Matchday 9: What to know, how to watch on MLS Season Pass


A quick programming note! This weekend, all teams are wearing the adidas One Planet Kit made of recycled materials. So if you see a lot of mint and blue, your eyes are not deceiving you.

Now for the soccer: Matchday 9 begins with two new teams – St. Louis CITY SC (West) and New England Revolution (East) – atop the various conferences. Will they remain there come Sunday evening?

That’s one major storyline to monitor in the MLS weekend ahead, which features all 14 games on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV. There are no blackouts and multiple commentary options for each contest… and 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.
2023 One Planet Kits
adidas One Planet Kit made of recycled materials
Charlotte FC vs. Columbus Crew

WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 7:30 pm ET

The positive outlook: Charlotte FC have taken a point in four of their last five games. The reality-centric outlook: Charlotte FC have won one of eight games this year and are 14th in the Eastern Conference table.

Adding to the headwinds: Columbus star striker Cucho Hernández (knee) is returning “soon,” according to head coach Wilfried Nancy. Possibly as soon as Saturday evening?

FC Cincinnati vs. Portland Timbers

WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 7:30 pm ET

Portland are riding the high of last weekend’s 4-1 rout of Seattle, a potential season-altering result against their Cascadia rival. Cincy, meanwhile, lost the Supporters’ Shield lead weekend with a 5-1 defeat at St. Louis CITY SC. The contrast in vibes at training this week must have been stark.

The big question marks surround Cincy DPs Luciano Acosta and Brenner, meaning if they will return this weekend. Acosta could see minutes, perhaps in a limited fashion, upon recovering from a shoulder injury. Brenner’s a bit more TBD, as he’s been held out for precautionary reasons pending a transfer to Serie A side Udinese. That's the latest Cincy head coach Pat Noonan shared at training.

CF Montréal vs. New York Red Bulls

WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 7:30 pm ET

The Red Bulls are scoring 0.75 goals per game. Key attackers Luquinhas (adductor), Lewis Morgan (hip) and Dante Vanzeir (suspension) have all been sidelined… these things are not a coincidence.

But if there’s a time for New York’s offense to come good, it’s against a Montréal defense that’s allowed a league-high 17 goals thus far and last week saw Canadian international center back Kamal Miller get traded to Inter Miami. They’re ripe for the taking.

New England Revolution vs. Sporting Kansas City

WATCH: Apple TV - Free | Saturday, 7:30 pm ET

These clubs have experienced polar-opposite starts to 2023: New England are now first in the Eastern Conference table, while Sporting Kansas City are bottom of the Western Conference. This all means it’s a simple/straightforward win for the Revolution, yes? The experienced MLS viewer knows that’s rarely the case.

Then again, SKC’s wobbly offense (league-low two goals scored) will be hamstrung this weekend at Gillette Stadium. 2022 leading scorer Willy Agada is out long-term with a leg fracture and SKC might be cautious with DP striker Alan Pulido on the Gillette Stadium turf as he returns from a long-term knee injury.

New York City FC vs. FC Dallas

WATCH: Apple TV - Free | Saturday, 7:30 pm ET

How much gas does Jesús Ferreira have in the tank? The star FC Dallas forward went the distance Wednesday evening in a 1-1 draw vs. Mexico, scoring an 81st-minute equalizer to keep the USMNT undefeated in their last five games against the Concacaf arch-rival.

That’s ditto for NYCFC midfielder James Sands, in fact, whose shift between a No. 6 role and place in a three-man backline proved crucial in the comeback result. Both homegrown products are vital to their team’s hopes, creating some careful considerations for the managers.

Orlando City SC vs. D.C. United

WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 7:30 pm ET

Has Orlando City striker Duncan McGuire impressed enough to get his third career MLS start? The SuperDraft-selected rookie scored the game-winner in Orlando’s trip to Minnesota last weekend, and he scored in a 1-1 draw at D.C. earlier this year. With 2g/1a on the year, McGuire is tied with star DP attacker Martín Ojeda for the team scoring lead.

A stat of note: D.C. striker Christian Benteke leads the league in duels (156, 55.8% success rate) and aerials (100, 69% success rate). They’re so dependent on the Belgian international in the buildup and as a focal point in the attack.

Philadelphia Union vs. Toronto FC

WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 7:30 pm ET

You couldn’t blame Philadelphia if they have an eye on next Wednesday, when they begin their Concacaf Champions League semifinal series vs. LAFC. But there’s also the need to get points in the league, as last year’s Eastern Conference winners sit 10th and just outside the way-early Audi MLS Cup Playoffs picture. Fixture congestion is a real challenge, folks.

For Toronto, the big storyline is how much Lorenzo Insigne can play. The superstar Italian winger returned from a groin injury last weekend, subbing on for a 14-minute appearance. I’d be shocked if he gets the start this soon, but Toronto need his game-changing impact ASAP after drawing six of their first eight games.

Houston Dynamo FC vs. Inter Miami CF

WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 8:30 pm ET

Inter Miami head coach Phil Neville, after a bye week and amid a five-game losing streak, is talking about this Texas trip in consequential terms. There’s pressure on the Herons to turn their season around as their headline-grabbing, two-game win streak to start 2023 fades further into the distance.

