In Matchday 28, we will see Messi make his league match debut as Inter Miami play The Red Bulls in New York and attempt to push up the standings from the bottom of the East.
We will also see an interstate rivalry match in Texas when Dallas hosts Austin as both teams try to build some needed momentum in the playoff hunt. Look for the intensity to ratchet up in the final third of the season, and for the latest player acquisitions to attempt to make their mark.
Neil FitzGerald here from The Game Day to look at the upcoming matches for Matchday 28 in Major League Soccer.
Atlanta United vs Nashville Preview
Atlanta is a team in flux. Before last weekend’s surprise 2-0 road win in Seattle, they had lost three of their previous four league matches. Those games, however, had followed a streak of seven unbeaten.
Atlanta’s home record (7-2-3) and recent win suggest this is a team to monitor, but it’s likely too early to wager on them.
Nashville’s defense leads MLS, conceding only 22 goals all season, and they are coming off a fantastic run to the Leagues Cup final. A Nashville squad that was looking to find goals before the Leagues Cup is winning now with the help of acquisition Sam Surridge [from Nottingham Forest].
Nashville is a serious contender for MLS Cup, but this is a tough week to take them for a road win.
Charlotte vs LAFC Preview
Charlotte enjoyed the league break, pulling off four wins during the Leagues Cup before an embarrassing 4-0 defeat to eventual champion Inter Miami.
Charlotte will try to get back in the league’s win column for the first time in nine games but will have their hands full versus powerhouse LAFC.
LAFC is unbeaten in three league matches and have moved to second in the Western Conference behind St. Louis CITY. Based on this and their strong play in the Leagues Cup, they look primed to make a run for the top spot in the West in the remaining third of this season.
FC Cincinnati vs New York City FC Preview
With only three losses to date, Cincinnati is the favorite to win the Supporter’s Shield, but they did lose on the road to Columbus last week and conceded three goals. Expected this top team to bounce back and protect their undefeated record at home (11-0-1).
With NYCFC’s 2-0 loss to Minnesota last weekend, they have only won once in their previous 16 league games. This, in combination with their weak road record (1-6-7) suggests this is not the week to back NYCFC for the turnaround.
Columbus Crew vs Toronto FC Preview
After last week’s big 3-0 win against top-of-the-table Cincinnati, The Crew have only lost one game in their last ten and are leading the Eastern Conference in goals scored (48).
As the Crew’s new additions, Diego Rossi and USMNT Julian Gressel, get acclimated, they are primed to continue their strong run of play. This is an easy horse to bet, although the odds will not be great.
After a Leagues Cup with two more losses and two more games where they were kept off the scoresheet, Toronto FC started the last third of the season with a 3-2 loss to Montreal. Toronto did score twice courtesy of Italian national Federico Bernardeschi, but thanks to their suspect defense and decision-making, The Reds gave up three.
A bet here would be pure speculation based on justified long odds, so it is best to avoid it.
D.C. United vs Philadelphia Union Preview
After a disappointing finish to the Leagues Cup, D.C. United’s lack of consistency continued last weekend in a 1-0 loss to The Red Bulls, where they did not register a shot on target. They have proven they can compete with the heavyweights while on their game, but this inconsistency is not the betting indicator we’re seeking.
The Union have only lost three times in their last 16 league matches and had a great run in the Leagues Cup before being bounced by Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami squad in the semi-final. Philadelphia has struggled on the road more than expected this season (4-6-2), so backing them is based on the potential return.
- D.C. UNITED vs PHILADELPHIA UNION PICK: Philadelphia to Win (+185) PointsBet Sportsbook. The Union continued their strong play in the Leagues Cup, and D.C. United are inconsistent.
CF Montréal vs New England Revolution Preview
After FC Montréal had scored only two goals in their last five league games, they exploded for three goals on 12 shots last weekend on the road in Toronto. However, their expected goals metric is one of the worst in the Eastern Conference, and they were playing a struggling TFC, so it's best to bet warily versus The Revolution.
After a Leagues Cup with mixed results, it’s worth remembering that The Revolution have only lost once in their last ten games.
However, their road record (3-4-4) suggests some vulnerability, and their expected goal differential of +1.5 is significantly below their actual differential of 14. These mixed signals suggest betting here is not justified.
New York Red Bulls vs Inter Miami Preview
After last week’s 1-0 shutout win over DC United, The Red Bulls now have the third-fewest goals allowed in the MLS. The squad has difficulty finding the net, with only 23 goals scored across 24 league games, but their expected Goal Differential (xGD) of +9.4 leads the entire Eastern Conference.
The Red Bulls Leagues Cup performance was also impressive, with three wins against one loss, so they are a team to watch down the stretch.
Miami has yet to win a league game in their last 11 attempts. Still, after the team overhaul and recent performance in the Leagues Cup, the question of whether those previous league games matter anymore is valid.
Inter Miami will be pushing hard for positive results in a longshot attempt at the MLS playoffs, but they are coming up against a tough and battle-ready Red Bulls squad.
