- The Columbus Crew were the league’s highest scoring team and are back in the MLS Cup Final after winning in 2020
- LAFC look to defend their title from last season and have the league’s Golden Boot winner in Denis Bouanga
- Read on for the Columbus vs LAFC odds and our top MLS Cup prediction here
It’s down to the final two teams with the Columbus Crew representing the Eastern Conference and Los Angeles FC representing the Western Conference in Saturday’s 2023 MLS Cup Final at 4:00 pm EST at Columbus’ Lower.com Field. It’s the home team Crew favored at +120 odds to win in regulation in the Columbus Crew vs LAFC odds and MLS Cup predictions.
The Crew will be looking to win their club’s third MLS Cup, having last won in 2020, winning 3-0 at home over Seattle. For Los Angeles, they return to MLS Cup looking to defend their title after winning MLS Cup last season in penalties after a 3-3 draw at home over Philadelphia.
Columbus Crew vs LAFC Odds
|To Lift Trophy
The MLS Cup odds list Columbus as the favorites on Saturday at +120 odds for the MLS Cup. The current champs, LAFC come in at +210. That means the Crew has an implied probability of 45.45% to win in regulation. But when it comes to simply lifting the trophy by any means, be it winning in regulation, extra-time or penalties, the Crew are odds-on at -163.
The total goals in this game is set at 2.5 with the Over favored at -118 and the Under priced at -106.
How to Watch MLS Cup
The 2023 MLS Cup can be viewed for free on Apply TV at 4:00 pm EST on Saturday, December 9, 2023. In Canada, the game can also be viewed on TSN and RDS.
Crew Highest Scoring Team This Season
The Crew were third in the Eastern Conference this season but first when it comes to goalscoring. Considering they had a new coach in Wilfried Nancy and lost one of their top players in Lucas Zelarayan in mid-season, a return to the final after missing the playoffs last year makes them an unexpected finalist in this year’s MLS Cup.
Their MLS Cup odds back in February were an average of +2550.
That goalscoring trend has continued in the playoffs where they’ve scored ten goals in regulation and 13 combined including extra-time over their five playoff games, easily a playoff high, ahead of LAFC’s nine goals.
The Crew’s attacking style though often leaves them exposed at the back. And their goals allowed in the regular season was just 13th-best. Their xGA was ninth and shots on target allowed was tied-13th.
Among the 18 playoff teams, their 46 goals conceded was the sixth-most. And that issue has also continued into the playoffs with them giving up eight goals in five games.
In the Eastern Conference Final they were almost run off the pitch early in Cincinnati falling behind in the 14′ minute, entering half-time down 2-0 and almost conceding a third or even fourth goal in the second-half.
It wasn’t until the last 20 minutes or so of the game which saw substitutes Julian Gressel and Christian Ramirez sub on, that the Crew rounded into form. From there they began to take over the game scoring in the 75′ (own goal) and 86′ to send the game to extra-time where Ramirez scored the winner with Cucho Hernandez assisting.
El Rey 👑
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) December 7, 2023
LAFC Can Be First Back-to-Back Winners Since 2011/2012
If Columbus are a surprise entrant into the final based on pre-season expectations, LAFC, while underdogs in this game, were not so all season long in the odds. They started among the favorites in the MLS Cup predictions in the +450 range.
This will be their third final they’ve participated in this season, but they’ll be hoping to avoid going 0-3 in those finals. They previously lost to Club Leon of Mexico in the CONCACAF Champions League Final. As well as to another Mexican side, Tigres in the Campeones Cup Final.
While LAFC at times ebbed and flowed in their performances this season, they too finished third in the Western Conference. They finished the season on a high winning 5-2, 4-2 and drawing 1-1. Denis Bouanga won the Golden Boot, while denfensively they were also strong.
The 39 goals conceded by LAFC was fifth overall, they were sixth in xGA and third in shots on target allowed.
In the playoffs they’re a perfect 4-0 winning 5-2, 1-0, 1-0 and then 2-0 in the Western Final over the Houston Dynamo. LAFC only had the ball for 29% of the game, but their pressing, countering and transition game still produced 18 shots to Houston’s 10 and six shots on target to Houston’s five.
Ryan Hollingshead scored in the 44′ minute off a corner kick and LAFC added a second late in the game in the 80′ from an own goal.
