When MLS returns to action with a massive tournament in Orlando starting next week, it will be interesting to watch how many storylines connected to the league play out. In a similar fashion, how all the circumstances of the event will affect the outcome of the tournament is up in the air right now.
Among those circumstances are the possible impact of playing on neutral pitches in empty stadiums and personnel being sequestered for a month. Those factors just complicate the already-precarious task of handicapping the tournament with little recent form to go off of.
Several online sportsbooks have taken on that challenge, however. The lack of recent data and uncertainties could actually play to bettors’ favor.
MLS futures markets on sports betting apps
While live bets may surface closer to the MLS tournament opening on July 8, three prominent apps have futures available for MLS bettors now. Those include markets on the six groups and the entire tournament.
|New York Red Bulls||+1400||+1400||+2100|
|New York City FC||+1600||+1600||+1100|
BetMGM shows a better consensus in terms of which clubs will win their respective groups with another online sportsbook, PointsBet. Those two books have the same clubs as joint or sole favorites for Groups B, C, D, E, and F.
DraftKings and FanDuel also have 3-way moneylines on the first few days of group play matches. For select matches, those two operators also offer several other types of wagers as well.
MLS odds: moneylines, spreads, props, and totals
The most anticipated match of the first two days of the tournament is New York City FC vs. Philadelphia Union. FanDuel has Philadelphia as the favorite at +140/+130 on a 3-way moneyline.
The tourney’s first weekend presents some opportunities to take a couple of flyers on some long shots. Houston is +410 to win against LAFC while Nashville is +360 against Philadelphia at DraftKings.
If 3-way moneylines aren’t your thing, then the earliest matches on the schedule are for you. For the first match of the tournament, Orlando vs. Miami, all three books have several market types.
These include 3-Way Spread, Asian Lines, Correct Score, Double Chance, Draw No Bet, First Half only, and Total Goals. In most of these markets, there is a pretty solid consensus.
The volume of markets for that first match should be a good prototype for others as the tourney progresses. The futures market is a good representation of why this tournament could be a good opportunity for sports bettors.
Uncertainty breeds opportunity in sports betting
Right now, oddsmakers are doing their best to handicap sporting events like the MLS tournament amidst a host of uncommon factors. For example, some research suggests playing in empty stadiums nullifies home-pitch advantage.
Naturally, that might be less of a concern for this event as most matches will be played at a neutral site. There still might be some effect on players from having no fans in attendance, however.
Quantifying that effect is difficult. What makes this situation even more complicated is that there is little data about these clubs’ recent forms to feed into predictive models.
Before MLS suspended the season, most clubs had only played three or four matches. The obvious option is to use data from the 2019 MLS season but some of these clubs’ rosters look very different now.
How different sportsbooks account for these situations helps to explain some of the wide discrepancies in the futures markets. It also should act as a signal to bettors.
Bettors are also certainly facing the same challenges in their own handicapping. However, uncertain circumstances tend to even the odds in bettors’ favor as compared to when sportsbooks are posting markets in more controlled environments.
MLS is back and with it, wagering on North American men’s club soccer. The unique nature of the event may result in great chances to win for bettors.