During Matchday 34, we will see Inter Miami continue their quest for a playoff spot visiting their cross-state rival and powerhouse Orlando City.
Even more importantly, we will find out if Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba are healthy enough to play in these critical matches, as both were removed in the first half of their recent game versus Toronto FC.
This week will also help reveal if Houston Dynamo FC can maintain their post-Leagues Cup hot streak and if Real Salt Lake can shake themselves out of their current funk.
In both cases and with many other teams, the timing is crucial as the Audi MLS Playoff matches will be set in the coming weeks.
Neil FitzGerald here from The Game Day to look at the upcoming MLS matches for Matchday 34 taking place on Saturday, Sept. 23rd, or Sunday, Sept. 24th.
The MLS odds I used for my betting picks are current as of 11 a.m. ET on Thursday, Sep. 21, at the indicated sportsbook for the wager.
Atlanta United vs. CF Montréal Preview
Despite allowing 19 shots against them, Atlanta United held strong and came away with another road point in a 1-1 draw away to DC United.
The Five Stripes are now second in MLS in scoring (57 goals), and they’ve only lost once in their last six. Their home record (9-3-3) makes them a strong bet this weekend.
CF Montréal came away with a second successive draw at home on Wednesday as they tied Cincinnati 1-1. They should consider themselves fortunate as they scored on their only shot on target.
The team’s xGD( -5.0) is easily the worst for a playoff team in the Eastern Conference, and their road record (2-10-2) suggests this is a team to avoid this weekend.
- ATLANTA UNITED vs. CF MONTRÉAL PICK: Total Goals Over 3.5 (+140) • PointsBet Sportsbook. Atlanta’s explosive offense and both teams’ weak back ends make this formula add up.
FC Cincinnati vs. Charlotte FC Preview
Following a valiant 2-2 come-from-behind road draw in Philadelphia on the weekend, FC Cincinnati came away from CF Montréal with another single point in a midweek 1-1 draw.
Things will not be easy this week versus a tough Charlotte squad that is playing for their playoff lives and has some strong recent results.
Charlotte FC has now only lost once in eleven league matches and remains three points out of a playoff spot after a 2-2 draw at home with the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday.
The Crown were disappointed with the recent result after giving up a late injury-time goal and allowing The Union to come back from a two-goal deficit. Despite some strong play recently, this is a tough match to back this squad.
D.C. United vs. New York Red Bulls Preview
After three losses, D.C. United is now undefeated in their last four and have only conceded a single goal in those matches. The team sits precariously in 9th place, holding onto the last playoff spot but will need to start winning if they’re going to defend their spot against high-flying Inter Miami and the other contenders.
Despite continued strong play, the Red Bulls have not won in five matches after a competitive 1-1 defensive match versus Austin FC.
The squad has difficulty finding the net, with only 25 goals scored across all league matches, but their expected Goal Differential (xGD) of +7.9 is still third-best in the Eastern Conference, so they may be worth a look if the odds are attractive.
- D.C. UNITED vs. NEW YORK RED BULLS: Total Goals Under 1.5 (+240) • FanDuel Sportsbook. The Red Bulls' defense will keep DC in check, and their offense rarely scores more than a single goal per game.
New York City FC vs. Toronto FC Preview
With NYCFC’s impressive 2-0 win over a strong Orlando City squad in their midweek match, they are now undefeated in four.
The victory was only their third in their last 21 games, yet they find themselves within striking distance (two points) of the last playoff spot in the East.
This, in combination with Toronto’s woeful road record, including zero wins, should have the team salivating.
The Reds were not able to take advantage of an Inter Miami squad that lost both Messi and Alba before half-time on Wednesday night.
In fact, Toronto seemed to lose focus after the injury substitutions and continued their unfortunate run of play on the road this year, losing 4-0 and only managing two shots on target.
Philadelphia Union vs. LAFC Preview
The Union have only lost four times in their last 21 matches after a competitive 2-2 draw on the road in Charlotte in their midweek match.
Philadelphia did come back from a two-goal deficit with a late injury-time goal, so they should be feeling confident. The team has only lost once at home all year, so they will present a stiff challenge to the visitors.
LAFC remains within six points of conference-leading St. Louis CITY SC after a competitive scoreless draw in St. Louis on Wednesday.