It’s now three-straight clean sheets for Maxime Crepeau and LAFC in the playoffs. And for Crepeau, who was forced to leave last year’s final with a broken leg, the return to the big game this year will be special.
Columbus Crew vs Los Angeles FC MLS Stats
|16-9-9 (57 pts / 3rd in East)
|Record WDL (Standings)
|14-10-10 (52 pts / 3rd in West)
|67 / 57.7
|Goals For / xG
|54 / 55.6
|46 / 41.3
|Goals Against / xGA
|39 / 38.0
|2nd / 4th
|Shots / On Target
|1st / 2nd
|Cucho Hernandez (16)
|Denis Bouanga (20)
*Regular season stats
Columbus vs LAFC Projected Starting Lineups and Injuries
Here are the projected 2023 MLS Cup starting XIs.
Columbus Crew Projected Lineup: Schulte; Amundsen, Camacho, Moreira; Yeboah, Morris, Nagbe, Farsi; Rossi, Matan; Hernandez
Injuries & absences: Sands
LAFC Projected Lineup: Crepeau; Palacios, Chiellini, Murillo, Hollingshead; Acosta, Ilie, Tillman; Bouanga, Vela, Olivera
Injuries & absences: None
MLS Cup Goalscoring Props
|Anytime Scorer Odds
|Cucho Hernandez (CLB)
|Denis Bouanga (LA)
|Christian Ramirez (CLB)
|Carlos Vela (LA)
|Jacen Russell-Rowe (CLB)
|Diego Rossi (LA)
|Max Arfsten (CLB)
|Alexandru Matan (CLB)
|Gibran Rayo (CLB)
|Kevin Molino (CLB)
|Mario Gonzalez (LA)
|Nathan Ordaz (LA)
|Stipe Biuk (LA)
No surprise here, the MLS Cup odds for anytime scorers favor the top two stars in the game. Cucho is most favored at +120 odds, followed by Bouanga at +160. They were first, Bouanga, and fourth, Cucho, in regular season scoring and both have scored four goals in the post-season.
If you count up all the goal contributions from Bouanga in all competitions this season, he has 38, which is just one shy of Vela’s record from 2019.
If one of the US betting sites you use offers, assists, you could also target Cucho here among your MLS Cup picks. He had 11 assists in the regular season, and another two in the playoffs. Teammate Diego Rossi is one of four players in the playoffs with three assists. Meanwhile, Vela had 10 for LAFC.
Cucho Hernandez and Denis Bouanga share high praise for one another, only one will come out on 🔝.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) December 8, 2023
Having now come off the bench to score back-to-back game-winning goals, Ramirez at +187 for Columbus has proven to be a good bet as well.
Not listed among those top ten players to score in the MLS Cup predictions is LAFC defender Ryan Hollingshead. If you’re looking for a big value bet, he’s your man. Hollingshead is priced at +700 odds, but he is third in MLS Cup Playoffs scoring with three goals behind Hernandez and Bouanga. He was LAFC’s third-leading scorer in the regular season as well with seven goals.
Columbus Crew vs LAFC Prediction
The Crew averaged the highest possession of any team this season. They’ll likely do so again here. LAFC were more than willing to concede possession to Houston and it worked. They can take the same approach here. The main difference I see though is that the Dynamo lacked quality finishers to take advantage of all of that possession. Columbus do not.
If you’ve been betting on Crew games this season, you’ll know that their games produce goals. In the 45 overall games they’ve played in all competitions, there have been at least two goals in 42 of them. In those 45 games, they’ve scored in an incredible 41, but have also conceded in 34.
For LAFC, their games have also seen two or more goals in 40/51 across of all of their games in all competitions.
You can’t really go wrong with either of these teams in your MLS Cup prediction. Both have had outstanding seasons, are well-coached, healthy and have star players in fantastic form. The Crew have the home-field and have just one home loss since August 2022. But LAFC have the finals experience and if there is one weakness between these teams it’s the Columbus defense. Force me to pick a winner and I’ll lean to the champs defending their title.
To me, the better bet is backing goals. Even a bet on each team scoring one goal can still be had at -140 odds at Caesars. I struggle to see that not happening. But if you want to push this up into plus-money head on over to Bet365 or another book with this market and you can back the combo bet of “Both teams to score & Over 2.5 goals” which comes in at +120 odds.
- Columbus Crew vs LAFC Picks: Both Teams to Score & Over 2.5 Goals (+120) at Bet365