Does it seem like the MLS season just ended? The MLS Cup was on Dec. 11 and ten weeks of offseason later, MLS and the Philadelphia Union are back. So are MLS odds and lines at Pennsylvania sports betting apps.
The Philadelphia Union are coming off the best two-season stretch in franchise history. In 2020, the Union had the best regular-season record earning them the Supporters’ Shield and their first appearance in the Eastern Conference Final. Last season, the Union returned to the Eastern Conference Final but due to a roster decimated by COVID health protocols, fell to eventual MLS champions NYCFC.
The 2022 MLS season for the Philadelphia Union starts on Feb. 26 at home against Minnesota FC and ends on Oct. 9 against Toronto. The MLS playoffs will crown a champion on Nov. 9, a few days before the World Cup starts on the 21st.
Philadelphia Union 2022 betting preview
On the MLS Cup futures board, the Philadelphia Union have the fifth-highest odds at DraftKings sportsbook in PA. They have the third-best odds to win the Eastern Conference.
Philadelphia Union odds at PA sportsbooks to win MLS Cup
- BetMGM: +1600
- BetRivers: +1400
- DraftKings: +1000
- PointsBet: +1200
Union Odds to win MLS Eastern Conference
- FanDuel: +650
- BetMGM: +700
Philadelhphia Union team preview
The Union had another busy offseason. This time, no young stars went to Europe. However, they did lose a couple of big names up top. Striker Kacper Przybylko went to Chicago Fire while Jamiro Monteiro was sent to San Jose, in exchange for over $1.5 million in general allocation money.
To replace the offense, the Union signed Mikael Uhre from Denmark’s Brondby IF as a designated player. The 27-year-old will be joined by Argentine forward Julian Carranza, a 21-year-old acquired from Inter Miami.
For a team that scored goals last year inconsistently (48 in 34 games, good for 6th in the East), this is a big transition and a wager on foreign talent. The fans are hoping the new players can pick up the slack and then some.
Despite losing Mark McKenzie and Brendan Aaronson to big-name clubs in Europe, the Union finished second in the East in 2021 with a 14-8-12 record. They beat Nashville on the tiebreaker with two more wins on the season (Nashville went 12-4-18, which is fairly crazy to consider they got points in 30 of 34 league games).
The Union bring back much of the roster that won two playoff games for the first time in franchise history, advancing past NY Red Bulls with a Jakob Glesnes howler that was the latest goal in MLS postseason history (120’ +3’), before besting Nashville via shootout in the semifinals. The bizarre COVID-19 breakout that sidelined much of the team for the conference final was their undoing as they dropped a 2-1 game to NYCFC.
Philadelphia Union 2022 storylines to watch
Consistency: While some of the frontline has changed, much of the Union’s line-up appears to be returning for at least the start of the season. Alejandro Bedoya will wear the captain’s armband, leading an experienced midfield. The back four are returning, along with goalie Andre Blake. Other teams in the East have seen changes, most notably defending Supporter’s Shield holders New England lost goalie Matt Turner to Arsenal in the Premier League.
The Union have built their success on developing talent and a team that knows each other. Sergio Santos will likely start up top with Uhre in Jim Curtin’s signature 4-4-2 formation. Other teams like Nashville and NYCFC will bring gelled units to competition as well. For a team with this much cohesion, they should do better than 3-5-9 away from Subaru Park.
Start Stronger: Last season, the Union got some early wins in the CONCACAF Champions League, making it to the semifinals before Club America won both games handily. While they won all four games against Saprissa from Costa Rica and Atlanta United in the first two rounds, they didn’t win any of the first three games of the regular season, including dropping two games at home to Inter Miami and NYCFC.
Curtin would like to see his team close out games better as well, especially down the stretch. While the team only lost once in their final 12 matches, they dropped points on the road five times in that stretch, often blowing leads in the second half. If the team wants to take the next step and truly contend for the MLS Cup, they must finish out games when they lead, especially on the road.
Youth Movement: In the past few years, MLS has become a younger league. Players like Ricardo Pepi and Zak Steffen have gone through the developmental programs, starred on league teams, and been sold to European clubs for impressive sums. Yes, there are still older names who are coming to the league to finish impressive pro careers. Lorenzo Insigne will join Toronto in the spring from Serie A side Napoli. Not everyone starts teenagers, but many will feature young talent off the bench.
Last season, the teenagers – Jack McGlynn, Paxten Aaronsen (Brendan’s younger brother), and Quinn Sullivan – earned playing time. The oldest player on the roster in Bedoya at 34. The continued development of the young talent is a priority for the team’s leadership. Philadelphia Union owner Jay Sugarman doesn’t seem to want to spend money on high-priced names. He’s gotten that so far with the team’s recent success. If they can take that next step without dropping money, they’ll set themselves apart from other MLS teams that have spent heavily to compete.
Odds to win 2022 MLS Cup
2022 MLS top goalscorer odds
Lead image Chris Szagola/AP