We look at the highest available MLS Cup 2016 champions odds and offer up some soccer picks on three specific clubs who seem to hold value at this point in time.
Trying to Find Value in the MLS Futures Markets Before and During the Season
The MLS Cup Outright Winner (MLS champions) is a tricky marketplace as there are always seemingly around at least six and up to as many as 10 teams who seem like they could get on a roll in the Postseason and win the MLS Cup (league championship game) which has gone to a club from the Western Conference the L7 straight seasons. And making MLS Cup Futures Picks before the MLS season begins often offers up around the same or sometimes worse odds on teams as with only 10 clubs in each division, positioning within the top (Playoff) qualifying spots often changes and changes quickly, and the odds often change with it, although this is a newer and less popular niche market in a league now entering its 21st season.
When 12 of 20 teams in a league (60%) make that league’s Playoffs, Futures Bets are actually much harder to hit and require some Luck and/or smart timing somewhere in the 2nd Half of the MLS season. A perfect example of this was last season when the Portland Timbers (+500 to win MLS Cup 2016, Bovada) ended up winning their first MLS Cup despite finishing in 3rd place in the Western Conference, having no Home-pitch advantage and having just a +2 GD (41 GF-39 GA).
Although there is nothing like the MLS in terms of Futures Bets and the ongoing opportunities throughout the Regular Season, this league—which seems most comparable to the NHL with so many clubs making the Postseason and teams capable of making a run and a winning Futures Bet potentially in the 5/1 to 12/1 range (if you’re Lucky)—is tricky, but at least you can arm yourself with a couple of Logical MLS Tenets: 1—Bet a club or clubs (in Soccer they’re called “Clubs” and not “Teams” although “Soccer” is called ”Football” forcing the creation of the term “American Football”) from the Western Conference as that 10-team breakdown is loaded and two teams from the same conference can actually meet in the championship game—something that’s happened in 5 of the L7 seasons. 2—(Pick your team or teams and then) Wait to find the right betting spot when the odds are right and juicy. With 6 (of 10) teams in each conference making the Postseason, you can sort of figure out who should make be in the Playoffs and then don’t be scared to bet that club (or clubs) after a Road Loss or two when the odds will shrink.
Winning on the Road is hard in all sports, but seemingly harder in Soccer with less Home dates on a season’s schedule. And monster markets like New York City (New York Red Bulls, NYCFC) and Los Angeles (LA Galaxy) always seem to have higher expectations placed upon their teams by the media, oddsmakers and sports gamblers alike, possibly because the nature of the (Modern Media) beast is to give everything in short bursts and tell the stories of the European players like David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Robbie Keane, Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo as the fans know these guys. And when all end up in the Los Angeles or Big Apple metro area, smaller and newer clubs like a Vancouver Whitecaps, a Portland Timbers or a Sporting Kansas City gets less attention. And when a big-name European star like Didier Drogba ends up on a Canadian franchise like the Montreal Impact and completely lights a team and an entire city on fire, further exposing the league and sport beyond belief, then all is well in the MLS. And finding a value-laden Futures winner can come in almost any month of the league’s season, something almost every other professional sports league cannot say. Here are all the MLS Cup champions:
MLS Cup Champions
2013—Sporting Kansas City
2009—Real Salt Lake
2003—San Jose Earthquakes
2001—San Jose Earthquakes
2000—Kansas City Wizards
A List Dissection By a List (Sports Gamblers Funky Electronic Notebook)
1—No Canadian team has ever won the MLS Cup. The country has three teams in the MLS: Toronto FC (20/1 to win MLS Cup, William Hill), Montreal Impact (33/1 to win MLS Cup, 888sport) and the Vancouver Whitecaps (17/1 to win MLS Cup, 888sport).
2—A team from the Western Conference has won the MLS Cup the L7 years, 10 of the L11 seasons and 14 of the league’s 20 total seasons. So, it’s probably best to skew MLS Futures bets to clubs from the Western Conference.
3—DC United W3 of the first 4 MLS titles and has won 4 of the Eastern Conference’s 6 league championships. The Chicago Fire (1998) and Columbus Crew (2008) have won the other two.
4—The New York (now Red Bulls) franchise has never won an MLS Cup in the league’s 20 years, yet open up as the MLS Cup odds favorites (4/1) at one Online sportsbook (Bovada) and as co-favorites (5/1) at a couple of others (Unibet, 888sport). One of 10 charter clubs in the league, the team was once known as the New York./New Jersey MetroStars (through 1997), just the MetroStars (1998-2005) and now the New York Red Bulls, after team owner Red Bull GmbH.
5—Landon Donovan (MLS-record 144 goals) and the LA Galaxy have had the closest thing to an MLS dynasty (2011-2014).
6—Animal nicknames (Red Bulls) are few and far between in the MLS. The Elements (Rapids, Whitecaps, Galaxy, Timber) and Disasters (Fire, Earthquakes) are the norm. A team nicknamed the “El Niños” or the “Wind Chills” can’t be too far off in The Future for the MLS..
