Major League Soccer, MLS betting guide

MLS betting guide: How results differ from major European leagues

While European club football has a break over the summer, attention turns to Major League Soccer as the season nears its halfway point and we’ve produced a great MLS betting guide.

MLS results can be unpredictable – they rarely follow the same patterns as the big five European leagues.

MLS betting

To highlight some of the main differences, we have analysed the last 10 complete seasons of MLS action and compared results with the top divisions in England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France.

Back the home team

Home advantage exists in all competitions, but it is stronger in MLS than in the leading European leagues.

More than half (52%) of MLS games end in a home win, compared with around 45% of fixtures in the top five European leagues.

The vast distances that MLS teams have to travel compared to their European counterparts is almost certainly a factor.

At roughly 8,000 kilometres, the round trip for a single fixture between LA Galaxy and the New York Red Bulls is equivalent to the average distance travelled by clubs across six games during the UEFA Champions League group stage.

Clubs from the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 do not travel anywhere near as far for their domestic games.

Expect plenty of goals

MLS games have seen more goals on average in the last 10 seasons than every big European league except the Bundesliga, and MLS edges the German top flight for the highest share of matches in which both teams score (57%).

However, our MLS betting guide shows post-season games tend to be more cagey than league fixtures. While an average of 2.86 goals are scored in each game during the regular season, this drops to 2.51 in the play-offs.

Anyone can beat anyone

The MLS table is far more congested than the major European leagues, with fewer points separating top from bottom.

This is mainly because there are no standout teams – the previous 10 MLS campaigns have seen eight different clubs top the table at the end of the regular season.

The past 10 league winners have earned 1.96 points per game on average, compared with between 2.35 and 2.44 points per game in Europe’s top divisions.

The bottom club scored 0.71 points per game on average, the joint most with La Liga.

Don’t rule out a comeback

For those who like to bet in-game, MLS has delivered a higher proportion of second-half turnarounds than the big five leagues in Europe.

Around one in six matches have seen a side leading at half-time go on to lose their lead in the second 45 minutes, with the game ending in a draw or a defeat.

Don’t pay much attention to last year’s table

With the league being so tightly contested, MLS clubs are much less consistent than top European sides from season to season.

On average over the last 10 years, MLS sides have seen their points return rise or fall by 23% in the following campaign.

Clubs in the big five European leagues are more likely to match performances from the previous season, with points tallies changing by less than 20% on average.

You can’t buy success

The MLS stats show clubs with the most financial backing struggle to translate their spending power into success on the pitch.

There have only been two seasons in the last decade in which more than two of the five clubs with the largest wage bills ranked among the top five during the regular season.

Last year, Inter Miami spent the most on player salaries and failed to make the play-offs.

Vancouver Whitecaps made it to the post-season with the smallest wage bill in the league, at roughly half the size of Miami’s.

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MLS betting

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