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MLS is Back Tournament Group A Odds & Betting Preview: NYCFC & Philadelphia Union Favored

Quinn Allen

by Quinn Allen in Soccer News

Updated Mar 10, 2021 · 1:37 PM PST

MLS ball on the display before the Chicago Fire and Portland Timbers an MLS soccer match, Saturday, March 31, 2018, in Bridgeview, Ill. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
  • MLS is Back Tournament is set to begin on July 8th, with all 26 teams split into six different groups
  • In Pool A, the top three clubs will qualify for the playoffs, with NYCFC and Philadelphia Union the current favorites to win the group
  • Get the full odds, preview, and best bets for Group A below

After Major League Soccer was shut down after just a few matches into the 2020 season because of COVID-19, there was a lot of doubt to if the league would even continue. But after mapping out a well-thought plan, MLS will be returning on Wednesday, July 8th, playing a month-long tournament that will conclude on August 11th with MLS Cup up for grabs. The entire competition will be played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando.

Each group has been formed based on the respective conferences, with group A having six teams, while the others all consist of just four sides. Orlando City SC is considered the host of the tournament, therefore they were placed in the first group. However, each team in group A will face just three other clubs in round-robin play. Inter Miami was also put in this group in order to face Orlando in the opening fixture. A total of three teams will qualify for the playoffs from group A.

MLS is Back Tournament Group A Odds

Team Odds to Qualify Odds to Win Group A
New York City FC -200 +185
Philadelphia Union -130 +350
Inter Miami +125 +500
Orlando City SC +125 +500
Chicago Fire +175 +650
Nashville SC +400 +1400

Odds taken July 5th.

New York City FC currently has the best odds to win and qualify from a competitive Group A. In regards to winning the entire tournament, LAFC and Atlanta United are the favorites to lift MLS Cup.

A Look at Philly and NYCFC

Despite losing their only two matches this season before MLS was shut down in early March, NYCFC enters this tournament as a clear favorite in their group. In 2019, they finished atop the Eastern Conference with 64 points but were upset by Toronto FC on home soil in the Conference Semifinals. Ronny Deila’s side failed to score a goal against Columbus and Toronto in their first two fixtures of 2020, but with a prolonged break from action, that shouldn’t play a factor in their success in Orlando. Star striker Heber will be looking to build off an impressive 2019 campaign where he bagged 15 goals.

Philadelphia Union will pose a real threat to NYCFC in this group, having finished third in the East last season. The Union lost and tied a match in their two fixtures before the hiatus, playing to a gritty 3-3 draw against a top-notch LAFC side. They’re winless against NYCFC in their last four meetings, but anything is possible in a different setting for all of these teams. Philly will be looking for Kacper Przybyłko to continue his brilliance in the final third after netting 15 times last term.

Other Teams to Watch

Inter Miami was an intriguing squad to watch in their limited appearances. Although they failed to secure three points in two matches, Diego Alonso’s men fought hard and were defeated by small margins. One of the two brand new teams in MLS, Inter Miami’s squad consists of players who have all played in Major League Soccer. Considering they will be playing in their home state, Inter could be a team that may surprise and qualify out of group A.

Orlando City SC will be the host team in the tournament. They will need any advantage possible after finishing in second-last in the Eastern Conference in 2019. Although Orlando has renowned Portuguese star Nani, they’ve struggled to put together results since joining MLS. He will likely lead the way on the attack for this side, having scored 12 goals last season. However, playing in their home city could definitely help Orlando City in this tournament.

The Chicago Fire have struggled for a number of years now, but things are looking positive as they head to Orlando. The offseason was a crucial one for the Fire, adding numerous key signings such as Boris Sekulic, Luka Stojanovic, and several more. They’ve added more quality to their squad and in return, they could actually impress in Florida. It’s not an easy group by any means, but the necessary changes Chicago has made could pay off instantly.

Nashville SC joins Inter Miami as the other side who are making their debut in MLS this season. They lost both of their matches back in March by scorelines of 2-1 and 1-0. They currently have the worst odds of any team in group A for qualifying, but it’s understandable being a brand new franchise. However, they will play Orlando, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Nashville has the ability to put up results against their first two opponents, with the Union being the only team that is clearly better.

Best Bets

As for the winner of group A, I’m going with NYCFC. They will be looking to build off a solid 2019 season. Their first match against Philly will be their toughest test, but after that, Orlando and Chicago shouldn’t be an issue. Since three teams qualify from this group, I believe it will be NYCFC, Philadelphia, and Inter Miami.

Pick to Win Group A: NYCFC +185

Picks to Qualify From Group A: NYCFC -200, Philadelphia -130, Inter Miami +125

More MLS is Back Tournament Group Previews


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