7—Seven different clubs have won the MLS Cup over the L10 years—all teams from the rugged Western Conference with legendary Coach Bruce Arena and the LA Galaxy the only repeat champions (2011, 2012, 2014) in the past decade.
8—California (LA Galaxy, San Jose) is the only US state with multiple MLS Cup champions. But then again, only three US states—California, New York (New York Red Blues, NYCFC) and Texas (FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo)—actually have MLS teams right now. And a total of 7 of the 20 MLS Cups have come from the Golden State (LA Galaxy—5, San Jose Earthquakes—2).
9—Kansas City has won titles both as the Wizards (2000) and as Sporting Kansas City (2013).
10—Five MLS clubs (Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, Real Salt Lake, Colorado Rapids and the Portland Timbers last season) have just one MLS Cup to their names.
Best Current MLS Cup 2016 Winner Odds (Oddschecker, February 15, 2016)
New York Red Bulls +500 (Unibet, 888sport, William Hill)
LA Galaxy +550 (10Red)
Portland Timbers +700 (Unibet, 888sport, William Hill)
Columbus Crew 10/1 (William Hill)
FC Dallas 13/1 (Unibet, 888sport)
Seattle Sounders 15/1 (Unibet, 888sport)
Vancouver Whitecaps 17/1 (Unibet, 888sport)
Sporting Kansas City 20/1 (Unibet, 888sport, 10Red, Bovada)
Toronto FC 20/1 (William Hill)
DC United 25/1 (Unibet, 888sport)
Montreal Impact 33/1 (Unibet, 888sport)
New England Revolution 33/1 (Unibet, 888sport)
NYCFC 33/1 (10Red, Bovada)
Orlando City 40/1 (Unibet, 888sport, 10Red)
Real Salt Lake 40/1 (Unibet, 888sport, 10Red)
San Jose Earthquakes 40/1 (Unibet, 888sport, William Hill)
Houston Dynamo 50/1 (Unibet, 888sport, William Hill, 10Red)
Philadelphia Union 66/1 (William Hill)
Colorado Rapids 80/1 (William Hill)
Chicago Fire 100/1 (William Hill)
Which MLS Clubs Might Be a Good Underdog or Longshot Bets Right Now?
In terms of current perceived value from these MLS Cup 2016 Futures Book odds in relationship to what these clubs did last season, combined with expectations for this season knowing that a priority in Futures Bet comes in first making the Postseason, there are only a couple of clubs worth pulling the trigger on at these prices. And two of them come from north of the border and Canada. The first team is the Montreal Impact (33/1, Unibet, 888sport) as even though they call the Eastern Conference home and even though they play up in frigid Canada which has delivered 0 MLS Cup champions in 20 years, with former Chelsea star Didier Drogba now announcing he’ll return and having the magical 37-year-old Ivorian with the club from Day One this season could be massive and could put pressure on the New York Red Bulls and the Columbus Crew in the Eastern Conference.
With Drogba and Montreal (15-6-13, 48 GF-44 GA) having done so well last season and a 1st-6th spot—the Impact finished in 3rd place last season with 59 points—highly probable, the price of 33/1 (+3300) could be 1300 (cents) off and expect odds on this under-the-radar team to shrink. Just knowing that Drogba is on board should be worth about 1,000 cents to this Future Book line alone. Great teams need champions with big Hearts and Drogba is the King of the crucial late goal. The big problem with the potential bet comes with the aging Drogba potentially leaving at some point during the season, diminishing the Impact’s championship chances approximately 100%. No King, so sing. And he's Old and Injury-prone. Still, the price is (more than) right.
And two good Western Conference value bets in this marketplace right now would be the Vancouver Whitecaps 17/1 (Unibet, 888sport) and Sporting Kansas City 20/1 (Unibet, 888sport, 10Red). The Whitecaps (16-5-13, 45 GF-36 GA) had a very nice season last year, finished in 2nd place in the Western Conference and tied with the Seattle Sounders for allowing the least Goals (26) in the MLS last season, thanks in great part to Whitecaps 31-year-old super GK David Ousted.
The eventual MLS Cup champions (they beat the Crew at Columbus as big underdogs) and Pacific Northwest rival Portland Timbers (7/1 to win MLS Cup 2016, William Hill) stopped the Whitecaps train in the Playoffs, holding them scoreless, so the addition of Japanese Striker Masato Kudo (on a Free Transfer) is welcome. And Sporting Kansas City (14-9-11, 48 GF-45 GA) finished in 6th place in the rugged Western Conference and almost didn’t make the Playoffs, but with such a solid Home-pitch edge (10-5-2, 29 GF-20 GA), SKC could hold value at these current (small market oblivious) 20/1 current odds and may open up a hedging possibility somewhere down the line should they make the Semifinals.
MLS CUP 2016 OPENING ODDS FUTURES BOOK PICKS: Vancouver Whitecaps 17/1, Sporting Kansas City 20/1, Montreal Impact 33/1 (888sport)