MLS Betting Guide 2023: How and Where to Bet on Soccer?

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MLS Betting Guide 2023: How and Where to Bet on Soccer?

Author: American Gambler Staff | Last Updated: June 21, 2023

Major League Soccer (MLS) is the top professional soccer league in the United States and Canada – and a market that American sports bettors have been able to enjoy placing wagers on for years.

Whether you’re new to sports betting or have experience betting on other popular American leagues, the MLS can offer a new, entertaining frontier for your betting experience.

Here, we’ll cover the basics of MLS betting – including popular bet types and things to consider when placing MLS bets.

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Overview of the MLS season

The 2023 MLS season is already in full swing, with the earliest regular season games having been played on February 25. Each team plays 34 games per regular season, running from the last week in February to the first week in October. T

The MLS comprises 29 teams divided into two conferences: Eastern and Western. The top nine teams from each conference at the end of the season qualify for the playoffs.

Mls betting guide 2023: how and where to bet on soccer?

As the season currently stands, FC Cincinnati sits atop the Eastern Conference, comfortably ahead of the league’s second-best team in Nashville SC. The standings beyond those two teams are highly competitive, with no other team yet emerging as a serious threat.

In the Western Conference – away from Cincinnati and Nashville – St. Louis City SC sits atop the standings. However, their position on top is tenuous, with the reigning champion Los Angeles FC charging hard up the table. The Seattle Sounders. San Jose Earthquakes and FC Dallas are all in a position to challenge for Conference supremacy.

How to Bet on MLS?

Betting on the MLS is a simple process that starts the same way as betting on any other sport: finding a reputable sportsbook.

Most name-brand sportsbooks available in the United States will offer markets on MLS games; picking a favorite can come down to availability in your state of residence, specific MLS markets available on each sportsbook, or available promotional offers.

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Any sportsbook that fits the above criteria will require a signup process, including creating an account to help verify your identity and location.

Once that step of the process is clear, all that’s left is depositing funds (most sportsbooks allow for popular deposit methods like credit/debit cards or PayPal) and finding the bets you want to make.

At many sportsbooks, funds will become available for betting immediately after the deposit is confirmed, and you will qualify for a new user bonus.

MLS Betting Markets 

Below are some of the standard MLS betting markets you’ll find on most sportsbooks, followed by a brief explanation of what they entail.

  • Match Result – The most basic form of betting on MLS games, match result betting is the soccer equivalent of moneyline betting in other American sports. Odds are given to all three potential outcomes of the game – the favorite winning, a draw, and the underdog winning – based on their perceived likelihood of occurring.

  • Double Chance – A standard parlay-esque market offered on MLS games, double chance bets allow players to bet on two of a game’s three potential outcomes simultaneously. The bet wins if either outcome in the bet transpires.

  • Both Teams to Score –  BTtS betting allows bettors to wager on whether both teams score in a game, or (for increased odds) whether both teams score in either half.

  • Over/Under Total Goals – As with over/under or total betting in other sports, this bet type allows bettors to wager on whether the total number of goals scored in a game (or a half) will exceed or fall short of a given line.

  • Correct Score – A bet type that entails predicting the exact final score of a match. It’s a bet type that requires exceptional precision and luck to hit, but the odds across the board allow for high potential returns.

  • Halftime/Fulltime – A bet type that allows bettors to wager on the result of the first half alongside the result of the game. Odds are given to each of the nine potential outcomes based on their perceived likelihood of occurring.

  • Asian Handicap – A broad bet type that takes on different names for different sportsbooks depending on the handicap involved. Handicap betting fulfills the same function as betting on the spread in other sports, allowing bettors to wager on whether or not the favored team will win by over a specified margin.

The above list covers most of the main betting options for MLS games but isn’t exhaustive. Several additional bet types exist that allow bettors to wager on an outcome while voiding the bet in the event of another outcome. Other markets offer odds on parlays of the above bet types, while others still offer odds on a range of outcomes for a particular bet type occurring.

Tips for MLS Betting

Here are some tips to keep in mind if you’re diving into betting on the MLS for the first time:

  • Practice Good Bankroll Management – As a starting point, as with any sports betting, it’s important to set a budget and stick to it. Sports betting is a form of entertainment and should remain an enjoyable experience regardless of whether your bets succeed. Impulsively chasing losses – or placing new bets to recoup losses from failed bets without adequate research – is a quick way to turn a small loss into a large one.

