New York Red Bulls are the favorites to lift the US Open Cup in 2022.
Who do Bettors Favor?
According to the best-rated online sportsbooks there’s one dominant team remaining in the US Open Cup, and that’s the New York Red Bulls. They are rated as -120 favorites to win the competition, ahead of Sporting Kansas City and Orlando, who are closely priced. The big outsiders are Sacramento Republic, who play their soccer in the USL, and can be wagered on at +2500.
|Open Cup Winners|
|NY Red Bulls||-120|
What can we Learn from Open Cup History?
The Lamar Hunt US Open Cup is by some distance the oldest soccer competition in the US. It has a history that dates back to 1914, and this edition is the 107th renewal.
Over 100 teams take part in the competition, beginning with the first three rounds that feature amateur and lower league teams. Most MLS teams enter in Round Three, apart from last season’s top eight teams who join in the following round, with the tournament then leading to a September final.
Not surprisingly, since the launch of MLS in 1996, these teams have dominated the competition. Only one non-MLS team, the Rochester Rhinos (1999) have won the Cup, and only one other team from outside MLS has reached the final, the Charleston Battery in 2008. Chicago Fire, Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City have won it four times, DC United three times and FC Dallas and LA Galaxy twice.
Red Bulls Favorites
New York Red Bulls have never won this competition, though they have reached the final twice, in 2008 and 2017. This season the Red Bulls have been in strong form in MLS and have impressed on their way to the last four of the Open Cup, benefitting from only one relatively straightforward fixture.
Having beaten Hartford in the Third Round, they beat DC United 3-0 on the road and thrashed Charlotte FC at home. Their most impressive performance however came in the quarter-finals, when they comprehensively beat local rivals and MLS Cup holders NYCFC 3-0 to make the last four.
Based on what we’ve seen this season, the Red Bulls are deserved favorites but the draw hasn’t been particularly kind to them, matching them up against Orlando, who can be stubborn opponents. Given that this competition has had its share of shocks, and that by the time the final comes around, the Red Bulls are likely to have other priorities, taking a short price on a Red Bulls outright win does not appeal.
Sporting Kansas have the Open Cup Pedigree
Sporting Kansas are not just the only team of the remaining four to have won this competition, they hold the joint record of four wins among MLS teams. That impressive Open Cup pedigree, however, has to be balanced by their poor performance so far this season.
Although Kansas have won five games in MLS, they haven’t been able to build on any of those victories, and are currently bottom of the Western Conference, seven points adrift of the playoffs having played more games than most of the teams above them.
They have beaten Houston and Dallas on the way to the last four, but had home advantage for both, as they did in their quarter-final against Union Omaha of USL 1. They’ve been drawn against the weakest of the last four teams, but given the way they’ve played this season, they can’t be trusted as a wager.
Orlando Worth a Look in Open Cup
Orlando have the toughest draw of the last four, against New York Red Bulls but they will have home advantage and they can be a difficult team to get past.
Oscar Parejo’s team have been resolute all season and have the ability to grind out draws no matter how much they are forced back, which makes them ideal competitors in knockout soccer. They needed penalties to get past Nashville and Inter Miami in earlier rounds, but they have also beaten Philadelphia Union in this tournament and are only three points behind the Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference. At these prices, Orlando are worth a look in the tournament winners’ market.
Can Sacramento Cause a Shock?
Sacramento Republic have been the story of the tournament so far. Having come through three rounds against USL and lower league opposition, they overcame San Jose Earthquakes and then sensationally beat LA Galaxy on the road, taking the lead on four minutes and scoring the winner on 70. In fact, they also scored Galaxy’s only goal in that 2-1, thanks to an own goal by Conor Donovan.
The record of USL teams in this competition since 1996 suggests that they will be hard pressed to win the whole thing, but with home advantage against poor MLS opposition, they are a good bet to cause another shock and make it to the final.