According to FanDuel Sportsbook, there are three teams poised to be favorites to win the “MLS Is Back” Tournament that is being played in Orlando. These teams are Los Angeles FC (+500), Atlanta United (+750) and the Seattle Sounders (+850). However, based on what we have seen so far, it’s unlikely that either of these three teams have the tools to go all the way.
Los Angeles FC conceded three goals in their opening match against the Houston Dynamo and looked like a different team with Carlos Vela out of the picture. Most of their issues are on defense, though, as they struggled to contain a below-average squad like Houston. They could struggle when facing tougher teams.
Meanwhile, the Sounders have looked out of sync and Atlanta is just one draw away from being eliminated in the first round. Few teams have looked convincing so far, but there is one squad that seems to have the tools to go all the way. That’s the Philadelphia Union (+1400 to win, per FanDuel Sportsbook).
The Union arrived into the tournament at near full strength, which already gives them a plus over other contending teams. Some of the squads poised to contend have either taken a step back -- Los Angeles Galaxy and New York City FC -- or have looked out of sync -- LAFC and Toronto FC.
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Toronto might be another side worth mentioning as a sleeper pick, but they are currently missing two key players in Jonathan Osorio and Jozy Altidore. That’s too much of a disadvantage in a short tournament. The same can be said about Atlanta, as they are without Josef Martinez for the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile, the Union have a fully fit side and have looked the part of a contender early on, winning their first two matches against New York City FC and Inter Miami. Philadelphia already clinched a spot in the knockout stages and anything can happen from there. They have shown enough poise and maturity to believe they can achieve big things in Florida.
Philadelphia has experience between the posts in Andre Blake, and a defensive line that is completely used to playing together. You can’t put a price on defensive cohesiveness, and the Union have that. That kind of knowledge already gives them a leg up over other contending squads.
Things get even better for the Union moving forward. Alejandro Bedoya and Jamiro Monteiro are two of the most consistent, underrated midfielders in the league right now, and both are the barometer of the team. Brenden Aaronson, who’s only 19-years-old, has provided a spark in the final third with his creativity and vision. In fact, he is already a member of the USMNT squad despite his age. That says a lot about his quality and potential, something he’s bound to show in this tournament.
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