The 2019 MLS season kicks off on March 2, with Philadelphia Union taking on 2017 MLS Cup winners Toronto FC. Soccer fans are anticipating another fascinating campaign, which will culminate on November 10. FC Cincinnati is the latest franchise to join the league, increasing the number of teams to 24, and will begin its new era when it faces Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field.
MLS Cup 2019 Odds
The odds have been released ahead of the new season and it's perhaps unsurprising to see the New York Red Bulls installed as early favorites for the 2019 MLS Cup. The Harrison, New Jersey-based side crashed out in the Conference Finals to eventual winners Atlanta United last season, but they rarely fail to qualify for the post-season playoffs and arguably have one of the strongest squads in Major League Soccer.
They've kept hold of a number of key players and have used their targeted allocation money to sign German midfielder Marc Rzatkowski, who impressed while on loan last year. Chris Armas' side have been priced up as the +400 favorites to win the 2019 MLS Cup, despite their failure to reach the final since 2008. They have won the Supporters' Shield on three occasions since 2013 and will be looking to build on last season's exceptionally strong home form, which saw them defeated on just two occasions at the Red Bull Arena. They were victorious in each of their final eight home games during the regular season and are likely to be extremely tough to beat in Harrison once again.
2018 winners Atlanta United may have lost Miguel Almiron to the Premier League, but they've managed to keep hold of MLS Cup Final Game MVP and Golden Boot winner Josef Martinez. That is a huge coup and the Five Stripes are available at odds of +500 to make it back-to-back victories. It's a feat that hasn't been achieved since 2012, when LA Galaxy managed to successfully defend their title.
The Carson club had a poor season in 2018, finishing seventh in the Western Conference and failing to qualify for the post-season playoffs for the second successive season. Nevertheless, they are joint-third in the MLS Cup odds at +600 alongside rivals Los Angeles FC.
Bob Bradley's Black and Gold enjoyed a solid debut season in Major League Soccer and have the likes of Carlos Vela and Lee Nguyen in their squad once again. Joined by Latif Blessing and new signing Rodolfo Zelaya, they look to have a balanced side that should be able to build upon their third-placed finish in the Western Conference.
2019 MLS Cup Outsiders
2017 MLS Cup winners were extremely disappointing last season, but Greg Vanney's men will be expected to improve without the distraction of the CONCACAF Champions League this time around. Even without Sebastian Giovinco, who has joined Saudi Arabian-side Al-Hilal, they should be tough to beat, and they're available at odds of +1100.
Portland Timbers put together an inspired run to reach the 2018 MLS playoffs and they are likely to be in the mix once again. They are priced at +2200 for this season's MLS Cup and will be looking to replicate 2015's heroics. Seattle Sounders often get off to a slow start and if they can improve their form throughout March and April, they could potentially be overpriced at +700.
New franchise FC Cincinnati has been quietly assembling a strong roster ahead of its debut season, with Fanendo Adi, Darren Mattocks, Victor Ulloa and Nick Hagglund all providing plenty of Major League Soccer experience. Cincinnati is a +6600 outsider and will be hoping to get off to a fast start in 2019.