Editors’ Note: American betting odds are based on $100 bets. Favorites are expressed by a lower number, heavily favorited teams will often be expressed with (-). So, for example, if the betting odds for a club are -150, you would need to bet $150 to make $100. Whereas, if the odds are +150, a $100 bet would payout $150.
Columbus Crew enter Match 14 of the Major League Soccer regular season with a five-point lead in the Eastern Conference standings over rival side Toronto FC. A look at the overall standings, as well as current form of the two clubs, would lead you to believe Columbus is the clear favorites for Sundays’ Trillium Cup match in East Hartford, Connecticut:
Columbus Crew SC: W, W, D, W, W
Toronto FC: L, L, W, D, W
However, current betting odds reveal a slightly different tale. Toronto is favored to hand the Crew only its second loss of the season, albeit narrowly. The Reds are currently favorited +138 to Columbus’ +185.
The safest bet for the Trillium Cup, however? A draw. With the highest odds of +235, it would seem oddsmakers are having as tough of a time calling Sunday’s contest as many fans.
Both the Crew and Toronto have had dominant seasons, albeit in small bubbles for the most part. The Black & Gold have only suffered one loss in the clubs’ historic season, but out of the 30 points, the Crew has racked up over a third (11) from repeated contests against FC Cincinnati and Chicago Fire. Similarly, of the Reds’ 25 points, almost half (12) come from matches against the Vancouver Whitecaps and Montreal Impact.
This stat is not to disparage either club’s standings. Rather, its purpose is to point out the irregularity of the current season in MLS, and to shed light on the impact said irregularity holds on the final phase of the season leading into the MLS Cup playoffs.
Every team in the league has been tasked with facing a rotation of repeating opponents for the most part. The aforementioned “bubbles” MLS has set up to limit travel as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has made matches more difficult to predict as we move into the final phase of the regular season, as many clubs face opponents outside of their initial bubbles for the first time since the season restarted.
It is contests like Sundays’ that oddsmakers look to when determining the chances each club has of capturing its second MLS Cup. With the final phase of this irregular season upon us, this final stretch heading into the MLS Cup playoffs will surely reveal which clubs are truly the best among the league, and which clubs’ standings have benefited from the grouping seen up until this point.