We're at the doorstep of teams completing one-third of their 2023 regular season. It's flying by.
The below blurbs hopefully provide a quick something to focus on for all 14 games this Saturday and Sunday. Be sure to check out Matt Doyle's Matchday 11 preview column as well.
As always, the below info is your quick-hit viewing guide:
- Apple TV - Free = games are free to watch; all you need is an Apple ID.
- Apple TV - MLS Season Pass = an MLS Season Pass subscription is required.
- Tune into the MLS 360 whip-around show for live look-ins and analysis of all the key moments from every match.
- MLS Countdown is your lead-in and MLS Wrap-Up comes at the end of the night.
Charlotte FC vs. New York City FC
- WATCH: Apple TV - Free | Saturday, 7:30 pm ET
Can NYCFC finally get a road win? They’re 0W-3L-2D away this year, struggling beyond Yankee Stadium and Citi Field.
Related: Charlotte FC are just 1W-2L-2D at home this year. It’s been nowhere near good enough.
Something’s gotta give, right?
FC Cincinnati vs. D.C. United
D.C. United have three straight wins, surging with confidence as Wayne Rooney’s remade squad stacks results. Now comes a grueling part of their schedule, traveling to a Cincy side that’s second in the Supporters’ Shield race on a tiebreaker.
The likes of Christian Benteke, Mateusz Klich and Lewis O'Brien – all Premier League imports – are driving the Black-and-Red forward. Let’s see if they can corral the likes of Brandon Vazquez, Luciano Acosta and Obinna Nwobodo.
Inter Miami CF vs. Atlanta United
I wish this blurb could solely be about Josef Martínez, for the first time, facing the club where he rose to legendary status. But the ex-Atlanta United legend hasn’t scored for Inter Miami since his contract buyout (amid a messy/complicated divorce of sorts), and he’s been benched as of late. Plus, the most consequential Inter Miami story lies elsewhere.
Already down Gregore (foot injury) in central midfield, the Herons received difficult news earlier this week that Jean Mota is out long-term with a knee injury. Miss one? Hard enough. Miss both? Man, that’s a lot to weather. Without the Brazilian foundation, their central midfield is gutted.
Newcomer Dixon Arroyo seems like a solid player, and those like Benjamin Cremaschi have upside. But there’s a real worry Miami could become easy to play through in the most important area of the pitch. And their task this weekend requires limiting Thiago Almada & Co. Time to step up.
CF Montréal vs. Orlando City SC
Let’s give credit where it’s due: Montréal, quietly, have back-to-back wins. That’s commendable, especially given rampant injuries and losing six of their first seven games under Hernán Losada.
Where I’d push back slightly is Montréal beat Sporting KC and the Red Bulls, two of the league’s bottom-tier teams right now. Then again, our friends north of the border would rightly point out you can only beat who’s in front of you.
This is probably a long-winded way of saying that if Montréal beat Orlando at Stade Saputo this weekend, they could climb above the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs line and turn some heads. For the time being, they’re on an Eastern Conference-low nine points and aren’t out of the woods quite yet.
New York Red Bulls vs. Philadelphia Union
New York, bottom of the Eastern Conference table, are facing deserved criticism right now. Let's not lose sight of the full context though.
Facing a Philly side that's possibly got heavy legs and a heavy heart after getting bounced by LAFC in the Concacaf Champions League semifinals? That seems like a great opportunity for the Red Bull Arena hosts to rebound, even while missing key players of their own.
San Jose Earthquakes vs. LAFC
San Jose are expecting a huge crowd at Levi's Stadium, welcoming the defending Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup champions who just progressed to their second Concacaf Champions League final in four years. It should be blockbuster stuff.
Be sure to closely watch San Jose striker Jeremy Ebobisse, though. In 10 career matches against LAFC, his six goals are the second-most by a single opposing player in the visitor's brief six-year history. Only ex-LA Galaxy star Zlatan Ibrahimović has scored more goals against LAFC, tallying eight goals in five matchups against the crosstown rival.
Toronto FC vs. New England Revolution
Let’s see if they can make find some consistency against a Revs side that’s leading the league and regularly finding solutions, no matter who’s available on game day. New England will be tested again, knowing star winger Dylan Borrero is out for 2023 with an ACL tear.
FC Dallas vs. St. Louis CITY SC
St. Louis, after their record-setting start to life in MLS, have one win in their last five (1W-3L-1D). Are teams starting to figure them out tactically? Is the brief injury-related absence of João Klauss to blame? A combination of those two and other factors?
Whatever the reason is, Dallas are looking to capitalize on the lull in form. And it sure helps that club-record signing Alan Velasco is poised to return after a right knee sprain has kept the Argentine winger sidelined since mid-April.
Houston Dynamo FC vs. Real Salt Lake
The Ben Olsen era has come together quicker than most envisioned.
Nashville SC vs. Chicago Fire FC
LA Galaxy vs. Colorado Rapids
These are two of the Western Conference's bottom three teams. They've combined to win two of 19 games this year and have a negative-12 goal differential between them.
Portland Timbers vs. Austin FC
Cristhian Paredes was awesome for Portland last weekend, stepping in when David Ayala suffered a season-ending ACL injury. Can he build off that performance as the Timbers' depth becomes threadbare in midfield?
As for Austin, they haven't won since March 11 (nearly two months ago) and are 0W-3L-3D in their last six games. Whether it's their Sebastián Driussi over-dependency, injuries on defense or needing Brad Stuver to stand on his head, the Verde & Black's flaws are causing troubles.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Minnesota United FC
Unbeaten in seven games (2W-0L-5D), the Whitecaps just need the goals to follow suit now after being shut out in back-to-back games.
Minnesota? They're winless in four (0W-3L-1D) and similarly haven't scored in back-to-back games.
Seattle Sounders FC vs. Sporting Kansas City
- WATCH: Apple TV - Free, FOX | Sunday, 4:30 pm ET
If there's a repeat performance (or something close to it), we could be talking about SKC going 11 games winless to start 2023 (0W-7L-3D so far with three goals scored). Life with Sporting is not great right now. Fans are asking questions.