- NEW YORK RED BULLS vs INTER MIAMI PICK: Total Goals under 2.5 (+115) FanDuel Sportsbook. Most betting money will be behind Inter Miami this week, but The Red Bulls are primed to surprise and will play Messi’s squad very tight.
Orlando City vs St Louis CITY Preview
After a solid 3-1 road win in Chicago last week, Orlando has only lost twice in their previous 14 league games, and they’ve won four out of five. They are a trending team, and their strong home record (5-3-4) suggests this will be a competitive match but a tough one to call.
St Louis CITY remains atop the Western Conference as they have won five of six league matches. They exploded for six goals versus Austin last week after a disappointing Leagues Cup, where they lost two games.
St. Louis are the most successful offense in the West (49 goals) to date, but it’s worth noting that their expected goal (xG) metric is only 32.9, suggesting they have benefitted from some good fortune.
- ORLANDO CITY vs ST LOUIS CITY PICK: Total Goals over 3.5 (+186) FanDuel Sportsbook. These two teams combined for nine goals last week, so four this week seems easy.
FC Dallas vs Austin FC Preview
Dallas is in a funk, having lost six of their last nine league matches and had mixed results in the Leagues Cup before losing out in PKs to Inter Miami. They must show a change of form before wagering is warranted, and their strong home record (6-3-2) suggests it may be possible this week.
Before last weekend’s 6-3 blowout loss to St. Louis, Austin had only lost once in their previous six league games. They will attempt to get back on track in this Interstate rivalry, but their struggles on the road (3-7-2) mean backing the away team to win would be a longshot.
Sporting Kansas City vs San Jose Earthquakes Preview
Sporting Kansas City were moving in the right direction before the break but continue to suffer from some inconsistency. They tied a formidable team in Real Salt Lake before losing in Austin before the Leagues Cup. Unless the odds are fantastic, this is not the battle you want to get behind.
While San Jose is unbeaten in four in league competition, including an upset 1-0 road win in Vancouver last week, they were dispatched in the groups stage of the Leagues Cup without scoring a goal. San Jose needs to be stronger on the road with a 2-6-4 record, so it's best to avoid backing the visitor here.
Real Salt Lake vs Houston Dynamo Preview
Salt Lake has now lost only twice in their previous 17 league matches, and they are unbeaten in nine after their latest 3-1 league win over the Red Bulls. This team is one of the strongest teams in the league right now, but it’s worth keeping an eye on their play with the loss of influential midfielder Pablo Ruiz.
Before the Leagues Cup break, Houston was winless in five but broke out of their league funk with a blowout 5-0 win over Portland last weekend.
While it’s likely best to wait and watch for some consistency before investing here, it’s worth noting that the Dynamo took three Leagues Cup games to PKs and won two of them.
LA Galaxy vs Chicago Fire Preview
The interruption to the league schedule came at the wrong time for the Galaxy. They had not lost in seven league games before losing at Vancouver in their last match. They also had a disappointing Leagues Cup, losing both games and exiting at the Group Stage, so it is likely best to wait and watch at this time.
Chicago has won five out of their last seven league matches but did lose 3-1 to Orlando last week in what appeared to be a competitive contest.
While the Leagues Cup included two losses to Liga MX squads, they beat Minnesota 3-2 to keep their MLS success moving. Betting on Chicago is becoming viable, but avoiding this match-up on the road is better.
Portland Timbers vs Vancouver Whitecaps Preview
The Timbers have now only won twice in their last 11 games, and their previous loss was so bad (5-0 to Houston) that the organization has fired the coach.
Portland did take down San Jose 2-0 in Leagues Cup play, so there may be some cause for optimism, but only wagering once the team proves they can compete with a new gaffer.
Before last week’s 1-0 loss to San Jose, Vancouver was 4-2-2 in their previous eight league matches. On the positive side, in that loss, they did outshoot the Earthquakes 19-3 but could not find the net, and San Jose scored on their single shot on target. Expect a bounceback this week.
- PORTLAND TIMBERS vs VANCOUVER WHITECAPS PICK: Vancouver To Win (+230) FanDuel Sportsbook. Vancouver is playing for their playoff spot now, and Portland is ripe for the picking.
Minnesota United vs Seattle Sounders Preview
After last week’s 2-0 road win in New York, Minnesota has only lost three games in their previous 12, and they have secured additional road points against Real Salt Lake, Houston, and Portland in that stretch.
The team’s road record (6-6-1) and their expected Goal Differential (+5.4) over the season suggest this team is ready to challenge for a final playoff spot.
With last week’s 2-0 loss at home to Atlanta, The Sounders did not get the bounceback they hoped for after a disappointing Leagues Cup. They still have a strong defense and an offense with actual goals (29) significantly below their xG (Expected Goals) of 38.3.
Look for Seattle’s luck to change and find the net more regularly in the final stretch, but don’t bet on them to win this week.
The MLS odds I used for my betting picks are current as of 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Aug. 23, at the indicated sportsbook.