- With three wins in their last four games, Seattle Sounders are currently second in the Western Conference, and have seen odds of winning MLS Cup shorten to +1400
- In the past three years, Seattle has won the MLS Cup, as well as finishing runner-up a year later in 2017
- New York City FC have also been hot of late, having been unbeaten in last seven, with wins in six of those games and seeing MLS Cup odds shorten from +900 to +500 in the last month
While Los Angeles Football Club may have already locked up first place in the Western Conference, the race for second, and home-field advantage through the first two playoff rounds, is still very much alive.
There is no reason to believe that Seattle Sounders FC aren’t the most likely club to secure it, with the team currently sitting second on 49 points. The MLS Cup odds certainly reflect that, with the team currently the second-favorite in the Western Conference behind LAFC to lift the MLS Cup.
MLS Cup Odds
|Los Angeles FC||+150|
|New York City FC||+500|
|Atlanta United FC||+1200|
|Seattle Sounders FC||+1400|
|New England Revolution||+1800|
|San Jose Earthquakes||+2000|
|Minnesota United FC||+2200|
|New York Red Bulls||+2200|
*Odds taken 09/18/19.
After winning three of their last four games, with that lone loss coming during an international break where a number of players were missing, the Seattle Sounders are showing signs of a late-season resurgence.
It’s nothing unusual for Brian Schmetzer’s team though.
Take a look at how the Sounders have surged through the end of the regular season in each of the last three years:
- 2016: 7W-4D-2L (13 games)
- 2017: 8W-7D-2L (17 games)
- 2018: 14W-0D-2L (16 games)
The first season above ended with an MLS Cup, 2017 saw Seattle finish as runners-up and last year ended with a penalty shootout elimination at the hands of the Portland Timbers.
Clearly, Seattle is very much a team that likes to go into the playoffs on a roll.
New Playoff Format
With the new one-and-done playoff format that Major League Soccer has brought in for 2019, the importance of finishing higher up the standings will benefit the likes of Seattle.
— MLS Communications (@MLS_PR) December 17, 2018
The difference between hosting a playoff game and going on the road to try and win one is dramatic. In one-game playoff matches over the years, the higher seed had a .673 winning percentage over 49 games compared to the .551 winning percentage in 78 two-legged aggregate series.
In last year’s shootout elimination, for example, Seattle actually won 3-2 at home in the second leg against Portland. Under this year’s playoff format, the Sounders would have been the team that advanced, not the Timbers.
While Seattle is a conceivable threat to LAFC’s chances of playoff success in the Western Conference, out East, New York City’s rise to the top of the conference standings has been impressive.
NYCFC is in a rich vein of form, unbeaten in seven and with wins in six of those games. As a result, it currently sits five points clear of second-place Philadelphia with four games to go.
Manager Domenic Torrent deserves his share of credit for building a side that is perfectly suited to play on the narrow confines of their Yankee Stadium pitch. The fact that New York City has only lost one game at home says it all.
— Tristan Wyatt (@ttwyatt) May 29, 2015
So if NYCFC finishes top of the East, the road to the MLS Cup will go through the Bronx, and that has to be a sobering thought for the rest of the conference.
And while Seattle would have to battle LAFC on the road to reach MLS Cup, NYCFC could make it there without facing the best team in the league. Then it would just be 90-120 minutes away from glory.
Prediction: While Seattle represents decent value, I’d rather back NYCFC to reach the MLS Cup and pull off an upset.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.