Let's break down the key betting categories you need to be aware of for MLS wagering as you bid to turn your sporting expertise into a handsome profit.
The popularity of MLS continues to soar as exciting foreign imports like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney and David Villa join the homegrown talent. The number of franchises keeps growing and the level of competition is constantly improving, so the league is earning more supporters all the time. Betting on MLS is becoming a popular pursuit, but it can be daunting to newcomers to the wonderful world of wagering.
Moneyline betting is far more popular on soccer than on sports like basketball and football. There are two reasons for this. First, the scores are relatively low, so spread betting is trickier to offer. Second, there are three outcomes in a soccer match: home team wins, away team wins or it ends in a tie. This is not the case in the NBA, NHL, and MLB, where a game goes to overtime or extra innings to arrive at a winner. Having three potential outcomes allows for more attractive odds on each.
Here’s an example of an MLS moneyline bet: Seattle is playing Vancouver at CenturyLink Field and it is the -175 favorite to win, the tie is +280 and Vancouver is the +475 underdog. When you see a minus symbol in a set of odds, it tells you how much you need to lay down in order to win $100. To generate a $100 profit on Seattle at -175 you need to stake $175. When you see a plus symbol it tells you how much profit a $100 bet would earn you. A $100 bet at odds of +475 on Vancouver would net you $475 if it won. When your bet is a winner, your stake is returned, so you would be handed back $575. Of course, you do not have to bet $100. You could bet $10 and you would be returned $57.50 if Vancouver won. Check out our guide to reading odds for a more in-depth look at this.
Spread betting involves giving one team a handicap in order to skew the odds. Let’s stick with the Seattle-Vancouver example. If you think Seattle will win, but you want to find more attractive odds, you could give it a -1 goal handicap. Now instead of -175 you could be rewarded with more appealing odds of around +140. This means a $10 bet would earn you a $14 profit rather than a $7.50 profit. However, Seattle would have to win by two clear goals in order for your bet to be a winner. You could alternatively go the other way and back Vancouver +2 goals, for example. Then your bet would be a winner if Vancouver either won, drew or suffered only a narrow defeat.
Soccer fans love to bet on the total number of goals in a game. The sportsbooks will set a line, typically 2.5 goals, and you simply have to guess whether the total number of goals scored by both teams will go "over" or "under" that amount. The odds will vary depending on how evenly matched the teams are, recent scorelines in head-to-heads between them, any injuries and how offensive or defensive the teams are in general. You can often find alternative lines, such as 1.5 goals, 3.5 goals and 4.5 goals. Backing "over" 3.5 goals or 4.5 goals is often a better strategy to get value when one team is vastly superior to the other and is expected to record a comfortable victory. Over/under betting is a great option when you are not sure what the result of the game will be, but you have a feeling as to whether it will see plenty of goals or very few goals. You can also bet over/under on markets like total corners and total cards shown.
There are all manner of special bets to choose from in an MLS game, including first goalscorer, last goalscorer, man of the match, correct score and halftime result, and these are known as prop bets. In the Super Bowl you will see wild prop bets like the color of Gatorade that will be dumped on the winning coach or the length of time it will take the pop star to sing the national anthem, but MLS prop bets are typically a lot more sensible. They are a potential goldmine if you play them properly.
A parlay bet involves predicting the outcome of more than one game. Say you think Seattle will beat Vancouver, the Galaxy will beat the Red Bulls, and Philadelphia will beat Chicago. Instead of placing three single bets on each team, you can combine them all in one bet and you will be rewarded with vastly improved odds. All three selections must win for you to be paid out, but the odds will be a lot more attractive. This is popular among MLS fans trying to make a quick buck, and also on bettors that want to find more value in backing favorites. Check out our parlay betting guide for more on this.
A futures bet is a wager on a long-term event that is not necessarily decided by a single game. The most common is on who will win the MLS Cup. You might find +400 on Atlanta United, +600 on FC Dallas and +700 on the Red Bulls, and you simply place a bet on who you think will lift the trophy at the end of the season. The odds will typically shift on a weekly basis depending on results.