Can Eastern Conference Go Back-To-Back and Win The 2021 MLS Cup?
The 2021 Major League Soccer (MLS) regular season is in the home stretch, making it very difficult not to look ahead and start comparing the two conferences and which has the better chance to win the MLS Cup.
Last year, Columbus Crew won against the 2019 champions, Seattle Sounders, and reclaimed the title for the Eastern Division. But can the East do it again, or will the West rise up and snatch the trophy for themselves?
Last year you could argue that the West was stronger and should have won the MLS Cup, though Columbus Crew proved emphatic winners in the end. This year, the race for the coveted title seems very close, with solid contenders on both sides; however, there are really only two Eastern teams that you can trust to end the season with the trophy in their hands.
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All Eyes on New England Revolution
New England Revolution emerged as the Eastern Division’s biggest hope of retaining the MLS Cup. The Revs are also one of the favorites to win the MLS Cup, priced at +550 on BetOnline.
The short MLS odds on the Revs shouldn’t be too surprising for any MLS fans. Bruce Arena certainly knows how to lead teams through the playoffs, and while he hasn’t hoisted the trophy since 1997, the 69-year-old strategist now has the right players under him to make it happen again.
Led by Carles Gil, the Revs have one of the best rosters in the league and the numbers to back that up. By now, it’s very clear that the Revolution will be the East’s top seed. This largely has to do with their impressive home record, backed by solid showings on the road.
The Revs have all the tools needed to win the MLS Cup, and the Online Sportsbooks would confirm that, but there is something about East’s top seeds heading into the playoffs that could make you second-questions yourself whether they can do it and go all the way.
Since 2008, only one club that topped the Eastern Conference has made it to the MLS Cup. The only exception was the unstoppable Toronto FC in 2017.
There is no way of explaining why East’s top seeds underperform, but there’s no escaping the fact that eight of 12 Eastern top-seeded teams crashed out of the playoffs in the first round.
Interestingly, a similar “curse” applies to Supporter’s Shields winners. Since 2004, only three regular-season champions have reached the title match.
Can Orlando City SC Do it?
If the aforementioned curse doesn’t concern you, New England Revolution are a solid team to cheer on, definitely a great betting pick to win the MLS Cup 2021. However, if the black magic – or whatever is preventing Eastern top seeds from succeeding – is not something you want to deal with, backing Orlando City SC might be more up your alley.
Priced as the fourth favorite to win the MLS Cup 2021 on most sportsbooks, Orlando City SC are not a team you would want to sleep on. Still, we’re going back to the narrative that stuck with Orlando as a team that has “yet to show what they’re capable of.”
That might sound like an excuse Orlando fans would use to explain why their team hasn’t managed to catch up to the New England Revolution, but we’re here to tell you that that isn’t the case.
Orlando City have been playing well over the season, and while they’re still double-digits short of the New England Revolution in the Eastern Conference, they might be deliberately playing at half of their strength to avoid the “curse.” Jokes aside, Orlando City are a strong team and are rounding into form just at the right time.
Much of that has to do with the return of Daryl Dike, who is fit and ready to help Orlando compete for their first MLS Cup. What’s more, the former AC Milan superstar Alexandre Pato seems to be getting fit just in time for the stretch drive.
If Dike and Pato can show up, we might be seeing an entirely different side of Orlando City in the playoffs. Obviously, not everything will rely on the two stars, as Óscar Pareja has plenty of other talented players at his disposal to make some noise in the postseason.
While we can praise Orlando for what they can achieve, we must also realize that the Lions will need to flip a switch and start delivering, which might be easier said than done. They have the potential to be great, but as it stands now, that’s all Orlando City SC can offer.
With Nani injured, Chris Mueller struggling with his form, and uncertainty surrounding Uri Rosell’s return, there are many questions about Orlando SC’s chances to live up to the hype and hoist the trophy.
If the Lions can get it together, they might have a chance. Still, they would have to find a way to defeat the Revs, who have had their number over the regular season.