Major League Soccer is back!
I can’t tell if MLS has a really simple marketing strategy, or they just never want us to forget the 9 a.m. summer morning kickoffs from the MLS is Back tournament.
MLS will be back in our lives on Saturday afternoon, just over two-and-a-half months since New York City FC was crowned MLS Cup champion.
The 2022 regular season begins Saturday and lasts until the first weekend of October.
There will be a ton of opportunities to bet on MLS throughout the calendar because of 34 matchweeks and the 28 teams in the league. Welcome, Charlotte FC.
Before we get into the beginners’ guide to betting on MLS, I need to make this very clear.
MLS is wild, unpredictable, wacky and does not make sense on a very frequent basis.
Heavy favorites will lose, large underdogs will cash and some ridiculous goal totals will appear.
With that being said, here’s a MLS Betting 101 for those of you new to the league (Welcome!) and those of you dabbling in betting on the competition for the first time (Welcome to you all as well!)
More Factors In Play Than In Any Other Soccer League
The longest road trips in the English Premier League are around 300 miles.
In MLS, we look at that number and laugh. Seriously, that’s one of our favorite things to do on Twitter when fans in European leagues complain about distance traveled.
With the league going back to its pre-pandemic scheduling, there will be some ridiculously long road trips in play almost every week.
For example, the Vancouver Whitecaps visit the Columbus Crew and the New York Red Bulls travel to face the San Jose Earthquakes in Week 1.
Travel will become more of an issue as the season goes on and more wear and tear is added to players’ legs.
The good news this year is that midweek games have been mostly taken away from the league schedule. In the last two seasons, midweek games were abundant on the schedule because of the need to get games in.
Additionally, the heat across the southern United States in the summer is something most new players are not used to.
Summer games in places like Houston, Dallas, Orlando and Miami will have an effect on visiting teams, especially those with lineups loaded with foreign players that may see the humidity as a shock, but we will get to that more when the weather turns.
Home-Field Advantage Matters
Ten of the 14 teams that qualified for the MLS postseason won at least nine home games in the 2021 regular season.
Every team that entered the playoff field picked up eight victories on home soil.
Only four of the 13 clubs that did not make the playoffs had four or five road wins.
Translation: The good or great teams will win a majority of their home games.
Which leads me to the next point .
We Will Know Who The Bad Teams Are Pretty Much Right Away
You don’t win the Supporters’ Shield (most regular-season points) or MLS Cup in March or April.
However, you can lose out on a playoff spot with a tumultuous start over the first two months of play.
FC Cincinnati has held this honor for all of its existence. That could change with new leadership in charge, but it will be one of the teams I have my eyes on early.
By the time mid-April or May rolls around, there should be a list of 3-5 teams that are 100 percent worth fading for the coming months.
Changes in form will happen for most teams, but will definitely have an idea of the bad teams right away. Trust me, it’s usually very obvious.
Pay Attention To Goal Scorer Props
If you pay close attention to a handful of teams, you may be able to find some favorable odds on the goal scorer prop list.
For example, Daniel Gazdag of the Philadelphia Union was regularly listed above +300 to score after he joined the team last season. That is a high number for someone in an attacking midfield spot.
That is just a local example, but there could be a few large numbers attached to certain players that may not have their roles defined in MLS yet, or are smaller names that don’t attract more interest, like Carlos Vela or Chicharito.
I’m not saying that you will find this every week, but if you do some digging, you could find a few spots to take advantage of.
Don’t Fire Blindly on Bets
This is a rule I apply to every sport, but it rings true more for wagering on MLS.
Coverage of the league has grown over the last few years and there is enough information and data out there for you to find some favorable spots.
MLS typically updates its injury report 24 hours before match days and beat writers and team reporters are good resources to use. You can also utilize Twitter search to find some updates on key players.
Sites like FBRef.com and WhoScored are good to use as well for data points, like expected goals, to see how players and teams are performing.
There will be some results that defy the data. That’s just life in MLS, but the numbers and information available can help you narrow down what to wager on throughout the season.