During Matchday 32, we will see Inter Miami continue their quest for a playoff spot by visiting Atlanta in a game that should be a battle with Lionel Messi scheduled away on international duty. Miami is still in the hunt in the East and is closing the gap but still need to jump over five teams above them in the standings.
We are also going to be treated to some rivalry battles involving intra-city matchups in Los Angeles and New York while a Canadian rivalry involving Vancouver is hosted in Toronto.
Results at this time of the season can move the team in and out of playoff spots and/or home-field advantage, so expect some fiery engagements.
Neil FitzGerald here from The Game Day to look at the upcoming MLS matches for Matchday 32 taking place on Saturday, Sept. 16th, and Sunday, Sept. 17th.
The MLS odds I used for my betting picks are current as of 11 a.m. ET on Thursday, Sep. 14, at the indicated sportsbook for the wager.
New York City FC vs New York Red Bulls Preview
With NYCFC’s 1-1 draw with Vancouver in their last match, they are now undefeated in two, but the reality is they have only won twice in their previous 19 league games. This, in combination with the Red Bulls' recent positive play suggests this is not a good week to back NYCFC for an outright win.
Despite competitive play, the Red Bulls have lost three games in a row, with their latest 4-1 result coming at the hands of Philadelphia despite outshooting The Union 14-11.
The squad has difficulty finding the net, with only 24 goals scored across all league matches, but their expected Goal Differential (xGD) of +7.4 is still third in the Eastern Conference so they may be worth a look if the odds are attractive.
NEW YORK CITY FC vs NEW YORK RED BULLS PICK: Total Goals Under 1.5 (+230) • PointsBet Sportsbook. Neither New York team is scoring frequently, and both are playing well on the back end.
Atlanta United vs Inter Miami CF Preview
Atlanta followed a competitive 2-1 loss to league-leading Cincinnati with a tightly contested 2-2 draw away to Dallas, where they owned 60% of possession. Atlanta is third in MLS in scoring (51 goals), and their home record (8-3-3) indicates that this will be a high-scoring and competitive match.
Despite being outshot 15-10 versus Kansas City in their last match, Inter Miami came away with a 3-2 win last week. Inter Miami still has to pass five teams to make the playoffs, but the gap has been reduced to six points.
Due to international games this weekend,* Messi* is not likely to play, but as he has been held out of the Argentina-Bolivia match, keep an eye on the starting rosters here.
ATLANTA UNITED vs INTER MIAMI FC PICK: Total Goals Over 3.5 (+115) • PointsBet Sportsbook. Atlanta plays attacking and aggressive football, and Inter Miami can take advantage of their counter-opportunities
Charlotte FC vs D.C. United Preview
While Charlotte has only lost once in nine league matches, and they did manage four wins in the Leagues Cup, a pessimist could counter that they have only actually won a single match in their last eleven.
Despite the mixed signals here, Charlotte is only three points out of a playoff spot, and they played well in a 1-1 draw with a strong Nashville squad, so expect a competitive match.
After three losses, DC United followed up a 4-0 win over Chicago with a 24-shot performance against San Jose last weekend. Unfortunately, none of those shots found the back of the net, and they now sit precariously in front of Charlotte, holding onto the last playoff spot.
The team’s xGD (Expected Goal Differential) is better than their actual results on the season, so there is some reason for hope.
CF Montréal vs Chicago Fire Preview
After CF Montréal lost 2-0 in New York, they went back home and lost again (4-2) to Columbus. The team’s xGD( -6.2) is one of the worst in the Eastern Conference, and while their home record (9-4-0) is impressive, their recent string of results makes backing them a risky wager.
Chicago has now dropped four matches since the break, including a 4-0 shutout loss to DC United last week.
The Fire have only scored once in their last four matches, and their road record (3-8-2) does not inspire confidence.
Orlando FC vs Columbus Crew Preview
After a nicely surprising 1-0 road win over Cincinnati in their last match [where they only had one shot on target], Orlando has now only lost twice in their previous 17 league games. This is a team performing well that hasn’t lost at home in months, so expect a battle versus an explosive Crew.
After beating Montreal 4-2 on the road, Columbus has only lost twice in their last 13 league matches, and they continue to rack up goals leading the East with 54.
The Crew is in a battle for playoff home-field advantage in the East, so this will be an exciting match this week in Florida.
Philadelphia Union FC vs Cincinnati FC Preview
The Union have only lost four times in their last 19 league matches after a bounceback 4-1 victory over the Red Bulls in their last match.
Philadelphia should be happy to be playing this tough match at home and will be ready for a tough, competitive match amongst contenders for the top team in the East.
After clinching a playoff spot with their road win in Atlanta, Cincinnati was disappointed to lose to an Orlando team that only managed a single shot on target in their last game.
Unfortunately, that single shot found the back of the net. Things will not get easier this week versus a tough Union squad with a 9-1-2 record at home.
Toronto FC vs Vancouver Whitecaps Preview
The Reds looked rejuvenated in their last game, a 3-1 home win over a tough Philadelphia team. Italian Nationals Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi were inspirational, and captain Michael Bradley provided yeoman’s work at center back.
