This year’s MLS Eastern Conference final is a rematch of last year’s game, and Philadelphia Union are out for revenge against NYCFC.
Who do Bettors Favor?
The best-rated online sportsbooks show that Philadelphia are the big favorites with bettors for this rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Final. The Union have home advantage and are rated as -119 favorites to win here. NYCFC are the underdogs and can be backed at odds of +300 while the normal time draw is priced up at +285/
|Philadelphia v NYCFC|
Betting on the MLS Playoff Finals
At this stage, the MLS playoffs have left four teams still standing and they will go head-to-head in the East and the West with the winners meeting in the MLS Cup Final.
Conference regular season standings determine home advantage in these games, so Philadelphia will be at home here, but in the MLS Cup Final, the home team is the one that had a better points record in the regular season. If LAFC wins the Western Conference Final, then whichever team wins this game will be playing in LA for the MLS Cup final as LAFC had the best overall regular season record.
It is also important to note that there are no replays in the Conference Finals. If the teams are level at the end of normal time, the game will be decided on extra time and then penalties, though this has only happened twice before: in 2004 and 2009.
Philadelphia Top in the East
Philadelphia Union have been the top team in the East from the start of the regular season, going unbeaten through their first six games. Their fans were frustrated by a series of drawn games in the early summer, but they soon moved past that, and eventually won 12 of their last 15 as they finished top in the East, earning a bye to the Conference Semi-Finals.
Their top player throughout the regular season was forward Daniel Gazdag. He had a relatively quiet debut campaign at the club, but in 2022 scored 22 goals and provided ten assists, while at the other end, Philadelphia ended the season with the best defensive record.
They were up against a resilient Cincinnati side in the Conference Semi-Finals and had to work hard for the victory, but came through with the win, thanks to a goal from Leon Flach.
NYCFC Aiming to Continue Winning Run
Only twice in the history of MLS has a team been able to defend their title and the last occasion was back in 2012. Since then, the task has become tougher as the league has expanded, so NYCFC have been fighting against the odds from the beginning.
They made a solid start to their defense, losing only one out of 16 games up to the end of July, but the loss of Taty Castellanos, who joined Girona on loan, triggered a dramatic collapse. They managed one win in their next ten and were even in danger of slipping out of playoff contention before a run of three wins to close out the regular season secured their postseason place.
In the First Round of the playoffs, they left it late against Inter Miami, scoring three times in the last half hour to clinch a 3-0 win. That set up a tough game in Montreal, but NYCFC dominated from the start, going 3-0 up by the hour mark and eventually winning 3-1, extending their winning run to five.
Head-to-Head MLS Record
NYCFC joined MLS in 2015, but as both teams are in the Eastern Conference, this rivalry has already seen 18 games and the New York team has had the better of the head-to-head record.
Philadelphia won their first meeting 2-1 and have beaten NYCFC on six occasions, but the New Yorkers have won ten, including a streak of five wins in a row between 2018 and 2021.
NYCFC also won their most significant game to date in last year’s Eastern Conference final. A Philadelphia line-up depleted by COVID-19 absences took the lead just after the hour mark, but NYCFC leveled two minutes later and eventually won 2-1, scoring the winner with two minutes left on the clock.
This year, their regular season encounters have gone the other way, however. Philadelphia won the first game 2-0 in New York and completed the double with a 2-1 win at home in June.
Betting Pick for MLS Eastern Final
Based on what we saw in the regular season, it would be easy to pick Philadelphia, with home advantage, to come out on top here. But NYCFC have suddenly found form at exactly the right time. Those three wins at the end of the season weren’t just important in getting them home advantage in the First Round, they helped to generate some momentum.
Since then, they’ve easily beaten Inter Miami and dominated from the start against Montreal, who finished the season with a better record. And we shouldn’t forget, this roster knows how to win an MLS Cup. This game will surely be close, and I think NYCFC are capable of taking it to extra time.