The MLS season is entering it's business stage now as the playoffs are finally upon us following an enthralling regular season.
12 teams including the New York Red Bulls, Austin FC, David Beckham's Inter Miami CF and CF Montreal will go head to head for a place in the last eight of the Audi MLS Cup following a round of fixtures that sees the division champions LA FC and Philadelphia Union awaiting to find out their fate after being given byes.
We'll take a look at the best contenders to lift the trophy on November 5th this season, and provide you with our best free MLS picks to see if we can earn you some extra cash ahead of what is set to be a fantastic playoff tournament for soccer fans.
|MLS Cup 2022|
|Los Angeles FC||+200||+200||+200|
|New York City FC||+900||+900||+900|
|New York Red Bulls||+1400||+1400||+1400|
|Inter Miami CF||+3300||+3300||+3300|
|Orlando City SC||+4000||+4000||+3900|
|Real Salt Lake||+5000||+5000||+4900|
Learn more about how to bet on the MLS playoffs here.
MLS Eastern Conference Round One
- (4) New York Red Bulls vs. (5) FC Cincinnati - Saturday, Oct. 15 at noon ET
- (2) CF Montreal vs. (7) Orlando City SC - Sunday, Oct. 16 at 8 pm ET
- (3) New York City FC vs. (6) Inter Miami CF - Monday, Oct. 17 at 7 pm ET
MLS Western Conference Round One
- (4) LA Galaxy vs. (5) Nashville SC - Saturday, Oct. 15 at 3 pm ET
- (2) Austin FC vs. (7) Real Salt Lake - Sunday, Oct. 16 at 3 pm ET
- (3) FC Dallas vs. (6) Minnesota United FC - Monday, Oct. 17 at 9:30 pm ET
In the Conference semi-finals, the No. 1 seed plays the 4/5 winner, while the 2/7 winner plays the 3/6 winner, with the higher seed hosting. These are all one-legged ties, with extra-time and penalties deciding the winner should they be level after 90 minutes of action.
The Conference Finals feature the semi-final winners, again with the higher-seeded team hosting and the extra time and penalty provisions in place.
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MLS Cup Contenders
Los Angeles FC - (+200)
Los Angeles FC are the favorites because they're the best team with the best players, boasting a roster that includes the likes of Gareth Bale, Giorgio Chiellini, and Carlos Vela within the ranks.
It’s a franchise with a real thirst for winning silverware and having already bagged the Supporters’ Shield for 2022, the team’s top scorer, Cristian Arango would love to put a trophy to his goal-laden season. However, when it comes to the big crunch-time games, LAFC has struggled.
In the three games against other top contenders Philadelphia Union and Austin FC they earned one draw and two defeats, showing they're far from invincible against other good sides. This is likely to set a cat amongst the pigeons when they get to the final stages, but their individual quality and experience of winning should be enough to see them over the line.
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Philadelphia Union - (+350)
Philadelphia Union is most certainly going in the right direction under Jim Curtin, with really strong performances during the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
The team topped the Eastern Conference standings in 2021 while going all the way to the Conference Championship final last season, despite finishing sixth in the standings. That experience, plus another year under their belt of competing at the top, will only be a positive thing for them heading into the postseason this time around.
Of course, the form of Daniel Gazdag is crucial as the primary goal threat for Philadelphia. The Hungarian attacking midfielder finished the regular season with a hat-trick in a dominant 4-0 victory over Toronto FC and with 22 goals across the regular campaign, he’ll be a focal point in their postseason efforts.
They're the biggest threat to stopping LA FC, and at +350 they're worth a punt.
Austin FC - (+800)
Austin FC boasts two of the division’s best offensive threats in the form of Sebastian Driussi and Diego Fagundez. This South American pair have consistently combined to give the newest Texas franchise an outrageously efficient attack, and that's why they're outsiders for the crown.
Of course, some might consider it to be too early for Austin to win a title, with the club just in its second season. But Austin can dream to do the same as Atlanta United did with this offense, especially if they keep their regular season form running. If these two can link up throughout the MLS playoffs, there’s no doubt they will cause teams problems and with regular season wins over favorites LA FC, don't write them off.
New York City FC - (+900)
They may not be as good as they were last season, but they're the reigning champions for a reason and simply can't be overlooked.
New York City FC might have only joined Major League Soccer in 2015 but has arguably eclipsed its Hudson River rivals, having captured the league title last season. There is plenty of quality in this league, but NYCFC lost their biggest threat when Valentin Castellanos left the club in the summer to head to Europe.
This year Santiago Rodríguez has been incredibly prolific as an assist-maker for the team with 10 in the regular season. Should he keep that form going forward it’ll be hard to keep them out of the conversation.
Another key reason to back New York City is their form going into the postseason. They had three successive victories in the league after lifting the Campeones Cup in the prior match. That winning form came from a stern defence which conceded just one goal in 360+ minutes of play, but their lack of a goal threat means it's really hard to see them retaining this time around.
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