Among professional sports leagues in the US, Major League Soccer (MLS) is the youngest. It was founded in 1993 as part of the United States' bid to host the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
MLS began with only ten teams. The first season was played in 1996. Today, the league has grown to 19 teams - 16 in the US and three in Canada.
An MLS Season begins in March and lasts until December. Teams are divided into the Eastern and Western Conference with each team playing 34 regular season games. The top five teams in each conference qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs. The season culminates with the MLS Cup - the league's version of the championship game.
It's generally understood that about half of all games end in home wins - another quarter end in draws - and the rest are away wins. This is true across nearly all professional leagues. Home advantage is real.
A common method of forecasting is to look at the previous match results during the current season - and perhaps last season too - in order to estimate chances of a result.
Another complicating factor is the rivalry. Matches between fierce rivals usually are hard fought affairs simply because both sets of fans demand the best from their players against "the enemy". MLS has the following Rivalry Cups:
Generally the effect is that the natural home advantage is actually negated to a large degree. It might not make sense but it's true - the visiting team is more motivated that it is able to overcome a hostile crowd.
Another popular method looks at recent form rather than season long form. The idea is that a team that's been winning recently builds confidence and perhaps has also recovered from injury woes. On the other hand, a losing side lacks the fight required to get a result.
This is somewhat true - but other patterns emerge - especially from mid-table sides which by definition are a bit inconsistent. So if a average side is on a good or bad run then it is no surprise to see them suddenly turn it around.
Injuries and suspensions can also have a big impact on a side. But some players are more important than others and generally defense matters more than attack.
Goalkeepers and center defenders are key to winning. If one of these is missing then it's a big warning. Also important is the team captain. A missing captain is a sign of a leaderless side.
Please remember that there is always a risk involved in MLS betting. So do not bet the rent money or the college education fund - no matter how sure you think the winner is.
As an old betting adage goes - "do not bet using money that you can't afford to lose."
Don't forget to have fun when you are betting on MLS games. The more serious you take it, the less likely you are to get anything out of the experience.
If you enjoy the experience, the exhilaration of cheering for your chosen team - no matter which - and boasting that you knew best... then you are more likely to have fun!
Before placing a bet on your chosen MLS team, ask your self these questions:
Thoughful answers to these questions provide you a clearer picture on which MLS team to bet on.