Editor’s 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
Two of Major League Soccer’s titans in 2020 collide in the first week of the regular season, as the defending MLS Cup Champions Columbus Crew host the Supporters’ Shield winning Philadelphia Union on Sunday evening.
While both the Union and Crew impressed in the Round of 16 in the CONCACAF Champions League, each advancing with an aggravate score of 5-0, Sunday’s season opener will be the first glimpse soccer fans have of either powerhouse in league play.
Columbus Crew: N/A
Philadelphia Union: N/A
The Union will take to the pitch with a very different starting lineup this season after multiple key players were sold overseas following their successful 2020 campaign. On the contrary, the Crew return with much of the same roster that saw the Black & Gold hoist the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy last December, alongside a bolstered depth with signing like Bradley Wright Phillips and Kevin Molino.
Depth on the roster aside, historic Crew Stadium has earned the moniker of “The Fortress” due to Columbus’ resilience at home. As such, it should come as no surprise, the oddsmakers are calling for a very merry “Crewsmas” for the locals. The Black & Gold are heavily favored to continue their streak of dominance in MLS to begin the year, with oddsmakers making the Crew a -109 favorite against Philadelphia’s +300 odds. The likelihood of a draw earns slightly better odds than a Union win on the road at +270.
The reigning MLS Cup champions face a tough start to this MLS season. Following the season opener against the Union, Columbus must shift focus from league competition to a daunting Champions League quarterfinals, hosting Liga MX powerhouse C.F. Monterrey. After two home games, the Black & Gold return to the road, where the club notoriously struggled to capture a single win in the 2020 campaign.
Fans witnessed the importance of a strong start to the season, with Columbus’ hot streak through the first half of the 2020 campaign carrying the club into the MLS Cup playoffs despite an injury-ridden midseason. Surely, the Crew will look to prove the oddsmakers correct in Week 1, and kick off its title defense with three big points when two of the best in the Eastern Conference collide.