Despite losing three starters from last year’s MLS Cup and likely playing the entire season without Jordan Morris, the math-based prognosticators at FiveThirtyEight.com have installed the Seattle Sounders as the second-favorites to win both the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup. The Sounders are projected to finish with a +22 goal-difference and claim 60 points while being given a 12% chance of winning the league title.
If this feels a bit overly optimistic, you surely have company. The projections seem a bit all-over-the-board, as the Philadelphia Union lost arguably even more talent than the Sounders and are considered third favorites, while the Columbus Crew are way down at 11th despite being the defending champions and adding talent over the offseason.
Most likely, 538 is not looking at the individual players as much as the collective metrics from last year. The Sounders were very good by most advanced metrics, leading the league in Expected goal-difference by about 8 and and posting the second best actual goal-difference.
It should be said, though, that the betting markets also seem to like the Sounders’ chances. OddsChecker.com shows the Sounders as second favorites — also to LAFC — across a variety of online sportsbooks. The best value anyone is offering on the Sounders is +1000 — which is effectively 10-to-1 — but most books have them at +700 or lower.