MLS Betting – The Basics

Navigating Major League Soccer (MLS) betting can be a challenging endeavor due to the dynamic nature of its 28 diverse teams, each boasting varying talent and scoring prowess. To increase your odds of success, it is crucial to possess a deep understanding of the sport, employ strategic techniques, and stay informed on the latest trends.

Seasoned bettors relish the competitive landscape of MLS betting, while novices can enjoy easily digestible matches with distinct outcomes and an exhilarating atmosphere. A myriad of betting options cater to different preferences, from forecasting match results to evaluating individual player performances.

This guide aims to provide a solid foundation for sports betting, equipping you with essential knowledge and effective strategies to excel in MLS wagering.

Major League Soccer Overview

Established in 1995, Major League Soccer (MLS) is a professional soccer league that kicked off its inaugural season in 1996 with 10 teams. Fast forward to today, the league has expanded to encompass 28 teams, including St. Louis City SC as the latest addition.

The MLS season typically runs from late February or early March until October, featuring games throughout the week. Each team competes in 34 regular-season matches, vying for the prestigious Supporters’ Shield awarded to the team with the best overall record.

Following the regular season, playoff positions are determined, culminating in the MLS Cup, an annual championship game contested by two teams from different conferences. The victorious team is crowned the MLS champion and secures a coveted spot in the CONCACAF Champions League, a regional tournament for club champions from North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.

A Comprehensive Guide to MLS Betting Markets

Match Result

The match result market is the most common bet in soccer, requiring bettors to predict which team will win or if the match will end in a draw. This type of bet is also referred to as a “1X2” or “three-way moneyline” bet, as it offers three possible outcomes: a win for the home team (1), a draw (X), or a win for the away team (2).

For example, if Inter Miami is hosting the New York Red Bulls and you think Inter Miami will come out on top, you would place a wager on Inter Miami to win. However, you could also bet on a draw or a New York Red Bulls victory. Keep in mind that odds will vary for each outcome, with favorites generally having lower odds and underdogs offering higher potential payouts.

Double Chance

Double chance betting offers a safer alternative to match result betting by allowing bettors to cover two of the three possible outcomes in a single wager. The three options in this market are:

  • Home team win or draw (1X)
  • Away team win or draw (X2)
  • Home team win or away team win (12)

Suppose the Orlando City is playing against the Portland Timbers. A bettor can choose the Union to win or draw (1X), the Timbers to win or draw (X2), or either team to win (12). While double chance bets offer more security, they usually come with lower odds compared to match result bets due to the reduced risk.

MLS Total Goals (Over/Under)

In the total goals market, bettors predict whether the total number of goals scored in a match will be over or under a specific number set by the bookmaker, often referred to as the goal line. The line is usually set at 2.5 or 3.5 goals, but can vary depending on factors such as team form, key players’ availability, and historical matchups.

For example, if the bookmaker sets the total goals line for a match between Austin FC and FC Cincinnati at 2.5, bettors can wager on the total goals being either over 2.5 (i.e., three or more goals) or under 2.5 (i.e., two or fewer goals). Keep in mind that odds can vary for each side of the bet, with the over often favored for higher-scoring matchups and the under for tighter, defensive games.

MLS Props

Props betting offers bettors an opportunity to wager on specific events or occurrences within a match. These bets, also known as proposition bets or side bets, can be based on team or individual player performance, and often provide a more entertaining and engaging betting experience. 

Examples of popular props bets include:

  • First team to score
  • Time of first goal
  • Correct score at half-time and full-time
  • Player to score at any time during the match
  • Total number of corners or yellow cards

Keep in mind that the odds for props bets can vary significantly, with some wagers offering low-risk, low-reward options, while others involve higher risk but potentially higher payouts.

MLS Futures

Futures betting involves predicting the outcome of long-term events or competitions, such as which team will win the MLS Cup, who will be named the league MVP, or which team will finish atop the regular season standings. These bets are typically placed before the start of the season or at key points throughout the campaign and can offer considerable potential payouts due to their long odds and unpredictable nature. Some popular MLS futures bets include:

  • MLS Cup Winner: Predicting the team that will win the MLS Cup at the end of the season.
  • Conference Winner: Forecasting the winner of each conference (Eastern and Western) at the end of the regular season.
  • Supporters’ Shield Winner: Picking the team with the best overall record at the end of the regular season.
  • Top Goalscorer: Identifying the player who will score the most goals during the regular season.

