Can Philadelphia Win as a Longshot?

Home advantage has proved significant in recent MLS Cup finals, but Philadelphia will be out to beat the odds when they take on LAFC in this season’s finale.

Who do Bettors Favor?

The best-rated online sportsbooks are predicting that home advantage will be the key factor here. Although both teams finished with similar regular season records, LAFC are rated as favorites with bettors to win this game at the Banc of California Stadium. The Supporters’ Shield winners are -130 in the Match Winner market, while the visitors are at +315 and the normal time draw is +330.

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MLS Cup Final Betting Briefing

It is a sign of the competitive nature of MLS that this is only the fourth time that the regular season winners of the Eastern and Western Conferences have met in the MLS Cup Final, and the first since 2003. Remarkably, it is also the first MLS Cup appearance for both LAFC and Philadelphia, and the first since 2014 to feature neither the Seattle Sounders nor the Portland Timbers.

LAFC will have home advantage here, having finished with the superior regular season record and that may well give them a significant edge. Of the last ten MLS Cup finals, seven have been won by the home team and three by the visitors, although NYCFC, the most recent winners, bucked that trend in the 2021 MLS Cup Final, beating Portland Timbers at Providence Park.

LAFC Cruise to the Final

LAFC were by some distance the most dominant team in the Western Conference throughout the regular season, eventually finishing 11 points clear over their nearest rivals, Austin. An indication of their all-round ability was the fact that they ended with both the best defensive and offensive record in the Conference, and they edged the Supporters’ Shield ahead of Philadelphia on number of wins.

After their first-round bye, they were given a tough challenge against their city rivals in the Western Conference semi-finals. The two LA teams have played out some classics over the years and this was another as LAFC twice led before Chico Arango grabbed the win in injury time.

That set up a potentially tricky Conference Final against a fast-improving Austin team, with a serious goal threat. But in the event, LAFC were able to cruise to the MLS Cup Final, winning 3-0.

MLS Cup Head-to-Head Record

Philadelphia Go One Better

After missing out on an MLS Cup Final appearance last season, there was an extra level of determination from Philadelphia this time round and they dominated in the Eastern Conference from the beginning, completing their first six games undefeated. A run of draws at the start of the summer slowed their momentum, but they recovered well to win 12 of their final 15 and top the Conference.

Earning a bye to the Conference Semi-Finals gave Jim Curtin and his team the chance to recuperate and they had to work hard to get past a tough Cincinnati team in that game, eventually prevailing thanks to a single goal from Leon Flach.

Twelve months ago, the Union were knocked out at the Conference Final stage by NYCFC so lining up against the same rivals in this year’s Conference finale gave them a chance to gain some revenge. But when Maxi Moralez scored for New York on 57 minutes, Philly fans feared the worst. They need not have worried. A burst of three goals in 11 minutes settled the game, enabling Philadelphia to go one better than 2021 and make the MLS Cup Final for the first time in franchise history.

MLS Cup Head-to-Head Record

As LAFC only entered MLS in 2018, there has been little time for these teams to establish a rivalry, and the head-to-head record shows that they have been well-matched.

LAFC won their first meeting, in 2018, with a healthy 4-1 margin, but their remaining three games have finished as draws. They drew 1-1 in 2019 and then produced a memorable 3-3 draw in 2020. They met once earlier this season and again provided an entertaining encounter, which ended 2-2 after Philadelphia led twice.

Betting Pick for MLS Cup Final

As their regular season record showed, there is very little to choose between these teams. Philadelphia are perhaps slightly stronger defensively, while LAFC have the edge on offense, but all three results are possible at the Banc of California Stadium.

The fact that both teams are appearing in their first MLS Cup final may also have an effect, leading to a more cautious approach from both. It is also worth noting that four of the last ten MLS Cup Finals have gone to extra time with one being settled in extra time and three going to penalties.

Although LAFC have the home advantage, Philadelphia are a tough team to wear down and the normal time draw looks the best betting pick here.

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Chris Boline

Chris Boline is an avid sports fan and currently works within the sports industry. He has previously written for outlets covering the NBA G League, Los Angeles Chargers, Mountain West Conference football and basketball and has been a writer for over 10 years. Chris is very involved within his local community and spends his free time working with community organizations, sitting on boards, and spending time with friends and family.

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