shouldn’t be overlooked.
Prediction: New England Revolution to win e/w – 26.00 Bet365
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