Matchday 8 contains some top-end games.
Here’s a primer for what awaits, spanning from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon, via MLS Season Pass on Apple TV. All 14 games have no blackouts and multiple commentary options, while the below info is your quick-hit 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, returning to Bank of America Stadium this weekend, have one win in their first seven games. In related news, head coach Christian Lattanzio struck a nerve among the Crown's supporters during his midweek presser, asking for patience and for fans to "wait for all our players to be in place."
It's worth watching his full answer for context:
Columbus, even with star striker Cucho Hernández recovering from an injury (knee), have scored the most goals in the league (17). But now they encounter New England’s Djordje Petrovic, arguably the best goalkeeper in MLS.
What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? We’re about to find out.
The Hernan Losada Bowl arrives.
The Argentine coach, early into the 2022 campaign, was dismissed from D.C. United amid some controversy re: training sessions and relationships with players. Now, Losada’s in charge of CF Montréal and meets his old club.
The extra catch? These are two of the Eastern Conference’s bottom-three teams, so a win at Stade Saputo will go a long way for the victor.
Houston will be without Héctor Herrera as he serves a red-card suspension. The Mexican star has been among the league’s top midfielders in 2023, inspiring the Dynamo’s solid form under new head coach Ben Olsen.
NYCFC fans are holding their collective breath over the health of homegrown James Sands, who was on the receiving end of Franco Ibarra’s red-card challenge in last weekend’s match vs. Atlanta. The defensive midfielder, back from his year-plus loan to Scotland’s Rangers FC, is questionable for Saturday before heading on US men's national team duty next week.
Given their current form (1W-1L-5D), Toronto FC are on pace to draw 24 games in 2023. That’d see them shatter the league record for draws (18), which was achieved by Chicago in 2014 and Nashville in 2021.
The above is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, though it’s a worrisome trend for the Reds amid Lorenzo Insigne’s continued absence (groin injury). The Italian star is at least listed as questionable on TFC’s latest injury report, so perhaps an on-field reunion with Federico Bernardeschi is nearing.
Several weeks ago, Austin FC head coach Josh Wolff called on their attackers to support Sebastián Driussi. That’s still important, though the 2022 Landon Donovan MLS MVP runner-up isn’t lighting the league on fire either. He’s got just 1g/1a through six games.
Somewhat under the radar, Chicago have gone four games unbeaten (2W-0L-2D) while club-record signing Xherdan Shaqiri nurses a leg injury. To be clear: we’re not saying correlation = causation here. And the Switzerland international and former Bayern Munich/Liverpool star will start when healthy, according to Fire head coach Ezra Hendrickson. But it’s notable Chicago are getting results all the same, even without their No. 10.
Now, the Fire welcome a Philly side that's struggling in the league (10th in the East) but just booked their spot in the Concacaf Champions League semifinals. Union head coach Jim Curtin said this after Wednesday's 3-2 aggregate win over Liga MX's Atlas FC, not minding the trade-off while juggling multiple competitions: "At the end of the day, I'll sign up to play in these types of games to learn about your group over anything. It's about surviving and advancing."
Maybe they’ve got something cooking there? Right back Geovane Jesus, their U22 Initiative signing from Brazil, is looking more and more comfortable. Jesús Jiménez, acquired in a trade from Toronto FC, gives them a different look at striker. Jesús Ferreira, after a Best XI campaign in 2022, has a team-leading four goals this year.
Poetry in motion.
WATCH: Apple TV - Free | Saturday, 8:30 pm ET
The bad news for Minnesota: they’re coming off their first loss of the season. The good news for the Loons: South Korean newcomer/U22 Initiative signing Sang Bin Jeong debuted last weekend and looked lively, introducing a new option to the club’s attack.
February and March for St. Louis CITY SC? Dreamland, soaring to the best-ever start for an MLS expansion team (five straight wins). April, so far, for the newcomers? Two straight losses.
WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 10:30 pm ET
The Timbers, winless in six matches, are the walking wounded right now, boasting a comically long list of injuries. But these factors sometimes go out the window in rivalry clashes, and they don’t get much bigger than Portland vs. Seattle.
Then again, the Sounders are back to their old selves and lead the Western Conference pack. Heading in opposite directions, which Cascadia Cup club will leave their mark?
WATCH: Apple TV - Free | Saturday, 10:30 pm ET
SKC fans are growing in frustration, with Peter Vermes' team scoring a league-low two goals through seven matches. Those preseason predictions about Willy Agada being a Golden Boot presented by Audi candidate are looking, uh, not the best. Alan Pulido is back, though, and can perhaps ignite the club’s offense.
Then again, San Jose are 3W-0L-1D at PayPal Park under new head coach Luchi González and have the league’s top chance-creator in Cristian Espinoza. Seriously, the Argentine winger has 4g/2a so far with 20 key passes. He might be the most underrated player in MLS.
WATCH: Apple TV - Free, FOX | Sunday, 4:30 pm ET
Could this be the most consequential El Trafico yet? The Audi MLS Cup Playoffs versions (2019, 2022) had win-or-go-home stakes, but the narratives surrounding this latest meeting are hard to ignore.
LAFC are the class of the league, into the Concacaf Champions League semifinals and not slowing down from last year’s MLS Cup-Supporters’ Shield double. Dénis Bouanga is playing at a real Landon Donovan MLS MVP level.
The LA Galaxy are amid their worst start to a season since 1997, taking three points from their first six games (0W-3L-3D). Questions about “dysfunction” are surfacing, and there are fan-led protests about the front office. The vibes aren’t great right now.
Now, imagine if LAFC secure a big win at their rival’s home stadium, with the 3252 perhaps outnumbering and cheering louder than the Galaxy’s most vocal supporters. It’s a real possibility.