The team will look to gel in the final days before newly appointed coach and former Canadian national team coach John Herdman takes over.
Vancouver has lost only one in their last six league matches and have started their seven-game road trip with two impressive victories in Portland and Chicago and a draw in New York.
While their overall road record is unimpressive at 3-5-4, The Whitecaps' recent form suggests this Canadian rivalry will be an exciting battle and worth considering support if the odds are attractive.
FC Dallas vs Seattle Sounders FC Preview
Dallas has come out of the break with one win, and two draws in their first four games back. Combining their strong defense (29 goals allowed) with their strong play at home (7-3-3) suggests this game will be competitive, and backing FC Dallas is a realistic option.
The Sounders xG of almost 42 significantly exceeds their actual results (34), so more goals should be coming, and their solid road record (5-5-3) indicates the odds are worth following here.
Seattle has moved on from their Leagues Cup challenges and are now undefeated in three matches, including away matches at Minnesota and Austin.
Houston Dynamo vs St Louis CITY FC Preview
The Dynamo have come out of the Leagues Cup break inspired and have outscored their two opponents 10-0 over their first four games, including a 0-0 draw with the Galaxy in their last match.
Houston is 9-2-2 at home and have not conceded a single goal in five league matches, so they are worth monitoring the odds on.
St. Louis has been one of the most prolific offenses in MLS (55 goals) all season, but their expected goals (xG) is only 35, suggesting they have benefitted from some good fortune that may eventually disappear.
They have not won a road game in their last four away matches, so the time may be right to bet against the conference leaders.
Minnesota United vs Sporting Kansas City Preview
Minnesota United have now only lost three games in their previous 16 matches, and their expected Goal Differential (+7.8) over the season highlights that this team’s performance is for real.
Expect this streaking squad to keep their unbeaten streak of 7 alive in their chance to avenge a 3-0 loss earlier in the season in Kansas City.
After winning back-to-back games (3-0 over San Jose and 2-1 over St Louis CITY FC), Kansas City lost a close 3-2 match to Miami last week despite outshooting them 15-10.
The team is still within 2 points of a playoff spot but they must find a way to reverse their awful road record of 1-7-6 before they become attractive as a betting option.
Colorado Rapids vs New England Revolution Preview
The Rapids suffered another loss midweek with a 2-0 defeat to Real Salt Lake and are now scoreless in their last five league matches.
On the positive side, they had only lost one of their last four league games before the break, with two scoreless draws in that stretch. Expect Colorado to play tight and try to find a surprise goal, but this is not wagering territory.
New England bounced back from a lackluster loss 1-0 to Montreal with a solid 1-0 victory over the surging Red Bulls and then two draws versus Austin FC and Minnesota.
The large gap between actual (+14) and expected (+0.1) goal differential is an ongoing concern, and the off-field distractions with Bruce Arena leaving the club and the players refusing to practice suggest avoiding a bet here.
Los Angeles Football Club vs LA Galaxy Preview
Despite outshooting Inter Miami 22-9 and then owning 61% of the ball versus Portland, LAFC ended up on a three-game losing streak after last weekend. The team's xGD (+13.4) is still the best in MLS, and their actual goal differential (+8) is not far off, so this is still a team to back.
The Galaxy have only lost once in 12 league games and are undefeated since the Leagues Cup break. The squad is owning the majority of possession [e.g. 70% vs Portland last week] in their recent games and scoring at an impressive rate recently. The Galaxy are building momentum towards a playoff spot, and this will be a battle between two teams with solid recent results.
San Jose Earthquakes vs Real Salt Lake Preview
Despite allowing 24 shots from DC United last week, San Jose tied 0-0 and kept a precarious hold on their playoff spot. The Earthquakes have a decent 7-2-5 record at home, but Real Salt Lake is a strong road team, and San Jose’s ongoing negative (-6) xGD (expected goal differential) on the season makes this a bet to avoid.
After losing a second consecutive match 2-1 [to the Timbers], Salt Lake bounced back with a solid 2-0 victory over the basement-dwelling Rapids.
Despite a rough patch after the Leagues Cup break, this team has only two matches in their last 12. They are one of the league's strongest squads, and their strong road record (6-4-3) suggests consideration of the odds here.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES vs REAL SALT LAKE PICK: Real Salt Lake To Win (+240) • PointsBet Sportsbook. Salt Lake’s strong road record makes these road odds attractive.
Austin FC vs Portland Timbers Preview
Austin has only won once in their last six league matches and are now on the outside of the playoff picture, a point behind cross-state rival Dallas. They will attempt to get back on track versus the enigmatic Timbers this week but they are not a betting favorite just yet.
After a rejuvenating week that included a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake and a 2-2 draw in Seattle, the Timbers followed that up with an impressive 2-0 home win over LAFC.
The recent results are impressive and they can sniff the playoff spots but that single road win on the year does not allow enough confidence to recommend a wager.