Major League Soccer returns with a bang during July and August with an innovative World Cup style tournament format. Entitled ‘MLS is Back’, the competition will feature 25 teams spread across six groups playing a near daily schedule at a single venue in Florida. Following the completion of the opening phase, 16 teams will progress to the single elimination knockout stage. Read on as we preview each of the groups and predict who we think will go on to win the MLS is Back tournament.
Group A - Orlando City SC, Inter Miami CF, New York City FC, Philadelphia Union, Chicago Fire FC, Nashville SC.
There is little to choose in the odds between the majority of teams in this group, with New York City and Philadelphia marginally heading the betting. New York made a disappointing start to the new season with a pair of defeats, but they have the potential to go a long way in this competition. Philadelphia will also fancy their chances of making progress, particularly with the prolific Kacper Przybylko in their line-up. However, Union have yet to fully resolve their defensive issues, meaning Chicago could be the value bet to win the group. New signings Gaston Gimenez, Ignacio Aliseda and Luka Stojanovic should all shine in the MLS and odds of 5/1 to win Group A are too good to ignore.
Group B - Seattle Sounders FC, Vancouver Whitecaps, San Jose Earthquakes.
The withdrawal of FC Dallas from the tournament has left Group B looking a little threadbare and the tournament’s organisers may yet move another team into this section. Regardless of what happens with the set-up, Seattle are amongst the front-runners to win the competition and should have little trouble progressing to the next stage. The reigning MLS Cup champions boast a talented roster, with the likes of Raul Ruidiaz, Jordan Morris and Nicolas Lodeiro providing plenty of attacking threat. With Stefan Frei in goal, Seattle are likely to be tough to beat and could be worth an interest at odds of around 8/1 to win the tournament. San Jose should also reach the knockout phase, although they lack the defensive strength to progress to the latter stages.
Group C – Toronto FC, New England Revolution, Montreal Impact, DC United.
Toronto FC look banker material at odds of 5/4 to win Group C and they should certainly be capable of at least reaching the quarter-finals. The likes of Alejandro Pozuelo and Michael Bradley give Toronto the star quality that many other teams lack, while Pablo Piatti looks an exciting addition. Toronto’s biggest threat in the group may come from Montreal, with new manager Thierry Henry eager to make his mark in the MLS. Victor Wanyama is an excellent addition in midfield, while Saphir Taider and Bojan have the ability to cause plenty of problems up front. New England and DC United should also be competitive in this section, but the two Canadian sides are fancied to take the top two spots. Younes Namli of Colorado Rapids battles Junior Moreno of DC United for the ball in the first half at Audi Field on February 29, 2020 (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images).
Group D - Real Salt Lake, Sporting Kansas City, Colorado Rapids, Minnesota United FC.
This is perhaps the toughest of all the groups to predict, with none of the four sides losing a game prior to the suspension of play. Colorado look interesting at odds of 3/1 to top the group, particularly with the team’s effectiveness from set pieces. The signings of Braian Galvan and Younes Namli have strengthened a squad that finished last season well and has continued in the same vein this term. The other three teams are certainly capable of making things tough for Colorado, with slight preference for a Kansas side that looks much-improved. The additions of Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda have given SKC a more potent look from an attacking perspective and they should make it through to the knockout stage.
Group E - Atlanta United FC, FC Cincinnati, New York Red Bulls, Columbus Crew SC.
Atlanta are rated as 6/4 favourites to win the group and it would be a brave move backing against them achieving the feat. Ezequiel Barco and Pity Martinez are an exciting attacking duo, while Emerson Hyndman looks a solid addition in midfield following his successful loan spell with the club. The Red Bulls are second favourites in Group E behind Atlanta, but may struggle to play their usual pressing game in the heat of Florida. On that basis Columbus look a good bet to progress to the round of 16, with their possession-based style more suited to the conditions they will face. Darlington Nagbe and Lucas Zelarayan are positive additions to their squad, while Gyasi Zardes could be amongst the top scorers in the MLS this season.
Group F – LAFC, LA Galaxy, Houston Dynamo, Portland Timbers.
This group is dominated by the two Los Angeles teams, with LAFC the odds-on favourites to claim top spot ahead of Galaxy. Their formidable midfield trio of Mark-Anthony Kaye, Latif Blessing and Eduard Atuesta is extremely well-balanced, giving them the platform to dominate games. However, the absence of Carlos Vela from the tournament will leave LAFC hoping that Brian Rodriguez and Diego Rossi can pick up the slack. Galaxy’s odds of 3/1 make them value pick in this section, with the team still containing plenty of attacking talent despite Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s departure. Javier Hernandez and Cristian Pavon could prove to be a handful in the MLS this season and Galaxy are fancied to win Group F.
MLS 2020 Betting Tips
Toronto are the outstanding wager at odds of 5/4 in to win their group. Given their squad strength, Toronto along with the LA teams will be the punters' favourites in the 888sport live betting markets during the shortened season. Javier Hernandes and Gyasi Zardes will definitely be in the running for top scorer, while the best bet in the group stages is undoubtedly Chicago Fire at 5/1 to win their group. With regards to outright winner, LAFC look too short in the betting with Vela out of their team, leaving Seattle as the value bet at 8/1 to lift the trophy.