LAFC are the bookies’ favorites to progress from the Western Conference Final, and all season they have looked destined for the MLS Cup.
Who do Bettors Favor?
The best-rated online sportsbooks are in agreement on the clear favorite for this game. LAFC, having won the Supporters’ Shield, are the overwhelming choice of bettors and is rated around -190 for this game. The visitors are not given much of a chance according to the markets and are priced at +400, while if you think this game may go to extra time or penalties, you can back the normal time draw at +380.
|LAFC v Austin|
Betting on the MLS Playoff Finals
Four clubs are now remaining in the MLS playoffs and they will compete against one another in the East and West, with the winners meeting in the MLS Cup Final.
LAFC will play at home in this match since home advantage is determined by conference regular season rankings, and if they win, they will also be at home in the MLS Cup Final as the host team for that game is decided on which of the two teams had the best regular season points total.
Although the format of the Conference Finals has been altered over the years, in 2022, the outcome of the match is decided in one game, without the need for a second leg or a replay. The game will be decided on extra time and then penalties if the teams are tied at the end of regular time, although penalties have not so far been required in the Western Final.
LAFC Dominant in the West
LAFC were dominant throughout the regular season and had little difficulty in wrapping up the Western Conference with an eleven-point lead over Austin, their closest challengers. Their all-around strength was underlined by the fact that they finished with the best offensive and defensive record in the West, and their higher win count was enough to win them the Supporters’ Shield.
That gave them a bye in the First Round of the playoffs and means that they will have the home advantage all the way to the MLS Cup Final, assuming they get there.
They certainly needed that extra time off as they faced LA Galaxy in the Conference Semi-Finals and played out another classic battle in which they led twice before Chicho Arango scored the winner in injury time to end Galaxy’s season and take LAFC to the Final. Although that was a close-run game, LAFC dominated on Expected Goals and were ultimately good value for the win.
Austin Continue to have Remarkable Recovery
Austin’s recovery from MLS underdogs to the second-best team in the West in the space of a year has been record-breaking. No other team has registered such a dramatic improvement in their second MLS season, as they added 25 points to their 2021 tally.
It was a surprise that head coach Josh Wolff did not enter the conversation for the Coach of the Year Award, but he would no doubt settle for lifting the MLS Cup instead.
He has not just improved his team’s offensive and defensive capability, but he has turned this group of players into a resilient unit, as they showed in coming through two tough playoff games. First, they had to fight back from 2-0 against Real Salt Lake in the First Round, eventually winning on penalties after equalizing in the fourth minute of injury time.
That set up a Texan derby in the Semi-Final as Austin took on FC Dallas. They started strongly, opening up a 2-0 lead after half an hour, but they had to work hard in the second half to withstand a Dallas onslaught and eventually hung on to win 2-1.
Head-to-Head MLS Record
LAFC joined MLS in 2018, while the 2021 season was Austin’s first at this level, so this rivalry in the West is one of the newest in the league.
So far, these two teams have met five times in MLS, and there has been a clear pattern to their matches so far. Last year, Austin were one of the poorest teams in the league, and LAFC had no trouble in winning all three games against their Texan opponents by an aggregate score of 6-1.
Things have been different in 2022, however, despite LAFC’s outstanding season. They have met twice this year, and Austin has won both games to improve the balance of the head-to-head. They won 2-1 in LA back in May and then were impressive 4-1 winners in August in the return game.
Betting Pick for MLS Western Final
Austin FC’s resilience makes them tough opponents, and LAFC will have to maintain high standards right to the final second of the game. However, with a stronger squad, plenty of experience, and home advantage, they have a clear edge, and a hard-fought home win is the best betting option here.