The Dynamo have won all three home games to start the Ben Olsen era, and they’ll get star midfielder Héctor Herrera back from his red-card suspension. Low-key, Houston would have four wins in their last six games if they get another three-point result this weekend. They’re making progress.

Nashville SC vs. LAFC

WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 8:30 pm ET

The last time LAFC visited GEODIS Park, since-retired superstar Gareth Bale made his MLS debut. The No. 11 shirt the Welsh legend sported on that mid-July evening now belongs to midfielder Timothy Tillman, and the Black & Gold are both the last undefeated team in the league and first in points per game (2.43). Much has changed for LAFC, but also it hasn’t.

Nashville continue to be remarkably dependent on Hany Mukhtar, providing both an Achilles heel and a source of strength in the final third. As that storyline looms around the reigning Landon Donovan MLS MVP and Golden Boot presented by Audi winner, Nashville are hoping to avoid a fourth loss in their last six games.

Colorado Rapids vs. St. Louis CITY SC

WATCH: Apple TV - Free | Saturday, 9:30 pm ET

Through the first fifth of their debut MLS season, St. Louis are first in points (18), goals scored (20), wins (6) and goal differential (+11). DPs Eduard Löwen and João Klauss are producing after few knew what to expect from the German Bundesliga exports, and Bradley Carnell is laying the foundation for a Sigi Schmid MLS Coach of the Year-caliber season with a band of lesser-known names. The vibes are immaculate for CITY SC.

But here comes a Colorado team that’s undefeated in four games and could end the weekend above the playoff line. That coincides with Chilean international and 2022 leading scorer Diego Rubio returning to form, tallying 1g/1a in their last two games while picking really smart spots in the attack. Rubio’s productivity is especially important since attacking midfielder Cole Bassett is out with a hamstring injury.

Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes

WATCH: Apple TV - Free | Saturday, 9:30 pm ET

The Earthquakes have quietly produced their best start (4W-2L-2D) to a season in over a decade after going 6W-1L-1D in 2012. Newcomers like center back Jonathan Mensah and midfielder Carlos Gruezo are playing big roles, but it’s the star attackers often drawing headlines. Since the start of 2022, striker Jeremy Ebobisse and winger Cristian Espinoza have scored or assisted on 46 of 62 goals scored by the club (74.2%).

For RSL to stop San Jose in their tracks, it’s welcomed news that Damir Kreilach is probable after being sidelined by a groin injury. The captain hasn’t played since early April, all after missing most of 2022 with a back injury. Kreilach, simply put, lifts RSL’s ceiling.

LA Galaxy vs. Austin FC

WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 10:30 pm ET

The clock is ticking on the Galaxy getting any international signings completed before the league’s Primary Transfer Window closes Monday evening. Head coach/sporting director Greg Vanney said they’re pursuing a wide attacker, a clear position of need during this winless and historic (0W-4L-3D) start to 2023. The transfer timelines are especially crucial because LA, facing sanctions, can’t sign players from abroad when the Secondary Transfer Window runs from July 5 to Aug. 2.

Austin enter with clear urgency, too. The 2022 Western Conference finalist is enduring a four-game winless streak where they’ve been outscored 6-1. Last season’s spark and clarity of execution are missing.

Seattle Sounders FC vs. Minnesota United FC

WATCH: Apple TV - Free | Saturday, 10:30 pm ET

Reading between the lines, there’s a strong chance Héber is Seattle’s starting striker this weekend. Raúl Ruidíaz left training midweek with a hamstring injury, a worrisome trend for the DP, and Jordan Morris is coming off an 89-minute performance in the USMNT’s 1-1 draw vs. Mexico midweek. The good news: Héber has done this job admirably before, scoring in both of his early-season starts when the Sounders were previously without Ruidíaz.

Minnesota have lost back-to-back games, perhaps showing some limitations without Emanuel Reynoso. The Loons still have some strong attacking options – Bongokuhle Hlongwane, Sang Bin Jeong and Robin Lod all come to mind – but their Argentine No. 10 would undoubtedly raise the team’s ceiling.

Atlanta United vs. Chicago Fire FC

WATCH: Apple TV - Free, FS1 | Sunday, 4:30 pm ET

There were reports earlier this week that Serie A leaders Napoli are tracking Atlanta United’s Thiago Almada. You can expect teams of that caliber – they just got knocked out of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals by AC Milan – to track the star midfielder as the European summer transfer window nears. The Argentine World Cup winner has 4g/5a in six games this year, possibly building towards a league-record outgoing deal.

The Fire, were it not for blown leads at home vs. Cincinnati and Philadelphia (turned into draws) in recent weeks, would likely be top-four in the Eastern Conference with 14 points or thereabouts. That recurring issue lingers, as does the slow return of club-record signing Xherdan Shaqiri. The Swiss international got a 25-minute substitute appearance last weekend, but head coach Ezra Hendrickson stopped short of saying Shaqiri will start at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.