To succeed in futures betting, bettors must conduct thorough research on teams, players, and league dynamics. It’s important to consider factors such as team form, key player acquisitions, coaching changes, and historical performance trends when placing futures bets.

Asian Handicap

Asian handicap betting is another popular betting market in MLS, aiming to level the playing field between stronger and weaker teams by assigning a goal handicap to each team. The handicap can be a whole number, a half number, or a combination of both, depending on the perceived difference in team strength.

For example, if the Colorado Rapids are favored to win against the Houston Dynamo, the bookmaker might assign a -1.5-goal handicap to the Rapids and a +1.5-goal handicap to the Dynamo. In this case, if you bet on the Rapids, they would need to win by two or more goals for your bet to be successful. Conversely, if you bet on the Dynamo, they could lose by one goal or draw or win the match for your bet to be successful.

Asian handicap betting can offer bettors a chance to find value in matches with clear favorites and underdogs, as the odds are typically more even compared to the match result market.

Half-Time/Full-Time Result

The half-time/full-time result market involves predicting the outcome of a match at both half-time and full-time. This type of bet requires bettors to accurately forecast the status of the game at two separate points, making it more challenging than a standard match result bet. 

For example, in a match between the San Jose Earthquakes and the Chicago Fire, bettors can choose from nine possible half-time/full-time result combinations:

  • San Jose/San Jose
  • San Jose/Draw
  • San Jose/Chicago
  • Draw/San Jose
  • Draw/Draw
  • Draw/Chicago
  • Chicago/San Jose
  • Chicago/Draw
  • Chicago/Chicago

The odds for half-time/full-time bets are typically higher than match result bets due to the increased difficulty in predicting the outcome.

Essential MLS Betting Strategies for Success

Dive Deep into Team Analysis

Perform comprehensive research on the teams participating in MLS games to gain valuable insights for informed betting. Familiarize yourself with each team’s tactics, playing style, strengths, weaknesses, and recent form. Review MLS previews, articles, and examine team and player statistics. Pay attention to head-to-head matchups between teams, as historical data may reveal patterns or trends that can influence your predictions.

Master the Different Betting Markets

To make the most of your MLS betting experience, understand the various betting markets available, such as moneyline, point spread, total goals, Asian handicap, props, and futures bets. Each market offers unique opportunities and challenges, catering to different risk appetites and preferences. Familiarity with these markets will allow you to diversify your betting portfolio and identify the most suitable wagers for specific games or situations.

Factor in Injuries, Suspensions, & Team Rotation

Injuries, suspensions, and team rotation decisions can significantly impact a game’s outcome. Remain updated on player availability and potential lineup changes by monitoring official team websites, social media channels, or reading MLS previews and articles. Adjust your predictions based on key absences or tactical alterations that might affect a team’s performance. Keep an eye on fixture congestion, as teams playing multiple games within a short period may prioritize certain matches and rest key players in others.

Identify Value Bets & Exploit Market Inefficiencies

Value bets offer favorable odds and a reasonable chance of winning, presenting opportunities for potential profit. To identify value bets, compare odds at various sportsbooks and analyze the implied probability of each outcome. Use betting calculators or models to estimate the true probability of an event occurring and compare it to the implied probability. If your estimated probability is higher than the implied probability, you may have found a value bet. Exploit any market inefficiencies by capitalizing on discrepancies between bookmakers’ odds and your own assessments.

Implement a Disciplined Bankroll Management Strategy

A disciplined bankroll management strategy is key to long-term success in MLS betting. Set a specific amount of money you’re willing to risk and allocate a percentage of your bankroll to each bet, based on your confidence level. Use a flat or variable betting system to manage your stakes and maintain consistency in your wagering approach. Avoid chasing losses, maintain a level-headed attitude, and never risk more than you can afford to lose.

By incorporating these strategies, you’ll be better equipped to make informed bets and potentially enhance your overall MLS betting success. Remember to approach betting responsibly and treat it as a form of entertainment rather than a guaranteed source of income.

MLS Betting FAQs

  • How do I start betting on MLS games?
  • What are the most popular MLS betting markets?
  • How do I bet on MLS if I’m in Florida?
  • What are some good strategies for betting on MLS games?
  • How do I win at MLS betting?