Major League Soccer is going for it.
The league’s 2021 season starts with a doubleheader Friday. And this year provides further proof that the sport keeps moving aggressively toward mainstream America.
A record 37 games will be shown in the United States on ABC, FOX, Univision and UniMás in national network broadcasts, with even more to be added in the months ahead. In addition, ESPN+ will stream all regional broadcasts to out-of-market areas nationwide.
Three new soccer stadiums are also opening this year in Cincinnati, Columbus, and Austin, Texas, which will be hosting the inaugural season of Austin FC.
And of course, Pennsylvania’s only MLS team, the Philadelphia Union, will continue to make inroads as well, with a roster that has them expected to contend for an Eastern Conference title.
Philadelphia Union heavy underdog in home opener Sunday
DraftKings Sportsbook currently has the Union tied for third in their MLS conference, with odds of +500 to win the East. And if you’re looking for a primer on Philadelphia’s squad this season, this MLS preview might prove useful.
The Union open the season at home on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. against Columbus, the defending MLS Champion and Eastern Conference favorite. The Crew is +200 to win the East, followed by Toronto FC (+400) and Orlando FC, who are tied with Philadelphia at +500.
In Sunday’s game Columbus is -120 on the moneyline, while Philadelphia is +300. A tie is +265.
DraftKings also has a lot of prop bets loaded up for the Union’s opener with wagers available on the first/last goal scorer, along with anytime scorers as well.
Fans can also bet on the correct score, double chance, both teams to score, or the first half winner.
Union fourth highest championship handle in BetMGM MLS futures
At BetMGM Sportsbook, LAFC are the favorites to win the MLS Championship, but Colorado bettors are showing support for their hometown team. According to Seamus Magee, Sports Trader at BetMGM:
“The MLS season kicks off this week and LAFC +600 are the betting favorites to win the championship. Few bettors are interested in the favorites but we have seen strong support, especially from bettors in Colorado, on the Colorado Rapids. The Rapids have the highest ticket and handle percentage and are BetMGM’s biggest liability.”
At +1200, the Union are tied for the fifth-best odds to win the MLS Championship.
MLS Championship favorites at BetMGM:
- Los Angeles FC: +500
- Seattle Sounders: +800
- Columbus Crew: +900
- New York City FC: +1000
- Philadelphia Union/Toronto FC: +1200
Highest MLS Championship Ticket % at BetMGM:
- Colorado Rapids (+4000): 12.5%
- DC United (+10000): 12.5%
- Atlanta United (+2000): 11.5%
- Nashville SC (+5000): 9.4%
- Portland Timbers (+2000)/FC Cincinnati (+5000): 7.3%
Highest MLS Championship Handle % at BetMGM:
- Colorado Rapids: 14.9%
- Atlanta United: 14.3%
- DC United: 10.3%
- Philadelphia Union: 9.5%
- New England Revolution (+2500): 9.1%
The Philadelphia Union are tied for seventh for ticket % with the New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls, and the Seattle Sounders at 5.2%.
The MLS season opens Friday with a full menu of wagers
Similar betting options are available on the weekend’s other games as well. In total, there are eight games Saturday and three more on Sunday, giving soccer fans a healthy dose of action to start the season.
The competition will continue all year, with each of the league’s 27 franchises playing 34 regular season matches, split evenly between home and away games. Major League Soccer provides a full season schedule overview here.
Highlights from the MLS schedule include Heinken’s Rivalry Week, a 10-day stretch pairing regional and other rivals from August 20-29. And the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, which are set to begin on November 19. The season concludes with the MLS Cup championship match on December 11.
The best PA sportsbooks will have soccer betting options posted throughout it all, which should keep soccer fans and sports bettors alike entertained. And as mentioned earlier, there will be a greater television presence than ever before, letting all involved follow every minute of MLS action.
It all starts on Friday, when San Jose (+280) and Houston (-114) meet at 8 p.m. on ESPN+. Seattle (-120) and Minnesota (+290) face off a little later at 9:30 p.m. Then, there are 11 more games to fill up the weekend.
Soccer season has arrived and the action is going into overdrive.
Because the MLS is going for it.
Lead image credit: AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack