Who Will Win the 2019 MLS Cup? Predictions and Odds
2019 MLS Cup Prediction: NYCFC defeats LAFC 2-1.
What is the MLS Cup?
The Audi 2019 MLS Cup is the trophy that the winner of the Major League Soccer playoff bracket takes home as the champion.
Last year, Atlanta United FC took home the MLS Cup after winning 2-0 over Portland. Forward Josef Martinez, one of the biggest stars in the MLS, scored the first goal and won the MLS Cup MVP for his performance.
Over 73,000 fans witnessed the championship game at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The biggest crowd ever to see an MLS Cup final match.
Which Team Won the Most MLS Cups?
The L.A. Galaxy has five MLS Cup trophies in nine finals appearances. The Galaxy’s last title came in 2014, their third title in a four-year period. The Galaxy have not returned to the MLS Cup finals since that last championship.
In second place is D.C. United, although their four championships came early in the league’s existence. D.C. last won a title in 2004, but they have won three titles in four years, starting in 1996 and ending in 1999.
The New England Revolution has the worst record in the MLS Cup with no wins in any of their five MLS Cup appearances. The Revolution went to the finals three straight years from 2005 through 2007 without a victory.
The MLS has not had a repeat champion since the Galaxy’s back-to-back wins in 2011 and 2012.
The last four teams to win the MLS crown were all winning the title for the first time in their franchise history. Atlanta United FC in 2018, Toronto FC in 2017, Seattle Sounders FC in 2016 and the Portland Timbers in 2015 were the last four winners of the MLS Cup.
How Do the MLS Cup Playoffs Work?
The format of the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs underwent a change this season, giving the top team in the league an advantage by giving them a bye and forcing the other teams into an extra match in the one-game knockout playoff format.
To accommodate the new format, the MLS added two playoff teams, one in each conference for 14 total teams out of the league’s 24 franchises.
This season, LAFC in the Western Conference and NYCFC in the Eastern Conference both clinched a bye in the first round of the MLS Playoffs by grabbing the best regular-season record in their respective conferences.
In the past, the MLS relied on the tried and true playoff format of the two-legger. These home and home series, allowed both teams to get one game on their home pitch with the aggregate score of the two matches deciding the winner.
This year, in an effort to drum up a little excitement for the playoffs, the powers-that-be at the MLS is making all playoff rounds a one-match winner take all knockout round that certainly tips the hand of fortune onto the home team.
According to the official MLS website, “Since 2011, when MLS first introduced knockout matches to kick off the postseason, the home team has advanced in 16 of the 24 games, a 66.67 percent — or two-thirds — the rate of success for the higher-seeded hosts.”
Since the league put an emphasis on performing in the regular season, teams at the top will be handed a huge benefit in the race to the MLS Cup with the one-match home-field advantage.
Also, there will be no reseeding with each round like in years past. This year, if the seven seed defeats the two seed in the opening round they will play the winner of the #3/#6 seeded game. That team will not be forced to play the top team as they did in previous playoff tournaments.
Also, if the games are tied after regulation, then the two teams will play a 30 minute extra time period and if they still have not broken the tie, then penalty kicks will determine a winner.
MLS Cup 2019 Schedule
The first round of the 2019 MLS Cup playoffs will be held over the weekend of October 19-20. Over those two days, six matches will be held with three coming in each conference.
After winners are determined, the Conference Semifinals will take place just a couple of days later on either Wednesday, October 23rd or Thursday, October 24th. As previously stated, these games will be one match, winner takes all clashes.
Teams that advance to the conference championships will play roughly one week later as both conference finals will be held on Tuesday, October 29th or Wednesday, October 30th.
Conference winners will meet in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup to be held on Sunday, November 10th. The winner of the MLS Cup will qualify for the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League and host the 2020 Campeones Cup.
The MLS regular season ended on the 6th of October but had to wait to start their playoffs due to a mandatory international break from October 7th through October 15th.
Who is the Favorite to Win the Eastern Conference?
#1 Seed: NYCFC
NYCFC took the top spot in the Eastern Conference with a franchise-record 64 points. They scored 63 goals and allowed just 42 while posting 18 wins with just six losses on the year.
When you look deeper at NYCFC’s record at home, you can see why they are the heavy odds on favorite to take the East. The club won 11 matches, tied five and lost just one game at home this season.
NYCFC will get the winner of Toronto versus D.C. United match but will be forced to play the conference semifinal match at Citi Field in New York and not their home pitch of Yankee Stadium due to the Yankees playing the Houston Astros in the baseball playoffs.
#2 Seed: Atlanta United FC
Atlanta posted 58 points this season for second place in the Eastern Conference and third overall in the MLS. At home this year, Atlanta was 12-2-3 and posted an overall goal differential of plus-15.
The Georgia-based club will have home-field throughout the playoffs until they reach the conference final where NYCFC would play on their home pitch. Look for Atlanta to be tough to hold down offensively, especially on their fast home pitch surface.
#3 Seed: Philadelphia Union
Philadelphia has yet to win an MLS Cup in franchise history and this year might be the year as the club posted 55 points and a goal-differential of plus-8.
Their first-round matchup is against the New York Red Bulls, who they defeated at home in early June, 3-2. The Red Bulls did beat Philly on their own pitch in late September, causing the Union to lose their shot at claiming the top seed in the East.
#4 Seed: Toronto F.C.
