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MLS Outright Winner: Who's the Top Pick?

Written by: Nikhil Kalro
Updated July 19, 2023
11 min read
  • Eastern Conference leaders FC Cincinnati are the bookmakers’ favorites. Defending champions Los Angeles FC are just behind them in the race. 
  • Last season’s runners-up Philadelphia Union are also in the running for the trophy according to the bookmakers.  
  • Inter Miami have signed Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, and Jordi Alba. Despite sitting in last place on the Eastern Conference table, they’ve undoubtedly got the best squad in the league now.  

MLS Cup Outright Odds

Outright Odds for MLS Cup from bet365.



FC Cincinnati



Los Angeles FC



Philadelphia Union



New England Revolution



St. Louis City



Seattle Sounders FC



Nashville SC



Atlanta United



Orlando City SC



Austin FC



Columbus Crew



Real Salt Lake



MLS Cup Outright Pick

MLS Outright Winner

MLS Cup 2023 Predictions

It seems like the bookmakers haven’t taken Inter Miami’s new signings into account when formulating their outright odds because they’re currently offering incredible value (+5000). Despite sitting in last place on the odds table, we simply can’t ignore a team that has added Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, and Jordi Alba to their side. 

The bookmakers currently have FC Cincinnati as the favorites to win the tournament, with reigning champions LAFC next in line, and runners-up Philadelphia Union after that. Newcomers St Louis City SC, who are sitting on top of the Western Conference, are fourth in line. 

In a regular MLS season, these teams would have dominated the discussion, but this is no ordinary MLS season. Inter Miami have added a level of quality to the side that the MLS hasn’t seen before. Inter Miami’s new signings haven’t taken to the field yet, but once they do, it’ll be clear that they’re the team to beat. 

Every other narrative: Seattle Sounders’ resurgence, St Louis City’s emergence, FC Cincinnati’s rise, and LAFC’s hold on the league pales in comparison to Inter Miami’s signings. They are the to beat from this point onwards, and they’ve got incredible odds at the moment, so we’d urge you to pick them without hesitation. 

Favorites for the MLS Cup 2023 

FC Cincinnati 

FC Cincinnati have far and away been the best team in the league this season. They’ve accumulated 51 points in the league so far. They’re eight points ahead of second-placed New England Revolution. 

They’ve only lost two of their 23 games this season, showing how consistent they’ve been all season. For comparison’s sake, Western conference leaders St Louis City SC have lost eight of their 23 matches. FC Cincinnati played their first MLS match in 2019; their progress is an example for all other teams. 

Luciano Acosta has arguably been the best player in the league so far, with 12 goals and six assists, but another Argentine has taken over all the headlines in recent weeks. FC Cincinnati’s improvements might count for nothing this season because Inter Miami have added too many superstars into their squad in the last couple of weeks, with Lionel Messi leading the pack. FC Cincinnati will most likely be Inter Miami’s biggest challengers in the playoffs, but we think they’ll eventually fall short. 


LAFC are just behind FC Cincinnati on the odds table, but they haven’t played like a team that deserves to be up there since their loss in the CONCACAF Champions League final earlier in the year. 

It seems like the team has run out of gas after that loss. They were a machine last season, which ultimately led to their first MLS triumph. They started this season brightly as well, but they’ve lost their sharpness in recent weeks. They’ve lost six matches and drawn seven, with 11 games still to go. This is not the win-loss record you see in teams that are contending for a championship. 

The team still has some top players like Carlos Vela, Denis Bouanga, and Giorgio Chiellini in the side, but they’ve not been as cohesive as last season, and don’t have the stardust of Gareth Bale who might be required to face Messi and co. They’re more than capable of making a deep run but we don’t think they’ll defend their title. 

Value Pick for the MLS Cup 2023 

Inter Miami Have Now Added Jordi Alba

If adding Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets wasn’t enough to convince doubters that this is Inter Miami’s title to lose, then adding another Barcelona has certainly got to do the trick. Inter Miami have now added Jordi Alba to their list of stars. 

Inter Miami are currently sitting in last place on the Eastern Conference table, but they are not that far off a playoff spot. There are enough games left for them to qualify for the playoffs, and it’s hard to see them drop too many points if Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, and Jordi Alba are on the side. 

To put things in perspective, all three of them are coming off the back of league-winning campaigns in Europe. Messi won the World Cup with Argentina last December and was awarded the player of the tournament. He’s certainly in the running for the Ballon d’Or this year. He scored 38 goals and provided 25 assists last season in all competitions while playing in a top-five European League.

Sergio Busquets is still considered one of the best defensive midfielders in the world. He’s a player who has never relied much on pace or athleticism; he’s the totem around which the rest of the team revolves, and there’s no doubt that he’ll orchestrate everything for Inter Miami going forward. 

Finally, there’s Alba. Alba had to make way for young Alejandro Balde last season, but he’s a player who’s had a remarkable on-field relationship with Messi throughout his time at Barcelona. The two had a telepathic connection, and we’re likely to see more of this for Inter Miami. 

All of this is to say that Inter Miami are stacked with far too many good players to be ignored. Even the LAFC of last season, with Gareth Bale, would’ve struggled to match up with Inter Miami in terms of quality. 

Of course, many fans will argue that these assumptions about Inter Miami are premature, but Lionel Messi has often been the exception to the rule throughout his career, and we doubt it’s going to be any different for the MLS. He’s undoubtedly the greatest player of his generation, and arguably the greatest of all time, and he’s far from done. 

He could still be playing for a Champions League-contending side and be the best player on that team. He’s also as relaxed as he has ever been, which should help him with his football. Winning the MLS for Inter Miami is a challenge, but he’s overcome far greater challenges in his football career. 

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Nikhil Kalro

681 Articles

With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]

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