Gone are the MLS days of the top-seeded side in each conference getting a bye to the postseason semifinals, with the new format pitting the No. 1 side in each against the winners of the No. 8 vs. No. 9 Wild Card game.
St. Louis CITY SC started their MLS journey like a rocket, with the expansion side setting the second-best ever points total for a rookie season, one short of LAFC’s maiden total. Having been top of the Western Conference for almost the entire season, they’re hoping to use that consistency to propel them to debut glory in MLS Cup 2023.
Sporting Kansas City made the playoffs in style with a massive win on Decision Day over Minnesota United, setting up their Wild Card game against the San Jose Earthquakes.
That game wasn’t the classic many had expected, but SKC triumphed on penalties to earn themselves a shot at the West’s best.
This is Jack Collins from The Game Day to look at the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs series between Western Conference champions St. Louis CITY SC and Wild Card game winners Sporting Kansas City, starting Sunday, Oct. 29.
St. Louis CITY SC vs. Sporting Kansas City MLS Cup Odds
MLS lines used for St. Louis CITY SC vs. Sporting Kansas City were current as of Thursday, Oct. 26 at 10 am EST on Bet365 Sportsbook.
- St. Louis CITY SC to win MLS Cup: +650
- St. Louis CITY SC to reach MLS Cup Final: +300
- Sporting Kansas City to win MLS Cup: +5000
- Sporting Kansas City to reach MLS Cup Final: +2000
St. Louis CITY SC vs. Sporting Kansas City Best-of-3 Prediction
St Louis CITY SC Win Series 2-0
SKC edged through a nervy encounter in the Wild Card game against the San Jose Earthquakes, failing to build on the momentum that seemed to have been generated by that big win over Minnesota on Decision Day.
In the end, though, their experience told – you don’t ever write off Johnny Russell, and the Sporting KC captain stuck his penalty away with aplomb in the shootout on the way to SKC making it to Round One of the playoffs proper.
That experience is going to be crucial if they want to spring a shock against high-flying newcomers St. Louis CITY, whose early-season rampage in the West allowed them to glide to the title serenely in the end.
But while full of talent, Russell and SKC will feel their know-how of this part of the season gives them a fighting chance of causing an upset.
And with a more convincing performance in the Wild Card round, you might have been tempted to believe that was the case. As it is, the claim St. Louis can get this one over the line relatively quickly is a strong one, especially with Game 1 at CITYPARK.
St. Louis are 11W-4L-2D at home in MLS this season, and they beat SKC 8-1 on aggregate over their two fixtures in the campaign.
Kansas City haven't improved enough to overturn that advantage, and St. Louis should find their stride with the injury table finally relatively straightforward. St. Louis in two.
St. Louis CITY SC MLS Cup Future
St. Louis CITY SC to Win MLS Cup (+650) • Bet365 Sportsbook
St. Louis CITY have been quite the fairytale story so far this season. First year in MLS, a squad put together really well, and everyone kept wondering when their early-season pace would regress to a mean that would allow more established names – such as MLS Cup holders LAFC – to catch them in the Western Conference.
But that moment never came. Although St. Louis did fall off a bit from their blistering start to life in MLS, their consistency across the campaign saw them stay clear of the chasing pack, and they claimed the Western Conference regular-season title at the start of October.
Through the heart of this team, you can see the structure St. Louis’ backroom have worked so hard to build.
Former Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Bürki has been a stalwart between the posts, and their Designated Players – all-action German center midfielder Eduard Löwen and focal point João Klauss – have both contributed heavily in terms of output, despite both missing several games through injury.
They’ve augmented that with intelligent trades and SuperDraft pickups – MLS standout Tim Parker has been sublime in the back line. At the same time, Nicholas Gioacchini, a bit-part player during his time in Orlando, has emerged as a credible alternative to Klauss and got himself back in USMNT contention.
All in all, this is a well-built squad, with all the essential pieces coming together at the right time to make a postseason run. It lacks a bit of playoff experience, which might be the issue that derails the applecart when they come up against some of the savvier sides in the Western Conference.
Still, on the evidence we’ve seen this season, there’s no reason this St. Louis side, who would have home-field advantage all the way in the West, can’t be in the conversation.