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How teams qualify for the elmination tournament
The MLS regular season begins this year on February 29 and is scheduled to conclude on October 4. Each conference is made up of 13 teams, and each team will play a 34-game schedule, with 17 of those games coming at home and 17 on the road. The schedule consists of each team playing every other team in their conference once at home and once away, plus one match against 10 of the 13 teams in the other conference. A team is awarded 3 points for a win and 1 point for a draw, and the standings are determined by total points accumulated throughout the season.
The top seven teams in each conference will qualify for the MLS playoffs, with the top team from each conference earning a bye in the first-round. The remaining six teams in each conference will play each other in the first round, with the playoffs operating as two separate single-elimination tournaments in each conference. The winner of each conference then advances to the MLS Cup, which determines the champion of the league for that season.
|LA Galaxy is the most successful team. It has won 5 titles and can be considered as a favorite.|
Wagering on individual matches
Throughout the MLS playoffs, there are plenty of opportunities to bet on individual matches. For each match, sportsbooks will set lines and odds for a plethora of different wagers. The most common of these will be outright match winners and total goals scored. There are no draws in the MLS playoffs — just like in the World Cup elimination stage — so there is only one-way betting available. In other words, you won’t be able to bet on each team to win, or the match to end in a draw.
For each match, the sportsbooks will set a favorite and an underdog. For example, Seattle may be favored over Philadelphia in a playoff match, with Seattle listed with -150 odds and Philadelphia at +175. This means you’d need to wager $150 to win $100 on Seattle, and a $100 bet on Philadelphia would net you $175 if it were successful.
For total goals bets, the only thing you’ll be concerned with are the total number of goals scored in the game combined by both teams — regardless of which team wins the match. The sportsbooks will set an over/under line for total goals of each match. If the total goals line were 3.5, for example, then a wager on the under would be successful if 3 or fewer goals were scored, while a wager on the over would be successful if 4 or more goals were scored.
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Choosing the winner of each conference
At the start of the MLS playoffs, sportsbooks will also make available futures wagers. These type of wagers will concern the prediction of future outcomes of bigger events, rather than the outcome of any one particular match.
In addition to available wagers on which team will win the MLS Cup, sportsbooks will list odds for each team to win their respective conference. The odds to win a conference will be lower for teams than to win the MLS Cup, because it will require one fewer win.
Still, punters may find it easier to correctly predict a team to win a conference than predicting a team to win the MLS Cup. Each team that qualifies for the MLS playoffs will be assigned odds to win their conference. The teams that are considered the favorites – often the top seeds in both conference – will have shorter odds, while the underdogs – often the lower seeds – will have longer odds.
For example, the #1 seed may have odds of +110 to win the conference, while the #7 seed has odds of +750. This means a successful $100 bet on the #1 seed would net you $110, while a successful $100 bet on the #7 seed would net you $750.
Tips & strategies
Interestingly, the #2 seed from one conference has reached the MLS Cup final in each of the last three years. In fact, last year, the Western Conference #2 seed Seattle Sounders FC was the champion, while the year before, the Eastern Conference #2 seed Atlanta United FC won it all. In 2017, the Sounders reached the MLS Cup final as the #2 seed in the West, but ended up losing to Toronto FC, the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference that year.
What this trend shows is that the top seeds often perform well in the MLS playoffs. While the #1 seed doesn’t win every year, the top-seeded teams often end up performing nicely. That may be a trend you can pick up on when betting, either by selecting a #1 or #2 seed to win the MLS Cup final or to win their respective conference. It’s always a good idea to take a look at teams that are performing well leading up to the start of the MLS playoffs, as that can often be an indicator of solid performance in the playoffs.
Get on the ball with MLS playoff betting
The MLS playoffs are an exciting time of year for soccer in North America. The hotly-contested playoffs in the MLS are great to watch every year, and provide some excellent MLS cup betting opportunities as well. Sportsbooks today will offer everything from futures bets, to single-game bets to even prop bets and live betting options on the MLS playoffs.
“MLS playoff betting is very attractive given the mode of the tournament. Every inch counts and punters benefit from high odds.“