Matchday 32: What to know, how to watch on MLS Season Pass


Matchday 32 sees nearly every MLS team return to action after last weekend's lighter-than-usual schedule during the September international window.

Western Conference: Somehow the log jam between places two and 13 continues to tighten. Four points separate second from eighth, as well as ninth from 13th.

Eastern Conference: Two distinct races continue to take shape. The first is for a top-four playoff seed – which would secure home-field advantage in Round One – and every team from the New England Revolution (second place) to Nashville SC (seventh place) sits on the bubble. The second is for a Wild Card spot, which each team from CF Montréal (eighth place) to Inter Miami CF (14th place) still has a chance at.

Nashville are the loan team on a bye.

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.
The Big Three

Atlanta United vs. Inter Miami CF

Lionel Messi's second rematch of his MLS tenure comes against another rival from the South, but this time it's Atlanta United and their high-flying attack with a shot at redemption rather than Nashville and their impenetrable defense. The Five Stripes will look to ride the momentum of a potentially 70,000+ crowd (that, much like in Messi's recent trip to LA, is sure to be filled with stars and celebrities) and improve upon the 4-0 beatdown they took from the Herons in Leagues Cup.

The match's star power won't just be limited to the stands, though. Beyond Miami's usual suspects (Messi, Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, homegrown star Benjamin Cremaschi, etc...), Atlanta will welcome the return of their own prolific playmaker, Thiago Almada, from the Argentine national team. Almada will look to combine with Giorgos Giakoumakis (also returning from national team duty) and prove their one-two punch is as threatening as any in the league.

Possibly more important than attacking stats is which team can hold it together at the back. Atlanta have conceded the second-most goals of any team this season, and Miami have looked vulnerable when teams like FC Dallas and FC Cincinnati (scorers of four and three, respectively, against the Herons) hit them on the break.

New York City FC vs. New York Red Bulls

NYCFC and RBNY have encountered the opposite problem of Atlanta and Miami; they can't score enough goals. Both teams have gotten virtually no production from the striker position on the year and sit in the bottom four league-wide for total goals scored.

That doesn't mean this afternoon edition of the Hudson River Derby will lack excitement, though. Beyond the usual added stakes of a cross-city rivalry, both teams sit neck and neck in the Eastern Conference standings, each within five points of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs line. If one side can grab all three points on Saturday, they'll significantly boost their own playoff chances while all but snuffing the hopes of their opponent.

LAFC vs. LA Galaxy

Another massive derby caps Saturday's action. But unlike in New York, one of the teams in El Tráfico (LAFC) is safely in the playoff picture.

The Galaxy, however, remain in a desperate scrap for points as they try to climb out of 13th place in the West towards a Wild Card spot. Only four points below the line with games in hand on many of the teams above them, the road to postseason action is daunting but not impossible. They just need to trade draws (fourth most in the Western Conference) for wins, and keep Riqui Puig (10 goal contributions in last 10 matches) cooking.

And while LAFC may be in the safer position of the two sides, they've got challenges of their own. Losers of three straight, Steve Cherundolo has officially declared the team in a "rut" and says "the only way out of this is to put our heads down and work hard."

Quick Passes

Charlotte FC vs. D.C. United

There's an argument to be made that Charlotte FC, only three points below the playoff line with two games in hand on ninth-place D.C. United, are the most slept-on team in the Eastern Conference Wild Card race. They can't technically vault D.C. for the last playoff spot with a win on Saturday (due to the most-wins tiebreaker), but they can cement their status as dark horses to sneak in by year's end.

CF Montréal vs. Chicago Fire FC

In another matchup between Wild Card hopefuls, CF Montréal will look to pad the three-point gap between themselves and 10th-place Chicago. Both teams are coming off a string of poor results (especially Chicago), but perhaps Xherdan Shaqiri can provide a boost to his side after returning from an emotional international window that saw him play for Switzerland (where he was raised) against Kosovo (where he was born).

Orlando City SC vs. Columbus Crew

This one goes in the "race for the top four of the Eastern Conference" category. Outside of Supporters' Shield runaways FC Cincinnati, these two teams have likely been the best in the league since roughly June (only two regular-season losses each over that time). But thanks to the depth of quality in their conference, neither has a firm grip on home-field advantage in Round One.

A clash of styles will also be at play here, with the Crew holding the best goals-per-game mark in the league and Orlando sitting top five in goals against per game. Read more on Columbus' high-flying attack in Charles Boehm's must-read feature from earlier this week.

Philadelphia Union vs. FC Cincinnati

FC Cincinnati remain in the driver's seat for the Supporters' Shield but have cooled off (if only a little) since the League Cup break. The Union will look to take advantage and prove they're still the team to beat out East.

A win for Philly could vault Jim Curtin's side into second place, only increasing the odds this clash becomes an Eastern Conference Final preview.

Toronto FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Toronto FC are coming off a win for the first time since May! Their 3-1 shocker over the Philadelphia Union provided hope that a coherent team can still be built around Italian superstars Federico Bernardeschi and Lorenzo Insigne.

Still, this match is all about Vancouver, who, with games in hand on every team ahead of them, have more than a puncher's chance at finishing second in the Western Conference. Positive results over their last three matches have validated a summer transfer window shakeup that saw Julian Gressel leave and Sam Adekugbe, Richie Laryea and Junior Hoilett enter.

FC Dallas vs. Seattle Sounders FC

Alan Velasco needs to perform like the Argentina international prospect he is for Dallas to recover from their summer slump (3W-7L-2D in regular-season play dating back to June).

Cristian Roldan may return to the Sounders' lineup for first the time since July, possibly providing clarity on what's become an ever-murkier attacking depth chart for Brian Schmetzer through the summer.

Houston Dynamo FC vs. St. Louis CITY SC

If St. Louis can become only the third team to beat Houston at Shell Energy Stadium in 2023, it may be time to transition their narrative from regular-season Cinderellas to serious MLS Cup threats. With João Klauss and Edüard Lowen fully healthy again, there's never been a better moment for them to make a statement.

Minnesota United FC vs. Sporting Kansas City

Sporting KC's season may be hanging by a thread, but fans can feel better about the future after the club extended the Designated Player contract of Alan Pulido on Thursday. Whether or not that morale boost will be enough to slow down MNUFC and their new secret weapon in attack, Dayne St. Clair, remains to be seen.

Colorado Rapids vs. New England Revolution

The elephant – or "baloney," depending on your perspective – in the room here is nearly the entire first-team Revolution coaching staff has exited following Bruce Arena's resignation on Saturday. That's not the first bit of adversity to hit the second-place Revs this season, but it may be the most destabilizing.

Colorado have their own off-field challenges as supporters voice their displeasure, and they'll have interim coach Chris Little steering the squad for the first time opposite Revs interim Clint Peay.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Real Salt Lake

What's going on with San Jose? Some head-turning offseason moves – including hiring Luchi Gonzalez as head coach and adding d-mid Carlos Gruezo as a DP – were enough to spark optimism in NorCal, and early-season returns were promising. But a disappointing 2W-4L-4D record since late June in league play has dropped them to a Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, and they're in danger of falling out of the playoff picture altogether if their form doesn't turn.

Austin FC vs. Portland Timbers

These two teams may be tied in points, sitting just below the playoff line, but they're worlds apart in terms of form, with Portland revving to life since parting ways with head coach Gio Savarese and Austin earning just one point in their last four outings. Keep an eye out for more fireworks from Portland's DP Evander, who's experiencing his own late-season revival.