Matchday 31: What to know, how to watch on MLS Season Pass 

MD31 setup - Apple TV - 9.8.23

Matchday 31 features an abbreviated slate, as only 10 teams square off during the September international window – yet the stakes are higher than ever.

Western Conference

Between third place and 12th place, nobody is separated by more than two points from the team directly ahead or behind them in the standings. Quickly, teams can take drastic leaps or falls.

Eastern Conference

Two separate races, both equally compelling, have taken form.

  1. New England Revolution (second place) to Nashville SC (seventh place) features teams who are already relatively safe in their postseason aspirations, but are fighting for home-field advantage in Round One and beyond.
  2. CF Montréal (eighth place) to Inter Miami CF (14th place) features most of the bottom half of the conference scrapping it out for Wild Card spots (awarded to the eighth and ninth-place finishers).

Given the relatively light schedule, we're breaking from our usual format and instead highlighting what's at stake in each of these five consequential fixtures.

When pulling up MLS Season Pass on Apple TV, here's how to navigate the options:

  • Apple TV - Free = games are free to watch; you only need 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 every match's key moments.
  • MLS Countdown is your lead-in, and MLS Wrap-Up comes at night's end.

Inter Miami CF vs. Sporting Kansas City

What's at stake: Completing historic turnarounds

Miami's attempt to climb out of the Eastern Conference basement has been well-documented. Winless in 11 matches before Lionel Messi's arrival, any sort of Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs push felt like a pipedream, even with the GOAT on board. But the Herons are undefeated since then, and if they maintain their red-hot form, they have a great chance of sneaking in – especially with two games in hand on most of the teams above them.

But missing eight potential starters (including Messi) will make this Tata Martino's toughest test yet, and one that may ultimately decide their season.

Speaking of winless streaks, Sporting Kansas City had a 10-game run of their own to kick off the season. The fact they could now climb into a playoff spot with a win is nearly as miraculous as Miami's turnaround – and due in no small part to an excellent comeback season from star striker Alan Pulido.

D.C. United vs. San Jose Earthquakes

What's at stake: Breathing room above the playoff line

Both these teams are barely hanging onto their respective conferences' Wild Card spots. A win for either would put them at least four points clear of the playoff line, regardless of results elsewhere on Saturday. Keep an eye out for Christian Benteke to keep up his scoring form after he broke out of a slump in last Saturday's 4-0 win over Chicago Fire FC.

Portland Timbers vs. LAFC

What's at stake: Changing the narrative

As Matt Doyle pointed out in his Thoughts & Numbers column, there's chatter that LAFC have lost the plot a bit after last year's historic multi-trophy season and that they now rely too heavily on counter-attacking for chance creation.

Portland are trying to prove they're still in contention after most labeled their season as over once they parted ways with longtime head coach Giovanni Savarese. Only four points beneath the playoff line out West, a win would go a long way to validating that mission.

LA Galaxy vs. St. Louis CITY SC

What's at stake: The chance to meet again

Well before Decision Day (Oct. 21), St. Louis could put a bow on their historic expansion season with the Western Conference's No. 1 seed. LA would love nothing more than to snag the Western Conference's final Wild Card spot. If both accomplish their goals (and LA advance past the Wild Card game) they'd play again in Round One.

If all that sounds like a lot of ifs, keep in mind how LA have been red-hot in league play since early July (4W-1L-1D) and have two games in hand on nearly all the teams above them. Meanwhile, St. Louis are finally rounding into full health.

Both clubs ending the season on hot streaks, only to face each other early in the playoffs, is a very real possibility.

Minnesota United FC vs. New England Revolution

What's at stake: Cementing their places

The Revolution are all but assured a playoff spot, and, despite the continued absence of head coach/sporting director Bruce Arena (administrative leave), they've maintained a hold on the Eastern Conference's No. 2 spot.

Minnesota, meanwhile, have finally completed an arduous climb above the Western Conference's Wild Card line.

Both teams will want to hold onto their valuable real estate and even create some distance between themselves and those nipping at their heels.