After breaking the all-time MLS points record, Toronto FC (7/3) are unquestionably the 2017 MLS Cup favorites. Racking up 69 points to claim the Supporters’ Shield, Toronto finished 12 points clear of their nearest competitor.
Head coach Greg Vanney and GM Tim Bezbatchenko have created a model that deserves to be replicated. They’ve built the deepest, most talent-rich squad in North America, and they’re reaping the rewards. Their Designated Players — Michael Bradley, Sebastian Giovinco, and Jozy Altidore — are not former European stars or washed-up legends. They’re just great players. The Toronto FC lineup is built solely to get results, and it’s done just that.
The biggest threat to Toronto is New York City FC (17/3), who finished second in the conference and also placed second overall. With Patrick Vieira as head coach, along with a 35-year-old David Villa and a 38-year-old Andrea Pirlo on the field, NYCFC are by far the most star-studded club in the MLS. They’ve also invested in a few promising young players this season, like Jack Harrison and Alexander Ring.
The Western Conference was dominated by the Cascadia clubs — Portland Timbers (9/1), Seattle Sounders (9/1), and Vancouver Whitecaps (9/1) — who all finished the regular season within a single point of each other. Vancouver recently demolished San Jose in the postseason knockout round, so all three teams are now onto the conference semifinal.
Portland claimed the MLS Cup in 2015 and Seattle kept the trophy in the Pacific Northwest by winning in 2016. With all three clubs in fine form at the moment, keeping the MLS Cup in the Pacific Northwest is a real possibility.
The other Western conference hopeful, Houston Dynamo (23/2), scraped past Kansas City in their knockout match. It was a frenetic, error-riddled affair, and neither side looked deserving of a semifinal spot. Though if we consider Houston’s entire season, they’ve looked pretty good. An impressive +12 goal differential and a solid 57 goals-for show that they have a fighting chance.
The Columbus Crew (91/9) and New York Red Bulls (23/2) both defied the odds and won their knockout matches. Columbus edged past Atlanta in a shootout, while the Red Bulls blasted four goals against Chicago. Both clubs were overshadowed by NYCFC and Toronto during the regular season, but we shouldn’t write them off just yet.
The conference semifinals kick off on Sunday, October 29, and that’s when we’ll really see who’s ready for postseason glory. For now, here are the odds to win the 2017 MLS Cup.
2017 MLS Cup Odds
Toronto FC: 7/3
New York City FC: 17/3
Portland Timbers: 9/1
Seattle Sounders: 9/1
Vancouver Whitecaps: 9/1
Columbus Crew: 91/9
Houston Dynamo: 23/2
New York Red Bulls: 23/2