MLS Returning To What Should Be An Exciting Season

Major League Soccer is on the horizon again with the league’s 27 franchises getting ready to battle in what will hopefully be a full season of play. MLS will welcome new faces in the shape of Austin FC and it will be fascinating to see how quickly this expansion team can get things going. Picking up as many points as possible will be Austin’s aim, while at the other end of the spectrum, it could be a tight finish at the top.

Following an unscheduled break in the 2020 campaign, last season was eventually decided in mid-December with the Columbus Crew being crowned MLS Cup champs (Crew’s second-ever title), amid overcoming defending champions (and favorites) the Seattle Sounders, in the final. The 3-0 win provided something of an upset, but it had been a positive overall campaign for coach Caleb Porter’s men. Other teams to go deep into the playoffs included conference semifinalists Minnesota United FC and the New England Revolution. The above four franchises (minus Austin) will be aiming for big seasons once again, but according to the sportsbooks, we should be looking elsewhere for our 2021 MLS Cup winner.

The Verdict for 2021

Those US bookmakers linked to list Los Angeles FC as the narrow favorites to claim the Cup, at the end of the season. In a tight chasing pack, Toronto FC, plus the 2020 finalists from Columbus and Seattle are close behind. In 2020, LAFC advanced to the playoffs, but were quickly bounced by the Sounders. Since their formation in 2018, the ‘’Black and Gold’’ have yet to advance to the final round, so their position at the top of the betting market may come as a surprise. LA are the favorites for glory this season and they are looking strong. South American stars Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi provide their biggest threat and LAFC will not be short of goals in the upcoming campaign.

Those markets will continue to be updated as the season draws closer and will also provide their readers with opinion articles and any significant MLS news developments. Offers and promotions are also in place for anyone who wants to consider taking their interest a little further.

Ones to Watch

David Beckham’s Inter Miami made a steady, if unspectacular start to life in the MLS. The team known as The Herons finished in tenth place in the Eastern Conference, before exiting early in the postseason. Miami is not expected to claim MLS glory just yet; it is very much the early days in their development, but they could go deeper into the tournament than many suspect. Beckham has overseen a change on the sidelines, bringing in his former Manchester United teammate Phil Neville in as the new Inter Miami coach, replacing Diego Alonso.

There has been some changes to the playing roster too with Neville trading for the experienced English defender Ryan Shawcross. Two further high profile internationals - France’s Blaise Matuidi and Argentina’s Gonzalo Higuain - were part of the playing staff last season and, as the team gels, Miami could go much deeper this time.

Another team to attract interest is Toronto FC, who won the MLS Cup back in 2017. The Canadian club enjoyed a strong regular season, finishing second in the Eastern Conference, just three points behind the league leading Philadelphia Union. Toronto subsequently crashed out in the first playoff round, but they certainly have the quality to go much further in 2021. Toronto has an experienced squad and they will rely, once again, on the goals of Jozy Altidore. The USMNT international had a poor campaign in 2020, scoring just twice, but an improvement in that return could see the Canadians battling for the trophy once again.

A Successful Defense?

Last year’s finalists, the Columbus Crew and Seattle Sounders, are looking strong once again. With some subtle changes to each playing roster, both teams are fully expected to make it out of the regular season and compete strongly in the playoffs. When MLS does return, it will provide us with a fascinating few months of soccer and there are several teams with a shot at glory in 2021.