MLS Simulation Model: Best Bets For 2024 Season

After 10,000 simulations of every match, these futures stand out

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Matchday 1 of the 2024 MLS Season kicks off on Wednesday February 21 when Inter Miami and Real Salt Lake meet. The rest of the schedule will take place on Saturday and Sunday, so this is a perfect time to place some futures bets. We simulated every match of the season 10,000 times and identified multiple futures to invest in now to capture the most value. Take a look at them below and take advantage!

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Eastern Conference Winner Best Bet: Atlanta United (+1600, FanDuel)

One key factor in Atlanta United's favor is the presence of midfielder Thiago Almada, one of the league's standout players. As a World Cup winner on Argentina's Olympic team, Almada brings a wealth of experience and skill to the squad. Additionally, the team has secured the services of Giorgos Giakoumakis, one of the best forwards in the league.

While the departure of Miles Robinson may be seen as a setback, the acquisition of 28-year-old Stian Gregersen, a Norwegian international, promises to shore up the defense. The team has also bolstered its defensive midfield with the addition of Bartosz Slisz, a 24-year-old Polish international from Legia Warsaw. These reinforcements, combined with the new goalkeeper Josh Cohen, bring a fresh dynamic to the squad.

Despite defensive challenges in 2023, there is room for optimism in Atlanta's camp. With key additions in defense and midfield, the team aims to address its weaknesses. The strategy of dominating possession, evident in their 55.4% possession average in 2023, remains a core aspect of Atlanta's gameplay. The team's ability to control the pace and tempo of matches should play in their favor.

Our model projects Atlanta United to be a strong contender. The team aims not only to secure a playoff berth for the second consecutive season but also to finish in the top four, setting the stage for a serious challenge for some hardware. Barring injuries to Almada and the team’s other top players, Atlanta's well-rounded squad and strategic acquisitions position them as a promising bet for success in the Eastern Conference.

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Western Conference Winner Best Bet: Real Salt Lake (+1400, DraftKings)

Our model’s top Western Conference value strongly points towards Real Salt Lake, presenting an enticing opportunity with +1400 odds on DraftKings. Our projections position them at 55 points, just behind LAFC with 57 points in what’s expected to be a wide-open conference. Real Salt Lake stands as the eighth-favorite in terms of odds to clinch the Western Conference on DraftKings, highlighting how much of a value this is.

In the 2023 season, Real Salt Lake showcased consistency by finishing fifth in the Western Conference, aligning with their historical performance. They finished just three points back from third place in the West last season. Under the tactical guidance of Pablo Mastroeni, RSL has developed a resilient style. Remarkably, Real Salt Lake has been the only team in the league to make the playoffs in each of the past three years, showcasing their consistency and development under Mastroeni. 

A significant boost to Real Salt Lake's attacking prowess comes from the club-record summer transfer deal that brought in former LAFC striker Chicho Arango. Paired with breakout attacking midfield star Diego Luna, this dynamic duo adds an attacking dimension to RSL's gameplay. Expect to see some viral goals from these two this season! 

Key signings for the upcoming season, including Fidel Barajas, a promising 17-year-old Mexican youth international, Matt Crooks, an attacking midfielder with a prolific record in the English second division, and Alexandros Katranis, a former Greek youth international, demonstrate RSL's commitment to strengthening their squad.

Real Salt Lake's development, consistent playoff appearances, and strategic signings position them as a strong contender for the Western Conference title. With Mastroeni's proven leadership and the addition of key players, Real Salt Lake at +1400 DraftKings presents a compelling and well-supported bet.

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Supporters Shield Best Bet: Philadelphia Union (+1800, BetMGM) & MLS Cup Winner Best Bet: Philadelphia Union (+1200, DraftKings)

After 10,000 simulations of every match of the upcoming season, the best bet to win the Supporters Shield and MLS Cup both point emphatically towards the Philadelphia Union, who have exciting +1800 odds at BetMGM for the Supporters Shield and +1200 on DraftKings for the MLS Cup. Our model projects the Union to amass an impressive 69 points, positioning them as the top team in MLS. The Union's consistently strong performance makes them a compelling choice.

Like a well-oiled machine, Philadelphia is poised to maintain their excellence in the upcoming season. With no major losses and no significant signings, the team retains a starting lineup featuring players in their prime and promising young talents emerging from their development system. This continuity bodes well for team chemistry and cohesion, crucial elements for success in the demanding MLS landscape.

Under the guidance of coach Jim Curtin, the Union have a stable and supportive leadership. The noteworthy retention of Alejandro Bedoya, despite being 36, adds an invaluable veteran presence to the squad. While Bedoya may not shoulder the heavy lifting on the field like he did in the past, his continued presence addresses the desires of players who were vocal about wanting their captain back, contributing to a harmonious team environment.

Philadelphia boasts a solid and established backline anchored by Jacob Glesnes and Jack Elliot in the middle, complemented by fullbacks Kai Wagner and either Olivier Mbaizo or Nathian Harriel. The front line is equally impressive with scoring options like Daniel Gazdag, Mikel Uhre, and Julian Carranza. The wildcard in the equation is the continued development of Jack McGlynn, a U.S. Olympic hopeful and one of the top young American players in the league. If McGlynn can sustain his progress, it adds another layer of strength to an already formidable Philadelphia Union side.

With a projected 69 points (by far the best in our model), a cohesive and talented lineup, a respected coach, and a mix of experienced and emerging stars, the Union emerge as strong contenders for both the Supporters Shield and MLS Cup. The odds of +1800 on BetMGM for the Supporters Shield and +1200 on DraftKings for the MLS Cup make this bet not only a strategic one but also a potentially lucrative opportunity for those who recognize the Union's potential dominance in the upcoming season.

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MLS Cup Winner Fade: Inter Miami (+300, DraftKings)

Per our model, you should not buy into the hype surrounding Inter Miami, who have the shortest odds to win the MLS Cup on every book. According to our projections, Inter Miami is assessed as the 12th best MLS team, indicating a significant disparity between their odds and their projected performance. The primary factor contributing to their short odds is the presence of Lionel Messi, a global football legend, but the concern raised is the team's overreliance on his performance.

Inter Miami has made high-profile signings like Messi, Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, and Luis Suarez. While the star power is undeniable, uncertainties arise about how these legends will fare over a full season, particularly with the expectation that they'll shoulder much of the heavy lifting at their advanced ages. Despite Miami's strong performance upon Messi's arrival last season, the team faded down the stretch, highlighted by injuries and fatigue.

Notable concerns surround Suarez’s knee and promising young talents like Facundo Farias and Benja Cremaschi are dealing with significant injuries, thus making depth a major concern.

While Miami is anticipated to be an entertaining and successful team in the regular season, weaknesses such as a vulnerable defense, the team's aging core, and salary restrictions limiting potential moves are major red flags. While the star power could make them especially dangerous if they’re all healthy, our model is viewing them as a team to fade, especially at these short odds.