MLS Handicapping – Betting Preview
Major League Soccer will begin its 15th season on time after the league and its players' union agreed to a new five-year Collective Bargaining Agreement on Saturday.
It all starts tonight when the Seattle Sounders take on the expansion team Philadelphia Union at 9:30 EST.
Here are my 2010 team previews, odds, and picks to make all your MLS soccer wagers winners.
Real Salt Lake
The reigning champions barely made the playoffs last season, but once they were in there, no one could stop them—not even Donovan and Beckham. Head coach Jason Kreis has put together some solid veterans and youngsters to finally have a strong team in place.
With players like defensive midfielder Kyle Beckerman, the lighting fast Findley, and goalkeeper Rimando, I actually like Real Salt Lake to have a very good year, with the odds at 10:1.
Head coach Bruce Arena will have to get the rest of his side into brilliant form if they want to make another run at the MLS Cup this season. With no Beckham all season and Landon Donovan missing a lot of time because of the World Cup, it could be really tough for LA to get back to the Final.
They do have several good players beyond Donovan and Beckham, including a keeper in Donovan Ricketts, Berhalter, Mathis and up-and-comers Edson Buddle and Omar Gonzalez.
They will also need their defense to remain stingy like they did last season. They would be my favorites but without Becks and LD, I’m putting their odds of winning the Cup at 13:1.
Fans had plenty to cheer for last season and thanked the team, helping the Sounders break the MLS attendance record for a single season, selling out every home game in 2009.The franchise became a real contender for the MLS Cup in the club’s debut season under the guidance of one of the best coaches in the league, head coach Sigi Schmid.
The Sounders are led by Swedish star Freddie Ljungberg, as well as the league’s best young talents, Steve Zakuani.
With Kasey Keller between the pipes I put their chances at 14:1.
The Reds look poised and ready to make a push into the postseason with new head coach Predrag “Preki” Radosavljević at the helm. It all begins and ends for Toronto with leader Dwayne De Rosario.
He played well last season, and now that he has had a little time to work with these guys, I expect he does well in 2010. Others players to note are Chad Barrett, and Marvell Wynne.
I like Toronto’s chances and put them at 6:1.
San Jose Earthquakes
San Jose had a miserable 2009 season and hasn’t done much in the offseason to improve their chances of being a real threat this year. However, I do predict them to finish in the top 10.
They have a few players that can play like Alvarez and Convey and I think they could see success with Cornell Glen and Eduardo up top. The sore spot is their awful defense. The Quakes gave up 50 goals last season, the most in MLS.
I put the odds of them hoisting hardware at 40:1.
New York Red Bulls
After reaching the MLS Cup final in 2008 the Red Bulls spiraled downward with an awful showing last season. With a new stadium and a new attitude, will there be new hope for New York soccer fans? Probably not, this club is in desperate need of rebuilding.
The team is still very shallow and completely over reliant on a few selfish star players including Juan Pablo Angel. Players to watch are Seth Stammler and Jamaican-born Dane Richards. Still, I think they don’t have any real chance of winning the Cup in 2010.
I’ll put their odds at 50:1.
Philadelphia Union: The Side
The Union will make their MLS debut this season and like all expansion clubs, will hope to hang tough with the league’s more seasoned sides. They have blended a good mix of experienced players and youngsters, putting together some basic building blocks. Players that can help ease the freshman woes will be keeper Chris Seitz, Sebastien Le Toux, and Jordan Harvey.
The team lacks a bona fide striker up top; for that reason I don’t think they will be raising any hardware this season.
I will put their odds at 50:1.
New England Revolution
Head coach Stevie Nicol continues to win games with young, raw players after being hit with a roster of injury-plagued players. Well, those players like Darrius Barnes and Sainey Nyassi are getting older and better.
Throw in Sharlie Joseph, one of the league’s best defensive midfielders and I will put their chances of winning the MLS Cup, at 20:1.
Kansas City Wizards
KC is a team that looks good on paper, but it’s not translating to the pitch. They will be without goalkeeper Kevin Hartman and I think that will hurt their numbers. Fan favorite Jimmy Conrad is still there, but he is past his prime and has been prone to both injuries and errors.
Lopez, Wolff and Kamara are strong strikers and will need to score early and often if KC is to stay at the top of the table. All signs point towards 2010 being another mediocre season.
I will put their odds at 50:1.
The Dynamo finished strong in 2009 despite losing offensive leader Dwayne De Rosario. Now they will have to deal with the loss two U.S. stars to overseas teams: Ricky Clark and Stu Holden.
I don’t think they have too much to worry about since they still have assembled a great core of players and have boasted the stingiest defense in the league over the last four years, and maybe in the history of the league.
Behind head coach Dominic Kinnear, I think the Dynamo have a 12:1 chance of hoisting the MLS Cup.
New head coach Curt Onalfo doesn’t have any more talent in DC than he had in KC and will have to make due with a very young roster with the exception of veterans Jaime Moreno and Bryan Namoff.
Onalfo has a team with limited chemistry, and will need to start adding some nice depth if he wants to win it all. I put the odds of them winning the Cup at 16:1.
Dallas made a valiant run at the playoffs last year on the efforts of forward Jeff Cunningham but came up short. Head coach Schellas Hyndman is still at the helm and his hopes all hinge on the play of Cunningham.
Captain Dario Sala will return in net, and he certainly has a ton of experience. This team also has some exciting young stars, but I don’t think they have the depth to hoist any hardware in 2010.
I will put their odds of winning at 25:1.
The Crew is one of the most winning teams in MLS history, and definitely the most winning over the last two years. They have tremendous, leadership with players like Guillermo Barros Schelotto— probably still the league’s premier player despite his age.
On defense, Chad Marshall and Frankie Hejduk are two of the league’s shinning stars, along with some of the best young talent in the league with Robbie Rogers and Emmanuel Ekpo.
They are due, so I put the odds of them winning at 13:1.
The Rapids have made it to one MLS Cup Final and one U.S. Open Cup Final, but lost both. Will 2010 be their year? If so it will all begin with Pablo Mastroeni.
He’s still one of the best in the league when it comes to crushing opponent’s hopes of scoring. Along with Drew Moor and Nick LaBrocca on defense and Cummings & Casey on top, I will put their odds in 2010 at 50:1.
The Goats had a decent 2009, but they lost Preki, so 2010 isn’t exactly looking like the year they will finally have a break through; it won’t be for lack of talent. Chivas have several players that could keep them in the hunt for a Cup win. First is playmaker Sacha Kljestan along with Zach Thornton in goal.
They have a ton of players with experience including Jazic and Razov Antes, Claudio Suarez, and Sasha Victorine. Their defense suffered a lot of injuries last year, but that didn’t seem to hurt them as much as not being able to find the back of the oppositions net.
I just don’t think things will get any easier for them. I put their odds at 32:1.
Chicago Fire: The Side
The Fire has a great squad this season, maybe the best in the league. They will be led by veteran Brian McBride, along with Marco Pappa, Justin Mapp, and Logan Pause—all who play some excellent football. Keeper Jon Busch was very good between the pipes in 2009 and will be back again in 2010.
They boast a very stingy defense and several rising stars such as Patrick Nyarko. This is a team that has the all the pieces to bring home a championship.
I will put the odds at 4:1.
There you have it, this year’s MLS rundown.
Watch for more of my soccer betting odds, predictions and tips here at Capperpicks.com.