- The MLS Cup Conference Championships are set, and odds favor Atlanta and Sporting KC meeting in MLS Cup on December 8th
- Can either Atlanta or New York win their first-ever MLS Cup?
- Will the West’s top seed SKC make their first trip to MLS Cup since winning the trophy in 2013?
The MLS Cup Conference Finals kick off with first Legs starting on Sunday, November 25th. As you can see below, with average odds of +145 and +300, Atlanta and Sporting KC are favored to meet in the final.
Check out how each club’s odds have adjusted this season with our MLS Cup Odds Tracker.
Odds to Win the 2018 MLS Cup
The power looks to reside in the East, but who is the best bet to win MLS Cup?
2018 MLS Cup Odds
|Which Team Will Win the MLS Cup?||Odds|
|New York Red Bulls||+275|
|Sporting Kansas City||+300|
Eastern Conference Finals Preview
New York Red Bulls Hope to Break Shield Curse
The Red Bulls were given a brief scare by falling 1-0 to Columbus in Leg 1. On the return trip home New York showed their class and ran out to their sixth-straight home clean sheet
After a brief stumble down the stretch of the regular season which saw them give up their Supporters Shield position, Atlanta were back to their dominant selves in the Eastern Semi-Finals defeating New York City FC in both Legs by a combined score of 4-1.
Leg 1 Odds
|Team||Leg 1 Odds||Odds To Qualify|
NYRB had the best home record in MLS this season as well as only allowing 10 goals on home soil, which tied for best overall. Inside the friendly confines of Red Bull Arena, New York struck early with a goal from Alex Muyl in the 17′ minute. Daniel Royer added two more within three minutes at 73′ and 76′ to send Red Bull to the Eastern Final.
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 12, 2018
Playoff success has eluded New York having lost in the Semi-Finals despite winning the Supporters Shield in each of 2013 and 2015. They also came up short in the Semis in 2017.
New York vs Atlanta Regular Season Statistical Comparison
|14-1-2||Record Home (W-D-L)||11-4-2|
|8-4-5||Record Away (W-D-L)||10-2-5|
The Five Stripes went on the road to Yankee Stadium in Leg 1 and frustrated New York City FC by not allowing a single shot on target. Eric Remedi’s 37′ minute goal proved to be the game’s only goal.
Claiming that road goal in Leg 1 was a huge confidence boost, and Atlanta wasted little time in stomping out any chance New York had of making a comeback at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Josef Martínez scored on a PK at 25′ and Miguel Almirón from a free kick at 45′ as Atlanta jumped ahead 2-0.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) November 14, 2018
While NYC were able to pull one back before half from a free kick of their own, it was the only goal they could score. Martínez’ second at 83′ would officially seal the win for Atlanta.
Things look to be back on track in Atlanta with Almirón recovered from a hamstring injury and record-breaking goal scorer Martínez finding the back of the net again.
Things look to be back on track in Atlanta with Almirón recovered from a hamstring injury and record-breaking goal scorer Martínez finding the back of the net again after a cold streak to end the regular season.
These teams met twice during the regular season with Red Bulls winning 3-1 on the road and 2-0 at home as recently as September 30th – a match they played without Bradley Wright-Phillips and Tyler Adams.
Asked Bradley Wright-Phillips about scoreboard watching during the Red Bulls’ Supporters’ Shield-winning victory on Sunday and he gave this hilarious gem complete w/a Kaku impression that’ll have you rolling: #RBNY #MLS pic.twitter.com/Pte2trQp4n
— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) October 29, 2018
Western Conference Finals Preview
Can Portland Upset Top-Seeded SKC?
Sporting took advantage of home field in the second Leg of their Semi-Finals matchup with Real Salt Lake. SKC won 4-2 on Sunday after drawing 1-1 in Salt Lake.
Sporting will face the Portland Timbers who finished fifth in the West. The Timbers won both Legs of their Semi against Seattle by winning 2-1 at home and going the full distance in Seattle to win on penalties.
Leg 1 Odds
|Team||Leg 1 Odds||Odds To Qualify|
|Sporting Kansas City||+235||TBA|
While SKC holds the higher seed, they also hold an edge over Portland in head-to-head play. Sporting were able to leave Providence Park with a 0-0 draw in June, while cruising to a 3-0 home win over Portland at Children’s Mercy.
Sporting were able to leave Providence Park with a 0-0 draw in June, while cruising to a 3-0 home win over Portland at Children’s Mercy.
Diego Rubio was the key man in that match with two goals in the first half. However, due to yellow card accumulation Rubio will miss out on Leg 1 through suspension. Rubio has also been important in the playoffs with two of SKC’s five goals.
Sporting KC are moving on! ?
They get the job done at home against Real Salt Lake and are headed to the Western Conference Finals. pic.twitter.com/tC1Pih8urT
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 11, 2018
Sporting are no strangers to the playoffs having won MLS Cup in 2013. However since that title, they were eliminated in the Knockout Round the next four years. One of those eliminations came at the hands of Portland in 2015.
SKC vs Portland Regular Season Stats
|18-8-8||Record Overall (W-D-L)||15-9-10|
|10-5-2||Record Home (W-D-L)||11-4-2|
|8-3-6||Record Away (W-D-L)||4-5-8|
The Timbers not only knocked out their Cascadia rivals in Seattle, but also eliminated the league’s hottest team going into the playoffs. If any of the four remaining clubs are in need of the two-week break it’s the Timbers.
Only Portland needed to advance through the Knockout Round which saw them travel to Dallas and win 2-1. Being tied on aggregate at end of Full Time and Extra Time of Leg 2 in Seattle required them to advance by a 4-2 score on penalties.
An incredible night in Audi #MLSCupPlayoffs history.
See all the highlights from the Portland Timbers' dramatic victory over Seattle in our 90' in 90" pic.twitter.com/L8bKEsbQ06
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 9, 2018
Is the Eastern Final the Real Final?
I wrote about how Atlanta and New York were co-favorites for MLS Cup entering the playoffs and I believe that still holds true. They are clearly the best two clubs and whomever wins between them will host MLS Cup, which will be a huge advantage.
I have Atlanta at +400 from earlier this year in my pocket to win MLS Cup and while I feel good about it, I feel just a little better about the Red Bulls right now. They’ve been building for this moment for years and just seem to be the more complete team. Atlanta have also never defeated the Red Bulls in four meetings.
"I have just happiness in my body."
— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) November 9, 2018
In the West I’ll back an upset with the Portland Timbers, who are no strangers to the playoffs themselves. Portland lost in the Semis last season and won MLS Cup in 2015. They’ll also have the best player on the field in Diego Valeri.
Eastern Conference Bet: New York Red Bulls
Western Conference Bet: Portland Timbers
MLS Cup Bet: New York Red Bulls
Let's have fun and keep it civil.