With the 26th edition of the Major League Soccer underway, Eastern and Western conference teams are competing to qualify for the Playoffs and many squads are already lining up to succeed Columbus Crew and win the MLS Cup.
In this article, we will look at the strongest contenders to top the competition in 2021.
New England Revolution
New England Revolution has been pursuing the MLS Cup for 25 years now, having reached the final for the first time in 2002, followed by three consecutive finals in 2005, 2006, and 2007 and most recently in 2014. In fact, they are the only team to have been in more than one final to have never won the trophy, but 2021 seems like the year to make history.
Bruce Arena, the winner of five MLS Cups and the best coach in the history of the competition, joined the club in 2019 and has since then built a solid team to finally win the title. The ‘Revs’ have already qualified for the Playoffs and are currently priced by Major League Soccer outright football betting odds as favourites to win the competition at odds of 7/2.
The club had a quiet transfer window, although they focused on reinforcing the defensive sector by hiring centre back Christian Mafla and wingers, AJ DeLaGarza and Wilfrid Kaptoum. Additionally, the likes of Gustavo Bou, Carles Gil, Adam Buksa are expected to be decisive in the fight for the title.
Seattle Sounders FC
The Seattle Sounders FC has been, without a doubt, the most consistent team in MLS in recent years, playing four finals in the last five years, and winning on two occasions. As a result, the Sounders have established an overwhelming dominance only comparable to some of the best teams in the history of the competition.
After losing what could have been their second consecutive trophy last year, they are focused on reaching their third final in a row and winning it. This season, Brian Schmetzer has kept the structure of the main team intact, relying on Raúl Ruidíaz to score goals, while the recently returned Fredy Montero is set to provide the experience and winning mentality.
They currently lead the Western Conference comfortably, with the best defence and second-best attack in the conference.
Sporting Kansas City
Sporting Kansas have for some time now been stuck on a disappointing loop. Season after season, the Midwest team is considered a clear favourite at the title, but they always come across as ineffective in decisive moments.
The ‘Wizards’ have the longest-running project in the MLS, with Peter Vermes going for his 12th season as head manager and he has proved how his teams can be offensive and can easily control matches. But it will take him and his players a great deal of effort to match the 2013 campaign that saw them win the MLS Cup.
Last year, they entered the Playoffs as favourites at the title and were knocked off after a 3-0 defeat against Minnesota United. However, they are expected to return this year, once again, as frontrunners. Currently, Sporting Kansas are second in the Western Conference. Topping Seattle Sounders as the best attack in the conference is their two best scorers Daniel Salloi, the main contender to be MVP this year, with 16 goals and seven assists, and Johnny Russell with 10 goals and seven assists.
While these teams are outright favourites to win the MLS Cup this season, Nashville SC, Colorado Rapids and Philadelphia Union are also strong contenders to come out on top.
“Evil coffee nerd. Analyst. Incurable bacon practitioner. Total twitter fan. Typical food aficionado.”