LAFC were the dominant team in the West during the MLS regular season and you can bet on them to reach the Conference Final.
Looking at the top sportsbook sites (see our online sportsbook reviews here) LAFC are the clear favorites for their clash with Austin FC and are rated as -191 chances for the game. The visitors are big underdogs going into this Final, at +400 and the normal time draw is +380.
In the MLS playoffs, there are four teams left, and they will compete against one another in the East and the West, with the victors meeting in the MLS Cup Final.
Home-field advantage is based on a team’s finish in the regular season standings, however, it will be based on overall regular season standings when it comes to the MLS Cup Final itself. The top three regular-season teams were LAFC, Philadelphia, and Austin, while NYCFC finished with the poorest record of the four so are sure of being the visiting team if they reach the Final.
LAFC, who finished eleven points ahead of Austin with the best offensive and defensive records in the West, won the Supporters’ Shield for the second time in three years and earned a bye in the first round, as well as home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The break gave them time to rest up before facing LA Galaxy once more in the Semi-Finals, and El Trafico produced another classic in which LAFC had to dig deep to twice take the lead and eventually score the game-winning goal in stoppage time to advance to the Conference Final.
They will face a tough challenge from Austin in the Final. Having finished the season with 25 more points than in 2021, Austin’s transformation has been spectacular and has established a record for team improvement in a second MLS season. Josh Wolff has developed this team into a resolute and high-scoring outfit, and they have displayed plenty of grit in overcoming two challenging playoff assignments.
First up was a match against Real Salt Lake, the team that made headlines in the playoffs last year. After falling 2-0 behind, they fought back to win the game on penalties. They also had a tough game against Texas rivals FC Dallas in the Western Conference semifinal but won 2-1 in the end.
Austin FC’s free-scoring style of play along with their ability to perform under pressure makes them dangerous opponents and LAFC can’t afford any lapses in concentration in this game. However, the home team have a clear advantage in ability, with Carlos Vela and Gareth Bale in their squad, and they look the best pick to win should be a fascinating Western Conference Final.
Since the start of the season, Philadelphia Union has dominated the MLS Eastern Conference, and other than a run of games that ended in draws in the early summer, they have played like Conference champions throughout.
Union can claim to be the team with the best balance in MLS. The defense finished with the best record in MLS, allowing only 26 goals in their 34 games, while Daniel Gazdag had a stellar second season, scoring 22 goals and dishing out ten assists. Their impressive regular season play earned them a First-Round bye, and they defeated Cincinnati 1-0 in the semi-final to advance to this matchup with a familiar Eastern Conference rival.
In the competition’s history, defending an MLS Cup championship has only been achieved twice, but NYCFC had a strong start to their title defense and lost only once up to the end of July. Unfortunately, the loss of star forward Taty Castellanos weakened them significantly, and they only managed one victory in ten contests before a late comeback rescued their playoff aspirations.
They maintained their strong late-season form to defeat Inter Miami 3-0 in the opening round of the playoffs. This was followed challenging semifinal in Montreal, but NYCFC dominated from the opening minutes, jumping out to an early 3-0 lead by the hour mark and winning 3-1 to extend their winning streak to five games.
It would make sense to bet on Philadelphia based on what we saw throughout the regular season, but NYCFC has rediscovered their form at the perfect time. They gained some confidence back after the three victories at the close of the regular season, and since then, they have defeated a formidable Montreal squad as well as the improving Inter Miami. There’s little doubt that this MLS Eastern Final will be close, and NYCFC have the ability to take it to extra time.
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