Charlotte FC's Chances at the MLS Cup

Mon, Feb 26, 2024
by CapperTek

The new kids on the block, Charlotte FC, have defied expectations in their inaugural MLS season. After a rocky start, the North Carolina club has found its footing and now sits third in the Eastern Conference standings.

With about a third of the season left to play, Charlotte FC is well-positioned to qualify for the playoffs. And once in the postseason, anything can happen. So what are the chances Charlotte goes on a surprise championship run in this, their first year of existence? Let's break it down.

Path to the Playoffs

While far from secure, Charlotte FC is currently in line to make the seven-team playoffs in the East. Key games remain against conference foes like New York City FC, Orlando City, and the Columbus Crew.

If Charlotte can maintain or improve upon their current form, they should have enough points to get into that knockout round. And from there, all bets are off.

Big Test Against Messi and Miami

An intriguing late-season matchup sees Charlotte hosting Eastern giants Inter Miami and global superstar Lionel Messi. The game offers a prime opportunity for the fledgling franchise to prove they belong in the MLS elite.

Online sportsbooks will surely roll out special North Carolina betting promos around this marquee matchup. For home bettors, expect attractive odds on not just the money line and Over/Under, but a range of game and player prop bets.

If Messi’s magic has Miami as road favorites, a win could see courageous Charlotte backers cash in at upwards of +300 on the money line. The Over/Under also presents an interesting wager, given both teams’ occasional defensive lapses. A high-scoring affair would surely please the crowd — and sting local bookmakers.

How the Playoffs Shape Up

Should Charlotte hold off the likes of Cincinnati and New England for one of the final playoff places, their first test would come away from the friendly confines of Bank of America Stadium. But the playoff structure offers chances for upsets.

In the new bracket format, favorites like Philadelphia, Montreal, and NYCFC won’t benefit from a first-round bye. That means anyone can beat anyone in a one-off knockout game. Even the mighty LAFC once lost a home playoff match to Real Salt Lake.

If Charlotte can recapture that early-season magic that saw them shock the league, they have enough attacking dynamos like Karol Świderski to threaten the East’s aristocracy. Remember, season spoilers like Atlanta United and Toronto FC have reached the MLS Cup final as low seeds. So it’s not beyond the realm that Coach Christian Lattanzio has Charlotte peaking at the perfect time to deliver playoff upsets from the first round through a shock MLS Cup run.

The Verdict

While Relative newcomers rarely take home league titles in year one, Charlotte FC looks well-positioned to play spoiler this postseason. Strong performances in closing regular season matches, plus a statement result against visiting juggernaut Miami, would see the club enter the playoffs brimming with belief.

If the cards fall right, this incarnation of Charlotte FC may just be the next big MLS Cinderella story. So for hopeful locals, it might be worth throwing some money down on the plucky home side shocking the league. The potential payouts could be momentous if Coach Lattanzio can guide the team on a historic championship run.