Major League Soccer is the pinnacle of American soccer. Over the years, MLS has started gaining popularity in the sports betting market and has gained traction over the European markets. The MLS has become more competitive and appealing with the outcome of it attracting even more talented players, especially in the international markets. No wonder, then, that knowing how to bet on MLS is important for all serious sports bettors.
In this Expert Guide to Betting on Major League Soccer, we will provide an overview of the sport from a wagering perspective.
Learning how to bet on MLS isn't as difficult as some people imagine. In fact, we have done our utmost to make it as simple as possible. How? By reducing it to five simple steps. Of course, becoming a highly skilled MLS bettor will take time and effort, but the betting process itself isn't difficult to understand or follow.
The five steps to successful MLS betting are:
Let's take a closer look at each of these steps in turn...
It's no good learning how to bet on MLS if you have no means to do so. For that reason, the first step to successful soccer betting is to find a suitable sportsbook.
A suitable sportsbook is, first and foremost, one that is legal. All of the sportsbooks that we highlight are legal for the states that regulate them. You should therefore look at what sportsbooks are available in your particular state and use that as a starting point. If online sports betting is permitted in your state then you can also look at those.
The next thing you should look at is how well each sportsbook in your state caters for MLS betting fans. Some sportsbooks are slightly better than others in this respect. However, most will offer all of the betting markets that you will learn about in the rest of this article. As long as that's the case, the sportsbook should be fine for most MLS bettors.
Another thing to consider is the layout and user-friendliness of the sportsbook. Is it easy to navigate and find your way around? Will you be able to place bets quickly, as and when needed? If a sportsbook isn't easy to use, you might be better off looking for a different one.
Last, but not least, shop around for the best incentives. If you have two or more sportsbooks that are equal in terms of legality and the markets they offer, you might as well choose the one that rewards you most generously for joining.
Sportsbooks generally offer a wide range of betting markets for Major League Soccer. That is good for soccer fans, as it means that you have a great deal of flexibility. Take some time to understand what the main MLS betting markets offer and how they work. You'll then be set to choose the market that suits your needs at any time.
Before we begin our overview of the markets themselves, we should first take a moment to explain how to read the lines. If you are an experienced bettor in other sports then you can skip over this part. However, if you are new to sports betting in general, read on.
American odds are usually presented with a minus (-) figure or a plus (+) figure in front of them.
When a (-) figure precedes the odds, it means that you need to bet that figure in dollars to win $100 profit. This is the team or player that the sportsbook views as the favourite to win.
When a (+) figure precedes the odds, it means that you need to bet $100 to win the stated figure in dollars. This is the team or player that the sportsbook views as the underdog.
If one team is offered at -150 to win, betting $150 would give you $250 back if they win. That would give you a profit of $100.
Similarly, if the other team is offered at +180 to win, betting $100 would give you $280 back if they win. That would give you a profit of $180.
With that understanding in mind, let us now look at the betting markets themselves.
Betting on the MLS moneylines requires you to predict the overall outcome of the match. Because there are three possible outcomes - the Home win, the Draw/Tie and the Away win - there will be three figures quoted.
Consider the following example, where Columbus Crew (the Home team) is playing against the Seattle Sounders (the Away team):
Seattle Sounders FC
Betting $100 on the Home win would bring you a profit of $200 if your bet succeeds. Betting $100 on the Draw/Tie or the Away win would bring you a profit of $215 or $143, respectively
Spread betting markets will give a theoretical advantage or disadvantage to each team. If they are given an advantage (indicated by a + sign) then that figure will be added to their goal total before your bet is settled. If they are given a disadvantage (indicated by a - sign) then that figure will be deducted from their goal total before your bet is settled.
|Seattle Sounders FC||+1.0||+325|
If you bet $100 on Columbus Crew at -1.0 and they were to win the match 2-1, the score for your bet would be 1-1, and your bet would lose. However, if they were to win by 3-1, the score for your bet would be 2-1, and your bet would win, giving you $480 profit.
If you bet $100 on Seattle Sounders at +1.0 and they were to lose the match 2-1, the score for your bet would be 2-2, and your bet would lose. However, if they were to draw the match 1-1, the score for your bet would be 1-2, and your bet would win, giving you $325 profit.
The advantage of MLS spreads is that it can give you better odds when betting on the favourite, and it can also make it more appealing to bet on the underdog team.