Toronto grabbed the fourth place spot in the East after winning on Decision Day over Columbus. Scoring the fourth-most goals in the East this season, Toronto will have their work cut out for them in their opening round against a stingy D.C. United defense.
Even though Toronto tied D.C. United in both 2019 matchups, the club snuck home field for the knockout game after scoring 57 goals on the year. At home, Toronto went 9-4-4 and posted a plus-5 goal differential.
#5 Seed: D.C. United
How do you post five straight clean sheets to end the season and still not host a first-round playoff game? Well, D.C. United somehow managed that after failing to score in their final two games, claiming draws in both contests and a fifth-place finish in the East.
D.C. tied both of their matches against Toronto this season. On the road this year, the club won five matches and grabbed points in 11 of 17 road contests.
#6 Seed: New York Red Bulls
New York had their chances to claim home-field for the first round but failed to win down the stretch to post a sixth-place finish in the East. The club posted a plus-2 goal differential while scoring 53 goals on the season.
Even though the Red Bulls defeated their first-round opponent, Philadelphia, at home, New York will travel south to take on the Union on their home pitch. On the road this season, the Red Bulls won just five matches in 17 total contests.
#7 Seed: New England Revolution
New England will travel to Georgia for their opening round contest, a rematch for the two teams that had a Decision Day clash this season that Atlanta United FC won 3-1. The Revolution clinched their playoff spot with a late win over top-seeded NYCFC on the road.
New England went 3-6-8 on the road this year and posted a minus-7 goal differential in the regular season, two statistical data points that don’t speak well for their chances against a talented Atlanta team.
Who is the Favorite to Win the Western Conference?
#1 Seed: LAFC
LAFC set an MLS-record by posting 72 points in 2019, besting the second-place Seattle club by a whopping 16 points in the race for the best team in the Western Conference. Led by forward Carlos Vela’s record-setting season of 34 goals, LAFC scored 85 goals and only surrendered 37 for a plus-48 goal differential.
The club is set up for an intriguing second-round matchup as they will take on the winner of the Minnesota and L.A. Galaxy opening-round game. The Galaxy defeated LAFC 3-2 on their home pitch back in July.
#2 Seed: Seattle Sounders FC
Seattle posted 56 points on the year, winning 16 games and tying eight in 2019. At home, the Sounders posted an impressive record of 11-2-4, but only had an overall goal differential of plus-3.
Seattle is given a 66% chance by FiveThirtyEight to win their opening-round game over 7th place F.C. Dallas. The Texas club defeated Seattle in Dallas 2-1 in June and forced an 0-0 draw in mid-September.
#3 Seed: Real Salt Lake
Real Salt Lake posted a terrific season in 2019, winning 16 matches, tied for second-best in the Western Conference. The club scored just 46 goals on the season, ranking 11th in the conference.
The Salt Lake club will face Portland in the first round and although they lost both matches to the Timbers this season, the team won 12 of their 17 matches in Utah. Although they didn’t score a lot of goals this year, they didn’t allow many either, surrendering just 41, second-best in the West.
#4 Seed: Minnesota United
For Tampa Bay to cause a stir and win the American League, they’ll need to continue to show the same game plan they displayed in the Wild Card Game with terrific pitching and power hitting.
Minnesota played their first-round opponent, the L.A. Galaxy, twice this season. They lost the match in Los Angeles in March, 3-2 and tied the Galaxy at home in April. The winner of the match faces top-seeded LAFC on the road.
#5 Seed: L.A. Galaxy
The Galaxy enter the knockout round with Minnesota, losers of their last two regular-season games, forcing them to go on the road to open the MLS Cup tournament. On the year, the Galaxy scored 58 goals, good for a second-place tie in the West for most goals with Colorado.
Los Angeles could become dangerous in these playoffs if they can sneak by Minnesota, but the Galaxy posted a 5-10-2 record on the road this year. If they make it to the second round, they’ll face their rival, LAFC, who they’ve defeated already once in 2019.
#6 Seed: Portland Timbers
Portland finished in 6th place in the Western Conference this year, winning 14 matches and tying seven. They’ll hit the road for their first-round match where they showed promise in 2019, winning six games, drawing three while losing eight.
If you are looking for a first-round upset then the match between Portland and the #3 seeded Real Salt Lake should provide fireworks as the Timbers won both matches between the two clubs this year by the combined scored of 3-1.
#7 Seed: F.C. Dallas
F.C. Dallas needed a Decision Day win over Sporting KC to make the playoffs and the club responded by defeating the Kansas City club 6-0. Dallas finished with 48 points, posting 13 wins and nine draws on the year.
Dallas will face Seattle in the first round and although they took points from both matches this year against the west coast club, the team won just three games on the road this season.
Who Will Win the 2019 MLS Cup?
This new playoff format makes having home-field advantage incredibly important and the two conference regular-season champs have been so dominant on their home pitch, it is hard to see any other team making a run for the crown in each conference.
NYCFC has been terrific down the stretch while LAFC showed a few cracks in their armor. LAFC will be favored in this matchup, but NYCFC’s defense will hold LAFC forward Carlos Vela down and sneak out a 2-1 MLS Cup win.
2019 MLS Cup Prediction: NYCFC defeats LAFC 2-1.
2019 MLS Cup – Odds
|Team||888Sport NJ||DraftKings||bet365 NJ|
|Los Angeles FC||+100||+100||+150|
|Atlanta United FC||+900||+900||+1000|
|NY Red Bulls||+1800||+1800||+2000|
|Real Salt Lake||+2800||+2800||+2500|