  • Consider Home/Away Advantage – The MLS is a league where games are hosted in a wide variety of venues, and soccer is a game that can be heavily influenced by variable field conditions. Knowing the conditions in which a game will be played – and whether they play to the home team’s advantage – is important.

  • Stay Up-to-Date on Team News – It’s important to know the status of the teams and players heading into a match, in terms of injuries or suspensions, team motivation, and recent results.

  • Know the Bet Types and Browse for the Best Odds – Make sure you understand the available bet types to be sure that the bet you’re making is the bet you want to make. Check with other sportsbooks to make sure there isn’t a better-fitting market available, or better odds for the market you’re betting on.

What are the Differences When Betting on MLS vs European Soccer?

Soccer is played in various formats across different countries – if you’re familiar with betting on top European leagues, like the Premier League or La Liga, there are a few differences worth noting when betting on the MLS.

Among these differences is that teams are divided into conferences partly to minimize travel distances between cities. Teams mostly play within their conferences, but are still subject to travel across longer distances – covering the United States and Canada – than teams that play within particular European countries.

Mls betting guide 2023: how and where to bet on soccer?
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In addition to the diverse climates of the cities that host MLS teams and the long run of the season, teams can play in a range of venues in terms of indoor or outdoor fields, field dimensions (in the case of New York City FC), and elevation (in the case of the Colorado Rapids). Travel, weather, and field conditions comprise an altogether significant variable in the outcome of MLS games.

Beyond that, the MLS stands apart from several European leagues in that the regular season has no direct impact on deciding the league champion, nor is there a promotion or relegation system that concerns teams at the top or bottom of the standings.

Past MLS Champions

Here are the last ten MLS champions, sorted by year:

  • 2022 – Los Angeles FC
  • 2021 – New York City FC
  • 2020 – Columbus Crew
  • 2019 – Seattle Sounders
  • 2018 – Atlanta United
  • 2017 – Toronto FC
  • 2016 – Seattle Sounders
  • 2015 – Portland Timbers
  • 2014 – LA Galaxy
  • 2013 – Sporting Kansas City

Best Teams in MLS History

Having only been founded in 1993 and having played its inaugural season in 1996, the MLS lacks the rich history of some other American professional sports leagues – especially with the number of recent additions to the league. Still, the league doesn’t lack historically established winning franchises.

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The LA Galaxy – one of the league’s inaugural franchises – currently sits atop the MLS with five championships from the 2002, 2005, 2011, 2012, and 2014 seasons.

D.C. United sits just behind them with four, having won in the 1996, 1997, 1999, and 2004 seasons.

Both teams are also proud owners of four Supporters’ Shields, which are awarded every season to the team with the best regular season record.

The Columbus Crew rank as a distant third-best team in MLS history with five combined trophies; the San Jose Earthquakes own four despite two fewer years of operation.

Lionel Messi Signing: Implications for MLS Betting

In 2007, the LA Galaxy made international news with the signing of English soccer player David Beckham – who went on to have a pivotal role in the team’s consecutive cup victories in 2011 and 2012.

Early in June 2023, Inter Miami CF – the team owned and presided over by Beckham – made bigger news with the announcement that they’d agreed to sign Argentine forward Lionel Messi. His debut with the club is set for July 21, five days after the CONCACAF Gold Cup and two days after the MLS All-Stars are scheduled to play Arsenal.

Mls betting guide 2023: how and where to bet on soccer?
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Impact of Lionel Messi's Arrival in MLS

Regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, Messi is the biggest star to arrive in the MLS in the league’s history. Miami has already committed to increasing their stadium capacity and security in preparation for his arrival, and his financial incentives to sign with the club are far beyond the contracts of any other active or past MLS player.

On the field, Messi figures to help an Inter Miami CF team that currently finds themselves at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with 15 points.

Messi's Influence on MLS Betting

Messi also figures to be a huge needle-mover in the MLS sports betting world, starting with attracting an immense number of new bettors to the market.

Inter Miami CF will likely become more favored by the oddsmakers from Messi’s first game on the field, even if it remains to be seen how quickly Messi will acclimate to the league.

The increased focus on Miami games, and Messi in particular, will also likely lead to novelty prop bets concerning the team’s games. What those bets are remain to be seen, however, given the unprecedented nature of the signing.