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The basics of betting on soccer are similar in any country. However, formats for the game differ substantially from country to country. If you’re familiar with betting on European leagues—a popular pastime for many Americans—you’re well on your way to successful betting on soccer in the U.S. However, if this is your first time, you should be aware of a few factors that make American soccer unique before you start placing wagers.

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Betting Interest on the Rise in MLS

Interest within soccer in the United States is on the rise, with Major League Soccer (MLS) serving as the country’s highest level of soccer. Ongoing expansion efforts are expected to add new teams to MLS while also lengthening a long waiting list of cities interested in joining the league.

The interest in the game has been growing, and the interest in betting on the game. The new popularity could be attributed to scoring rates that have been higher than most leagues around the world.

Major League Soccer teams play preseason games in the early weeks of most years. The MLS regular season begins in March, just after the European soccer leagues end their seasons in May.

Betting on the MLS Season

As fans prepare to bet on the Major League Soccer season, they may be asking how MLS is different from European soccer leagues? What insights do you take from betting on European soccer and apply them to soccer in America?

Major League Soccer is inclusive of teams from both the United States and Canada. This is completely different from the rest of the world, where each country has its own league. However, this is no different for American sports bettors than leagues like the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball. A similar betting experience to that in the United States also applies to sports betting in Canada on single games now deemed legal in the country.

Key Considerations for MLS Betting: Travel & Conferences

Like other American professional sports leagues, MLS is divided into Eastern and Western conferences. This helps to reduce travel between cities.

Teams will play more games within their own conference, but they will still play some games against teams in the other conference. This method of scheduling is different from that of other leagues.

New players to Major League Soccer often struggle with the varying climates and long travel across North America. For example, a team could be playing at home in bright sunny California for one week but then have to travel across the country to a colder climate like Minnesota. Again, some fields are indoors, while others are outdoor fields in places like Dallas and Houston, where they require game stoppages for water breaks during periods of extreme heat. The Colorado Rapids’ home games in Commerce City are played at an elevation of 5,164 feet, a whole different aspect to look at.

mls betting picks to win

When NYC FC plays a home game, they do so on a smaller-than-standard pitch at Yankee Stadium. They are almost forced to adapt their style of play.

When handicapping an MLS match, a bettor must consider the role played by the surface of the field, travel, and weather.

Futures Betting on MLS

In contrast to other leagues, the menu of futures bets offered for Major League Soccer is small. Though the sport’s popularity may be growing, bettors are limited in their options for future bets.

When it comes to wagering on the Major League Soccer Cup, bookmakers offer odds on outright winning teams. Since many teams qualify to compete for the league championship, you need to follow future odds closely throughout the season. Hot and cold streaks can make the team’s odds drop or lengthen quickly as they vie for a playoff position.

Because of a salary cap, the MLS is better than other leagues at creating parity between teams. However, several ways allow teams to be flexible with building their squads to exceed the cap. Every team is able to sign up to three Designated Players (DPs), who do not count within the salary cap, and each team gets both General Allocation Money (GAM) and Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) from the league.

Each European league’s season comes to an end in May and June, leaving a small window for players to transfer between teams during the summer. Several big-name stars have joined MLS through this transfer window in recent summers and shaken up the playoffs.

MLS Playoffs

Unlike in most European soccer leagues, where the club that dominated the entirety of the season is declared Champion, MLS crowns its Champion through playoffs, similar to other American sports.

The team which acquires the most points at the tail end of the season is awarded the Supporters’ Shield, named after the fans. Unlike the MLS Cup winner, which can be bet on, you cannot bet on the team to win the Supporters’ Shield. Instead, you can wager on which team will win the MLS Cup at the conclusion of the MLS Cup Playoffs.

To be eligible for the MLS Cup Playoffs, teams must finish in the top seven positions of their respective conferences. The team that eventually finishes first will receive a chance to avoid the first round and will hold a home-ground advantage throughout their conference playoffs.

The MLS Cup final is a one-game match hosted by the highest overall seed remaining from the conference playoffs. This match is played between the winner of each conference, with the winner determined by through the final game.

You can read more about the our MLS picks and tips here

Is there Promotion/Relegation?

We have discussed how promotion and relegation work in other countries, but MLS has not adopted this format.

Unlike other countries, where the lowest teams are relegated to a lower league at the end of the regular season, and the top teams from that lower league are brought up, MLS has no such punishment for finishing at the bottom.

When teams fall too far out of playoff contention, they may not compete at the same level in order to improve draft picks for the following year. Be sure to follow these teams properly before placing a wager.

It’s no different from other American sports, so you probably won’t notice a difference here if you’re new to soccer betting. Instead, MLS is still expanding, and more teams are joining almost every other season.

Action offered by North American Tournaments

The MLS regular season is just one of several competitions that MLS teams compete in during the year. The North American version of the Champions League is a 16-team tournament named the CONCACAF Champions League. It runs from mid-February until early May and features North America, Central America, and the Caribbean teams.

When forecasting the outcome of CCL matches, sports bettors should be aware that Mexican Liga MX teams have an advantage over their MLS counterparts. For starters, Liga MX is a strong league in its own defense, but Mexican teams also have the advantage of being more prepared as they are already in the midseason stage of their league. Whereas when the tournament starts in February, MLS teams have only recently begun preseason.

Before you choose to support an MLS team, consider that as of 2019, a Mexican team has won the CONCACAF Champions League.

Teams qualify for the tournament based on the outcome of their performance in the league the season before. A team can be eligible by winning either the MLS Cup, the Supporters’ Shield, finishing first in its conference, the U.S. Open Cup, or being Champion in the Canadian league.

The MLS competitions listed above run throughout the regular season, just as the Champions League, Europa League, F.A. Cup, Coppa Italia, and other European tournaments would be played during their respective seasons.

The competition includes teams from across North America’s premier soccer league and from lower leagues and amateur divisions. You can find additional betting opportunities on some of these lower leagues in your sportsbook.

Want to Bet on Your Local Team?

If you’re not a morning person but love betting on soccer, then Major League Soccer is for you! You’ll be able to bet on games all over the United States and Canada, so the timing of games will be more to your liking. Plus, we’ve got everything you need if you need help getting started!

Now that you know how Major League Soccer differs from soccer leagues in Europe, you’re ready to learn more about betting on sports.

Where can I learn more about Sports Bets?

You can learn more about sports bets by using our betting guide where we will publish more information about strategy, tactics and everything else to help you make successful bets.

For More Of Our Betting Guide

If you found that article informative and valuable, please be sure to check out more of our betting guide here.

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