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MLS Western Conference: A Three-Team Battle for the Top Spot

football stadium illustration viewed from above packed stands matchday

The MLS is getting stronger and stronger with each new season that takes place, with the Western Conference perhaps making that point evident in this campaign.

Many eyes worldwide have perhaps focused on the Eastern Conference and what Inter Miami are doing as they have the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and many other ex-Barcelona stars turning out for them. David Beckham’s franchise has certainly created an attraction, but America’s league has been growing for the last decade or so in terms of the quality that is being observed.

This can be seen in the West this season, as there is a huge battle at the top of the Conference between three teams.

Two from Los Angeles and one from Real Salt Lake

As of June 28, there is a three-way battle at the top of the Western Conference, with each team currently sitting on 37 points and only goal difference separating each of them.

LAFC currently occupy the top position in this table, as they have won the most games of the three (11 compared to 10). Real Salt Lake City have a better goal difference with a +2 differential, although they have an identical record to the Los Angeles Galaxy in terms of their win-loss-tie record.

Difficult to separate

When it comes to trying to separate these teams at this stage, it becomes extremely difficult to do so. Real Salt Lake have scored more goals than the two LA-based teams, having netted 40 compared to the 38 for the other two. They’ve conceded just 23 (the same as LAFC), whereas LA Galaxy have shipped 27.

With this in mind, it perhaps isn’t surprising that the bookmakers can’t separate them either. The latest MLS odds on Unibet Canada emphasize this point, as they have each of these teams close in terms of their prices. The two LA clubs are priced at +225, while it would seem they fancy Real Salt Lake to fall back in their pursuit with odds of +335.

Although the top eight teams will qualify for the postseason in one of the unique differences that the MLS has from many of the major football leagues worldwide, it certainly makes things more interesting.

Is there a benefit to winning the Western Conference?

Given the format of the MLS season, winning the Western (and Eastern) Conference can be beneficial.

Although it doesn’t necessarily benefit the Club in advancing in the postseason apart from being entered into Round One, it does secure them a place in the CONCACAF Champions Cup Round One. This is the equivalent of Europe’s UEFA Champions League, and South America’s CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores. Teams that finish high in their Conference can still qualify for the continental tournament, but they must be ranked among the best overall teams across the two Conferences.

Naturally, bragging rights can also be enjoyed, especially if one of the two teams from the same city that is competing for the title is victorious.

Plenty of MLS football to come

Watching Soccer on TV

It is worth noting that we’ve only just passed the halfway point of the 2024 MLS season, meaning that there is still plenty of soccer left to play before the postseason begins.

Anything can happen

As most football fans will know, it can only take a small blip in form for disaster to happen, or for another club to enjoy a purple patch in terms of their own success for everything to change.

Each of the three teams have started strongly, but injuries, suspensions, or even transfers can have a potentially negative impact on a team’s fortunes. International call-ups can also become an issue, which is something that may be experienced by some of these clubs over the next month, with the UEFA Euros 2024 and 2024 Copa America both taking place. Let’s not forget that the Olympics will also be happening, and players could end up being called up for that competition between July and August.

At the moment, there is a lot to look forward to for the remainder of the season and if the Western Conference can remain as competitive as it is with its three-way battle at the top continuing, fans will certainly have plenty to look forward to!