Heading into the final stretch of the MLS season, 2021 MLS Cup champion New York City FC is in good position to repeat.

The MLS All-Stars topped the Liga MX All-Star team with goals from Carlos Vela and Raul Ruidiaz on Wednesday, and now the 28 clubs are embarking on the final one-third of the season.

Los Angeles FC is in control in the Western Conference and in prime position to win the Supporters’ Shield for most regular season points in the season. In the Eastern Conference, Philadelphia has 45 points and leads NYC FC by three but have played 24 games as opposed to The Bronx Blues’ 23.

The New York Red Bulls have 37 points, good enough for fourth in the East behind Montreal (40 points).

NYC FC Will Likely Have to Beat Philadelphia

The Pigeons have been on a strong run since mid-April, going 11-2 with 5 draws in their last 18 matches. Problem for NYC FC is that one of those losses was to Philadelphia, dropping their season mark to 0-2 against the Union. New York’s goal differential in that span is +20, so there’s plenty of good things happening for the Blues, but they will likely have to get past Philadelphia is they want to reach their second-straight MLS Cup.

Goalkeeper Sean Johnson made the All-Star team and has rattled off 12 clean sheets in 23 starts. He leads MLS in that category and has given up 24 goals for a goals-conceded average of just 1.04, tied for second in the league behind Philadelphia’s Andre Black.

The best player on offense for NYC FC this year has been Valenin “Taty” Castellanos, who has scored 13 goals in 17 matches and is tied for third in MLS. He was loaned to Girona, however, so he won’t be able to repeat his MLS Cup MVP performance this fall. Santiago Rodriguez has 10 assists and is among the league leaders in that category.

What About the Red Bulls?

The Red Bulls lost just twice in their first 12 games, but they are 5-5-2 in their last dozen. Last year, the club slumped during the summer as well but rallied in their final 12 to finish 7-1-4 and make the playoffs. This year, they are also a strong 7-3-3 on the road, which will suit them well in the playoffs because their matches are likely to all be away from Red Bull Arena.

Another positive development for the Red Bulls was signing right back Kyle Duncan back on loan from K.V. Oostende from Beligum’s top soccer league. Duncan had five goals and 10 assists with the Red Bulls from 2018-21 and is very familiar with the Red Bulls’ system and style of play.

2022 MLS Cup Futures Odds

Here are the latest futures odds for the 2022 MLS Cup champions from Caesars Sportsbook.

Los Angeles FC+200
New York City FC+725
Philadelphia Union+725
Austin FC+1100
New York Red Bulls+1400
CF Montreal+1400
FC Dallas+2200
Nashville SC+2200
Columbus Crew+2500
Minnesota United+2500
Toronto FC+2500
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