Betting Special: LA Galaxy the team to beat in MLS

With the American season all set to kick off, Al Hain-Cole takes a look at which teams will be in the running when the championship trophy is handed out in December
The American season gets back underway this weekend, with LA Galaxy the team to beat as they look to collect both the Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup for a record fifth time.

Having surrendered the trophy that they had won for the previous two seasons last campaign, Bruce Arena's men are 11/2 (6.50) favourites with bet365 to regain the MLS Cup at the first attempt.

MLS Outright

Odds from bet365
LA Galaxy 11/2
NY Red Bulls/Sporting KC 6/1
Portland Timbers 7/1
Toronto FC 10/1
Real Salt Lake 11/1
Houston Dynamo 12/1
SJ Earthquakes/NE Revolution 16/1
With a largely unchanged squad headlined by star duo Landon Donovan and one of last season's MVP finalists, Robbie Keane - who has just put pen to paper on a contract extension - Los Galacticos will certainly take some stopping as they attempt to avenge last season's semi-final Western Conference exit against eventual runners-up Real Salt Lake.

The departure of club legend Jason Kreis has cast a shadow over the Claret-and-Cobalts' own ambitions of going one further in their first ever MLS season without the former striker at the helm, with odds of 11/1 (12.00) reflecting the challenge facing untested new boss Jeff Cassar.

After lifting the trophy for the first time in over a decade, holders Sporting Kansas City are available at 6/1 (7.00) to become just the fourth reigning champions to retain their title, with their busy schedule of Concacaf Champions League action providing a potential distraction.

New York Red Bulls delivered their first piece of silverware last season with a Supporters' Shield triumph and Thierry Henry and Co. are among the favourites at 6/1 (7.00) to be crowned champions this time out.

Portland Timbers took the league by storm under new boss Caleb Porter last season after finishing top of the Western Conference and are now touted at 7/1 (8.00) to build on that success by collecting their first ever MLS Cup victory.

This year's dark horses must be Toronto FC, whose high-profile acquisitions of Julio Cesar, Jermain Defoe and USA national team stalwart Michael Bradley have seen odds on them lifting the title tumble to 10/1 (11.00) despite never previously having even reached the play-offs in their short history.

Other outsiders include Houston Dynamo 12/1 (13.00), who fell one step short of third consecutive MLS Cup final appearance last season after a semi-final defeat to eventual champions Sporting KC, as well as an exciting young San Jose Earthquakes 16/1 (17.00) outfit and a New England Revolution 16/1 (17.00) side reinvigorated under manager Mark Watson.

LA Galaxy to win the MLS Cup for a 1pt stake at 11/2 (6.50) with bet365

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Al Hain-Cole is an experienced tipster and avid follower of European football. He specialises in accumulators and if you would like to read more from Al you can follow him on Twitter here.