MLS: Previewing the 2023 MLS Cup Final between LAFC and Columbus

darren cooper
By:
Darren Cooper
07/12/2023/
MLS

Highlights

  • LAFC takes on the Columbus Crew in the 2023 MLS Cup Final Saturday at 4 p.m. with the game free on Apple TV.
  • LAFC is seeking to become just the fourth MLS franchise to repeat as Cup champions. The last team to repeat was the LA Galaxy in 2011-12.
  • Columbus, one of MLS’ original franchises, won the Cup in 2008 and 2020. The Crew is slight favorites at sportsbooks.

The 2023 Major League Soccer season concludes Saturday in Columbus – no, Messi is not expected to be there.

While the incomparable Lionel Messi gave the MLS a huge attendance (and publicity boost over the summer, his Miami team didn’t make the playoffs. It comes down to a pair of steady franchises, the young LAFC, just in its sixth season and the Columbus Crew, who are one of the original franchises in the league.

The teams have never met for the MLS Cup before, and didn’t play in the regular season.

Soccer is big at Michigan sportsbooks where you can place a wager on leagues around the globe. They also have many markets on the MLS Cup. PointsBet has the Crew -160 to win the MLS Cup, BetMGM has the Crew at -150 and DraftKings has the over/under on total goals at 2.25.

The Lowdown on LAFC 

LAFC is the defending champions, after winning one of the best soccer matches you’ll ever see on penalties over Philadelphia with both teams scoring in extra time.

The Black and Gold went 14-10-10 in the regular season, earning the third seed in the Western Conference. They are the deepest team in MLS and led by Denis Bouanga who tallied 27 goals, and goalie Maxime Crepeau has posted three clean sheets in a row.

In the playoffs, LAFC swept Vancouver in the first round, eeked out a 1-0 win in Seattle and nipped favored Houston 2-0 in the semis, despite only having possession 30 percent of the match. LAFC is a patient, experienced side.

Hail To The Crew 

Columbus is one of America’s soccer-mad cities and Lower.com Field sold out quickly for the MLS Final. The Crew play a fan-pleasing high-pressure style that led MLS with 67 regular season goals.

Coach Wilfried Nancy’s club lost star Lucas Zelaryan to the Saudi League this summer, but replenished its coffers by signing former LAFC star and 2020 MLS Golden Boot winner Diego Rossi. He’s scored eight goals in the last seven games.

Columbus had to go three games to beat Atlanta in the first round of MLS Playoffs, then beat Orlando 2-0. In the semis, they trailed rival FC Cincinnati 2-0 at halftime, but scored two goals in the second half, then Christian Ramirez (another former LAFC star) scored the game winner at 115.

Head To Head 

Both teams were the third seed in their respective conferences. Both are called The Black and Gold. Both had to run through a gauntlet to get here. It should be a classic style vs. style match. The Crew will look to attack, while LAFC will be patient and be ready to pounce.

Soccer betting is slightly different than football and basketball because a draw/tie is always an option. There will be markets on both teams to score (a very popular bet), the score after 15 minutes and goal scorers.

Because of various club tournaments, this will be the 53rd match of the season for LAFC. That fatigue might just be enough to tip the scales to the Crew at home.

Born and raised in Louisiana, Darren Cooper has a fond appreciation for bayous, Mardi Gras beads and the sports betting industry. Darren has worked for multiple print and online publications since 1998, primarily as a sports columnist in the Northeast. He’s covered a Super Bowl (it was a blowout), the World Series (same) and the NBA Draft (man, those guys are tall). For the last few years he’s dug deep into the sports gambling industry as it exploded across America, learning how the legal sausage is made and how while all the sportsbooks look the same, they all have different identities and styles. He’s learned to always bet within his means -- and take the under. When not in front of his computer creating, Darren spends time with his three boys. He runs, reads and is always looking for the next big thing to write about.