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June 10, 2019

MLS Title Odds: Who Will Win the 2019 MLS Cup? (UPDATED)

High Press 10 June 10, 2019

Updated: June 10th, 2019

With the MLS on a Gold Cup sabbatical, now is a good time to re-examine 2019 MLS Cup futures.

Despite a recent resurgence, reigning champs Atlanta United have fallen from pre-season favorites of +500 to +900. Last year’s Supporters’ Shield winner for best regular-season record, New York Red Bulls, dropped even further, going from +550 to +1600.

LAFC, who started the year at +700, are no prohibitive favorites at +200. They’re followed by Zlatan-led LA Galaxy (+750), the aforementioned ATL UTD, and NYCFC (+900). Eastern conference table-toppers Philadelphia Union have climbed from a pre-season +3300 to +1600.

The biggest risers from pre-season are San Jose. They’ve climbed from the cellar (+25000) to a respectable +6000.

See the below table for full 2019 MLS Cup futures. Also view MLS Cup odds at FanDuel Sportsbook NJ and DraftKings Sportsbook.

(Odds as of June 10th, 2019)

LAFC +200  LA Galaxy – +750 Atlanta United +900 NYCFC +900
DC United +1400  New York Red Bulls +1600 Seattle Sounders +1600  Philadelphia Union +1600 
Montreal Impact +1600 Columbus Crew +2400  Houston Dynamo +2400 FC Dallas +3100 
Sporting KC +3100 Toronto FC +3100 Portland Timbers +3400 Minnesota United +5000  
Orlando City +5000  San Jose Earthquakes +6000 Chicago Fire +9500 Real Salt Lake +9500
Vancouver Whitecaps +11000 Colorado Rapids +12000 New England Revolution +12000 FC Cincinnati +20000

USMNT Panic Mode: Confidence in Gregg Berhalter’s System Begins to Dissipate

Avatar June 10, 2019

We’re back in USMNT Panic Mode.

Gregg Berhalter’s US, not long ago a beacon of optimism, have lost a pair of ugly friendlies and looked bad and unpromising in the process. The much-heralded System has taken a hit as Berhalter deals with a huge and largely unimpressive player pool. Faith in Berhalter among an exasperated and pessimistic fan base is eroding already.

Disastrous friendly results erodes confidence

The US capitulated against Venezuela in the final pre-Gold Cup friendly, and fell flat in a 1-0 loss to Jamaica’s B-team a few days prior. The 3-0 loss to Venezuela was arguably the ugliest of the entire post-Trinidad Dark Ages.

At this point, it’s hard to see the US making much of a dent at the upcoming Gold Cup. Berhalter’s tactical ideas, while well-thought-out, might not fit the player pool.

We’ve learned that implementing a complex system and tactical identity at the international level is nearly impossible, and only a few of the world’s best managers have accomplished it. For the US to rebound and win competitive games, Berhalter has to find a balance between his preferred identity (which is positive and smart!) and a certain pragmatism.

The System isn’t working

A troubling trend, though: The System hasn’t worked all that well yet. Clearly, it wasn’t enough to avoid a pair of terrible losses against teams the US should beat. Players look confused and passive. The personnel has been lacking — the Wil Trapp USMNT experience needs to end — and even the players who should be playing at this level (Paul Arriola, for example) haven’t played well. Berhalter pulled some Klinsmann-esque excuses out of his hat.

Managers have to approach their jobs with an eye toward maximizing the players they have at their disposal. It’s fair to question, early in the process, whether Berhalter is doing that. We can’t be sure until we watch them in the Gold Cup (and maybe not even then), but perhaps the US isn’t built to play with high-volume possession, or re-press with the sort of energy Berhalter desires.

Venezuela and Jamaica controlled play and had little trouble infiltrating the US’s midield. Without ball-winners in midfield — in addition to the presence of Trapp, who can not defend at the international level — Berhalter’s team rarely won possession in good areas. The game in general looked difficult for overmatched US squads.

Those friendlies do not inspire much confidence. They indicate future issues with a tactical approach that may be too complex to be workable at the international level, especially for a player pool that has struggled with it.

Is it the System or the players?

Perhaps things will be different when Tyler Adams, Christian Pulisic, Jozy Altidore, and Michael Bradley play. The US played an experimental lineup against Jamaica. We know already that Berhalter is a smart, cerebral coach who has a vision for this national team, and is unlikely to commit further Klinsmann sins. Calls for patience are not unwarranted.

It’s okay to still be optimistic that Berhalter will figure things out and put the US on the path he so clearly envisions. There are young players who will fill the many gaps of the Lost Generation (the effects of which plague the current team). Berhalter — we can hope — understands the flaws of his approach and will soften his emphasis on Guardiola tactics.

A balance has to be found. The Gold Cup approaches fast.

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