Following a runner-up finish in the 2016 MLS playoffs, Toronto FC went a giant step further a year ago by winning the MLS Cup after going a league-best 20-5-9.
This season, the club is the plus-350 favorite (bet $100 to win $350) at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark to win the 2018 MLS Cup for the second time in as many years.
Toronto FC qualified for the MLS playoffs for the first time in 2015 behind Italian Sebastian Giovinco's 22 goals.
While the 31-year-old's production has gone down each of the past two seasons (17 goals in 2016 and 16 in 2017) after winning the MLS Golden Boot, Newcomer of the Year and MVP awards, the team has become more balanced offensively. That's partially due to the emergence of Jozy Altidore as a solid second scoring threat, making Toronto a stronger contender to win the league title.
Atlanta United and the Seattle Sounders are tied behind Toronto FC as the co-second choices at plus-800, followed by the Portland Timbers (plus-900) and New York City FC (plus-1000).
The Sounders fell to Toronto FC 2-0 in the 2017 MLS Cup, with Altidore winning MVP honors. Seattle tied for the most points (53) in the Western Conference during the regular season with the Portland Timbers.
Portland earned the No. 1 seed and was upset by the Houston Dynamo 2-1 in the conference semifinals.
Toronto FC totaled an MLS-best 69 points and went on to surrender just two goals in the entire postseason.
Atlanta United were eliminated in the knockout round of last year's playoffs and tied the Chicago Fire (plus-2500 to win the 2018 MLS Cup) for the third-most points (55) in the Eastern Conference behind Toronto FC and New York City FC (57), which lost in the conference semifinals to the Columbus Crew (also listed at plus-2500).
The Crew will visit Toronto FC on Saturday in a rematch of the 2017 Eastern Conference Championship to kick off the 2018 regular season.
Columbus leads the all-time series 13-8-10 but has gone 4-4-6 at Toronto, getting blanked 5-0 in the last meeting there. Atlanta United will also get tested right away on the road Saturday when they take on the Houston Dynamo in another intriguing season-opening match.
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