The MLS may not be among the top leagues in global football but surely it has gained popularity over the past few years. With more and more world class footballing icons joining the MLS, the league has been getting more interest from soccer fans and sports betting enthusiasts alike. The league has also gotten increasingly profitable over the years: Average league franchise (club) valuations jumped from $37M in 2008 to $157M in 2015. By 2017 the average franchise valuation was at $223M.
Major League Soccer (MLS) is the top competitive soccer division in both the United States and Canada. The current league comprises 23 teams – 20 from the US and 3 from Canada. The MLS Regular Season uses a point system for league rankings: 3 points for a win, 1 point for a tie, and 0 points for a loss. Each team will play a total of 34 games, 17 at their home stadium and 17 at an opponent’s stadium. MLS clubs are divided into Eastern and Western Conferences.
Clubs will have to play each conference opponent twice and each non-conference opponent once. Unlike most European league formats but similar to some North American systems, once the Regular Season has ended, the top 6 teams from each conference will then go through Playoffs to determine the league champion and will be awarded the MLS Cup. The MLS Cup winners are guaranteed a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League and the club with the most points earned at the end of the Regular Season is awarded the Supporter’s Shield and is also automatically qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League.
The Designated Player Rule
The arrival of “Designated Players” in the MLS helped the league’s rise to prominence. The Designated Player Rule, fondly known as the David Beckham Rule, allowed each MLS franchise/club to sign up to three players that would be considered outside the team’s salary cap (in wages or by paying transfer fees). David Beckham was the first Designated Player in the MLS when he joined LA Galaxy in 2007. Since then, the MLS has been able to attract world class talents into the league such as Andrea Pirlo, Bastian Schweinsteiger, David Villa, Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Kaka, Steven Gerrard, Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill, Wayne Rooney, and Zlatan Ibrahimović to name a few.
Features of a good MLS Betting Site:
Many online sportsbooks have acknowledged the public interest in the MLS. With the league continuously growing to include a 24th team by 2019, and with plans to expand to 26 teams by 2022, online sportsbooks will surely be paying close attention to the league if they haven’t been doing so already. Although we won’t be going into much detail about our MLS betting site picks, here are a few things to look out for when choosing betting sites:
This is arguably the most basic aspect to look out for when choosing an MLS betting site. Any sporting fan knows that it’s not just about which team won or lost a game. You’d want to know how the game was won, who had a stellar performance, who scored the winning goal, who made crucial defensive blocks, etc. etc. A good betting site should be able to have betting options for these points of interest. Sample odds could include:
- Total goals scored in the game
- Goals per team
- Which player scored the opening/closing goal
- How many corner kicks were taken during the game
- How many bookings were given
- Half time scores
- Live Betting
There will be times when you’d like to make a bet on the game as it happens. Whether you were too busy to place your bet on your favorite team before the game started, or a crucial change to the roster that could increase your chances of winning was made at halftime, you will surely be able to benefit from a sports betting site that takes in bets while the game progresses.
The best sportsbook sites have promotions all season long. Meaning they don’t just advertise heavily at the start of the season to encourage you to make a deposit then leave you hanging midway. Also, take advantage of deposit bonuses or free bets. If a site is willing to match 100% of your deposit, all the better.
In this day and age, a betting site that isn’t mobile friendly/ready is unacceptable. You will want the option to place you bets even when you aren’t in front of a desktop/laptop computer. Not having the convenience of accessing the sports betting site quite literally at the palm of your hand, whenever you want, wherever you are (provided you have good mobile data connection, of course) is rather limiting – especially for live betting. Be it an app version or a mobile ready version of the site, as long as the sports betting site has a friendly user interface that you can easily understand and navigate, you should be good to go.
Basic MLS Strategy
Here’s a basic betting strategy from our onboard betting experts. Think of it as a Betting 101 – nothing too complex but should cover a few rules, so to speak, when betting on MLS games.
Give yourself a bankroll.
If you are to make a serious hobby out of sports betting, start by giving yourself a budget and a spending limit. Play only with money that you can afford to let go off. This way betting will always be enjoyable and it won’t compromise the rest of your finances.
Don’t bet on each game.
Instead of trying to “maximize” all games by placing wagers on gutt-feels on an outcome, pick one or a few clubs you’re genuinely interested in and STUDY them. Study your teams’ strengths and weaknesses AND study the same of their upcoming opponents. From there you will be able to make an educated decision on which team will win and why. By choosing your battles, you’ll be able to have higher chances of winning without spreading your bankroll too thin.
Keep track of the bets you’ve made.
There are 2 very good reasons for doing this. The first, so you know just how much exactly you’ve won (or lost) from all your betting decisions and secondly, so you know just how good an analyst you are. By keeping a log of all your bets and betting decisions you will be able to see what decisions made you the most gains, what bets rarely win for you, if you are good at predicting the details of the game (who scored the most goals, how many goalie saves, how many attempts) or are you better at big picture bets (i.e. Atlanta FC will win the Supporter’s Shield, LA will win over Toronto, etc.).
Check historical League Standings
Especially if you’re new to the league – betting on a team because they have a nice jersey or the team name sounds strong just won’t cut it. Sure you might get lucky at times but chances are you’ll be loosing more money on random picks than if you knew who you were supporting.
Check which clubs are frequently at the top positions, which clubs are able to consistently hold their ranks, which clubs are new, etc. Sure there will be other factors that can affect their games and their standings each season but at least you have a good idea how the team is likely to fare against another.
Check the club’s form and injury list
They may not be the strongest club on paper but they could have momentum going for them. Pay attention to winning streaks, loosing streaks and try to figure out WHY. Is a player having the best form of his career? Do they have a new coach? Is the team handicapped by injured players in their roster?
Also check a club’s home and away forms. Do they win more games at their home stadium than they do when visiting opponent stadiums? Do they have a better record away? Or are they consistent either way?
Check the team’s designated players
The Designated Players should make a strong impact on the performance of the team. Otherwise, why spend so much on them? Learn more about your designated players and find out HOW they influence the game. Are they excellent at finding passes? Are they unstoppable strikers? Are they solid defenders? Their involvement will surely affect the outcome of your bets.
Take advantage of Live Betting
Lastly, make the most out of Live Betting. If you see something happening on the pitch that you didn’t anticipate but know could change the course of the game, why not use it to your advantage? Maximize a win or minimize a loss, live betting should allow you to make real time adjustments like a football manager.
Best MLS Betting Sites
When making a review on a sports betting site, we try to put ourselves in the shoes of the sports gambler. We consider aspects of a sport that the gamblers are likely to pay attention to or want to make a bet on. For instance, fouls or bookings in soccer are not as easily given compared to fouls in basketball. The number of bookings in each game will be very different for both sports. A soccer gambler is more likely to be concerned about the number of yellow cards given in a game compared to a basketball player counting fouls.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled this list of Recommended MLS betting sites. These companies have been highly rated by our team and have a great selection of MLS bets for you to choose from. Of course, these sites were also rated based on customer service, payment methods, and withdrawal options available. We encourage you to look at each one, see if any differences matter to you personally, and then look for the best odds on the games you want to bet on!
With the MLS showing no signs of slowing down, expect to hear more about the league on the streets and in the sports betting scene. Hopefully our review helps you make winning decisions. Good luck with the bets!