The MLS Totals market doesn't require you to predict the outcome of the match in terms of the result, but only how many goals will be scored. The sportsbook will set a Total and you would bet that the actual total number of goals will be Over or Under that figure.
|Over 0.5||-2500||Under 0.5||+900|
|Over 1.5||-435||Under 1.5||+285|
|Over 2.5||-125||Under 2.5||-107|
|Over 3.5||+205||Under 3.5||-295|
If you predict that the match will end in a score of 2-1, you could bet Under 3.5 or Over 0.5, Over 1.5 or Over 2.5, depending on how much of a risk you want to take. Betting Over 0.5 would require a bet of $2,500 to make a $100 profit, but your bet would win with just one goal in the match. Betting Over 2.5 would only need a bet of $125 to make a $100 profit, but there would need to be three or more goals in the match for your bet to win.
This market requires you to predict the result at both Half Time and Full Time, and you need to be right about both for your bet to succeed. There are nine possible outcomes to choose from:
The advantage of betting in this market is that the odds will be more generous. The disadvantage is that it can be much harder to land a winning bet. If you believe that one team is head and shoulders above their opponents then a bet on that team to be winning at both Half Time and Full Time might be profitable.
If you think you know the style of play for both teams playing, you might want to bet on the over/under on corners in a match. An attacking team versus a defensive team could result in a lot of corners.
If you think that you can predict what the exact score of the match will be, you could bet on that score in the Correct Scores market. The sportsbook will quote different odds for all of the likely scores, so you simply need to bet on your chosen score and see if you're right!
Those of your who like to be whilst the game is in progress can bet on which team will score the next goal. You can also bet on there being no next goal at all. This is obviously a live betting market, so the odds available will fluctuate as the match unfolds.
There are as many ways of predicting the outcome of a Major League Soccer game as there are bettors. Of course, not all ways are equally reliable, so you should be cautious when trying to pick winning teams, especially in the early days.
One of the best ways to predict the outcome of a soccer match is by calculating the average number of goals scored by each team in the current season and then using that as a predicted scoreline.
To calculate a goal average, take the number of goals scored in the current season and divide by the number of games played in the current season.
For example, if Team A has scored 23 goals from 10 games, its average is 23 divided by 10 = 2.3 goals per match.
If Team B has scored 17 goals from 10 games, its average is 17 divided by 10 = 1.7 goals per match.
According to this method, the predicted scoreline would be 2.3 to 1.7, which you may prefer to round to a 2-1 home win or a 2-2 draw.
Because this approach uses current season data, you should be very careful with any predictions it makes in the early part of the season. And of course, remember that this is just a prediction, and not a guarantee. There are other things to consider before placing a bet, and we will look at those in the next section.
The statistical record of soccer teams can be very useful in making predictions, as previously explained. However, there are other important factors to take a look at before you make a wager.
First, there is the factor of home advantage. Some soccer teams play better in front of their home crowd then they do when playing away. Check the results of previous matches to see if this is the case with the teams you are considering.
Next, look at the predicted weather conditions and how they compare with what each team is used to. A team that is used to playing in the heat might not play as well in cooler conditions, and vice versa.
Fitness is a third and essential factor to consider. If a key player - such as a main goal scorer - will be missing due to injury, that could render any statistical prediction worthless
Finally, look at what is at stake for each team. If a match isn't as important to a team as previous ones have been, they may not play as aggressively. Look to bet on teams that have proven winning ability and need to win the coming match as much as any other.
The fifth step to successful MLS betting is simply to bet wisely. This means taking your time and starting small. Rome wasn't built in a day, and you won't become a pro MLS bettor just because you've read this guide, so go easy.
Try sticking to modest stakes at the beginning and keep strict records of your bets. Only increase your stakes when you start winning consistently. And if you don't win consistently, review your approach. Learn more about the game, the teams and the players. Knowledge is power, so the more you know, the more accurate your predictions will be.
Also remember that not all soccer matches are equally viable for betting purposes. It is better to focus on a handful of partiucularly good opportunities than to try and pick the winner of every match being played. If a prediction is too vague to call, or the odds are too meagre to worry about, leave that match alone and wait for a better one to come along.
Most sportsbooks will offer betting on Major League Soccer, so if you live in a state where sports betting is legal, check out big names such as DraftKings or FanDuel.
You can practice by paper trading. This is where you assess the form, make your predictions and check out the odds, but instead of actually betting you simply write down the bet you would have made.
By doing this over days or weeks, you will be able to see how your bets would have fared. You can also wait until your paper trading is successful before betting for real.
The principles of betting on MLS also apply when betting on European and other soccer matches. If you bet with an American sportsbook the odds will be in the usual format.
If you intend to bet on non-MLS games, be sure to do your homework. Get to know the teams and players involved, just as you would for domestic soccer games.