Major League Soccer is the premier professional soccer league in the United States. As the most popular sport in the world, soccer, also known as “football,” has vastly grown in popularity over the years in the United States.
This boom in interest has led to a larger American audience for the sport internationally and in the domestic teams within MLS, for both spectating fans and sports bettors.
I'm Matt Williams from The Game Day, and here are some of the most important tips you'll need to start wagering on your favorite MLS teams and players.
How to Read MLS Betting Odds & Lines
Before learning how to read MLS betting odds, it is essential to understand how American betting odds work.
When placing a simple moneyline wager, you are often presented with three options in soccer: Win, Lose, or Draw. Those plays are displayed with different odds, such as -150, +150, or +100.
The best way to understand American betting odds is to treat each wager on a $100 scale.
If you place a bet with +100 odds, you must bet $100 to win $100. That is why +100 is considered an “even money” bet.
If you win a bet with +150 odds, you would win $150 on top of your bet by risking $100. That is because you have “plus-money” odds.
Conversely, if you bet with -150 odds, you must bet $150 to win $100 on top of your stake.
MLS matches have many betting types, from moneyline and game totals to game props and futures.
Types of MLS Bets Online
Below are examples of some of the common wager types you can find for MLS matches.
Moneyline bets are offered in two variations: Two-Way and Three-Way betting.
A two-way moneyline wager consists of betting odds for each club to win the match, with a draw resulting in a push. This is sometimes referred to as Draw No Bet.
Three-way moneyline wagers offer odds for each club to win, and an additional bet is provided for a draw.
Moneyline bets can be offered for a full-time result and a half-time result.
Spread Bets (Handicap)
Betting on the spread in MLS matches is the same principle as betting on the spread in other major sports. This is often referred to as the handicap.
It is common to find the spread listed between 0.5 and two goals, depending on the matchup.
If a team is listed as -1.5, they must win the match by at least two goals to cover the spread. Conversely, a club listed at +1.5 could cover the spread by either winning the match or losing by fewer than two goals -- typically in regular time only.
Betting the goal line in soccer is betting either Over or Under the projected total for a particular match.
Oddsmakers typically set a standard goal line at 2.5 goals. This allows you to choose whether the final score with equal Over or Under 2.5 goals.
You often find alternate goal lines with separate odds within the same match.
Second Chance Betting
Second Chance Betting is when a sportsbook offers a promotion that acts like betting insurance.
If you take advantage of this promotion, you would be given a refund (usually site credit) if your designated wager ends as a loss.
A betting parlay is a single bet with multiple wager selections.
The upside for betting parlays is that each betting selection is multiplied by one another, creating the opportunity for a more significant profit.
However, each betting selection must win for a parlay bet to cash. This vastly increases the difficulty of victory.
Round Robin Betting
A round-robin bet is a form of parlay that allows the creation of a subset of smaller bets from a designated list of options.
This is the same idea as betting an exacta box in horse racing. If you bet an exacta, you are betting on the order in which horses will finish 1-2 in a race. However, if you bet an exacta box, you can bet on a larger subset of horses to finish 1-2 in the race.
So instead of betting $2 on Horse A and Horse B to finish in first and second, you would then bet on Horse A, Horse B, and Horse C to finish in first and second in any combination.
You can win with any combinations A and B, A and C, B, and C.
The same goes for MLS betting.
If you like four different bets but do not like the all-or-nothing option of a parlay, a round-robin will create mini two-leg parlays from all four bets. This would then create six betting combinations.
This comes with less risk than a full parlay but a higher cost than single bets in order to account for all possibilities spanning your wagered teams or players.
Prop betting includes game props and player props.
These wagers are for specific outcomes within the match on a particular result or statistic.
Popular soccer game props include Correct Score; Half Time/Full Time Result (also Double Result, a combined version); and Total Corner Kicks.
Popular soccer player props include First, Last, and Anytime Scorer; Anytime Assist; and Shots on Goal.
MLS betting futures involve placing a wager on a long-term result.
The most popular forms of betting futures account for the markets of the MLS Cup Winner, Golden Boot winner, and individual player statistical or award futures.
When live betting, you are placing a wager on odds that change as the match occurs.
If a team is ahead or behind, their odds will change depending on the score; how much time is left; and how the betting market and sportsbook traders foresee the outcome occurring. Therefore, you can take advantage of this opportunity if you believe a team will come back or lose its lead.
In addition, you can live bet on the Over/Under and props.
How the MLS Cup Playoffs Work
MLS is now up to 29 teams with the addition of St. Louis CITY SC, which brings a brand new playoff format that includes a best-of-three round.
Nine teams from each conference will reach the postseason. Seeds 1-7 will earn a BYE through to the first round, while the 8-9 seeds square off in a sudden-death Wild Card match.
After Round One is set with eight teams in each conference, a best-of-three series will take place. In these contests, there will be no draws.
After Round One, the playoffs resume with a traditional single–elimination format until the MLS Cup winner is crowned in the final.
Betting on the postseason will present opportunities for futures markets and possibly series win props, in addition to each game's typical betting offerings.
How the MLS Cup Works
MLS awards two major titles every season: the Supporters' Shield and the MLS Cup.
The club that ends the regular season with the most points, regardless of conference, earns the Supporters' Shield. This team is considered the regular-season champion.
However, the most coveted title is awarded to the club that navigates its way through the MLS playoffs. As a result, this team is awarded the MLS Cup.
You can bet on MLS Cup futures from the preseason through deep into the postseason.