The team's xGD (+13) is still second best in MLS, but they will need to overcome their weak road record (3-5-5) to challenge for the Western Conference title and in this game.
Chicago Fire vs. New England Revolution Preview
After a difficult 3-0 defeat to the Columbus Crew in the midweek match, the Chicago Fire has not won in six matches since the break.
The Fire have only scored once in their last six games, and their recent performance does not inspire increased hope as they only managed a single shot on target.
New England missed an opportunity for road points in their last match, a 2-1 loss to the basement-dwelling Colorado Rapids.
The large gap between actual (+13) and expected (+0) goal differential remains an ongoing concern, and combined with the off-field distractions, this is a team to avoid investing in right now.
FC Dallas vs. Columbus Crew Preview
Dallas has come out of the break and received points in five of their first six games back, including three ties and two wins.
After their impressive 3-1 road win over Real Salt Lake, they have moved into the playoff picture and threaten to continue moving up if they can continue to complement their strong defense (32 goals allowed) with some offensive results.
Columbus returned to winning form with a 3-0 victory over the Chicago Fire on Wednesday night. This was the third game in a row that the Crew have scored at least three goals, and they now lead MLS with 60 tallies on the season.
The Crew only won three times on the road this year, so the road odds will need to be very attractive to wager here.
Sporting Kansas City vs. Houston Dynamo FC Preview
Before a disappointing 3-0 loss at home to a previously struggling Nashville SC squad, Sporting Kansas City had won three of four matches. The team had moved to within a single point of a playoff spot, but their midweek loss pushed them down the standings and makes them a challenge to back.
The Dynamo have been playing inspired football since the Leagues Cup break and have outscored their two opponents 15-2 over their first six games.
However, Houston is 2-8-3 on the road, so they are not a slam dunk as a wager this weekend. They are worth a look, depending on the odds.
- SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs. HOUSTON DYNAMO FC PICK: Houston To Win (+260) • PointsBet Sportsbook. Houston is fully dialed in now, and Kansas City has lost six times at home already.
Minnesota United vs. St. Louis CITY SC Preview
Minnesota’s expected Goal Differential (+10) over the season highlights that this team’s performance is for real, and they have been marching up the standings as proof.
This match promises to be competitive between two heavyweights in the West but their disappointing 4-3 loss in Los Angeles on Wednesday does give reason for pause before wagering.
Despite allowing 14 shots against in their midweek game versus LAFC, St. Louis CITY SC held strong and came away with a scoreless draw at home. They had won their last four games at home before this but the tie maintains their six-point cushion over LAFC.
This will be another tough match for St. Louis but not an easy team to wager on this week.
Real Salt Lake vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC Preview
Real Salt Lake has lost four of their last five matches, with the sole win coming versus the lowly Colorado Rapids.
Before this rough patch, they had been one of the league's strongest squads and had been on a nine-game unbeaten streak. They lost 3-1 midweek at home to FC Dallas, so it's not the time to back them with a wager.
Vancouver lost 4-1 to Houston in their midweek game despite outshooting the Dynamo 11-6 in the match.
It was their first loss in the initial four games of a seven-game road trip, so there is continued hope for The Whitecaps on the road, and this may be the week to take a look at the road odds.
Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids Preview
Portland is unbeaten in five games after their 2-1 win over San Jose on Wednesday. The recent results are impressive, and the Timbers have moved firmly into the playoff picture.
The team has played well at home this season with seven wins, and they are playing a Colorado team on the weekend that has only won twice on the road this year.
The Rapids scored again but were unable to stop the Seattle Sounders from scoring two and came away with another midweek loss at home.
Expect Colorado to continue to compete and attempt to score a goal in their third successive match for the first time this season, but this is not wagering territory.
San Jose Earthquakes vs Nashville SC Preview
The Earthquakes are solidly in playoff position in the Western Conference now, but their negative xGD (expected goal differential) nearing -8.0 on the season makes this a difficult team to bet on. The team’s 8-2-3 home record makes them interesting to watch, but their inconsistency makes it too exciting.
Before their midweek 3-0 win on the road in Kansas City, Nashville SC had not won a game in six and only once in their last nine matches.
The Coyotes have been falling down the Eastern Conference standings and were on the verge of dropping out of the top seven if the poor results continued. It’s premature to bet on a return to their Leagues Cup form just yet, but they are worth monitoring.
Orlando City vs. Inter Miami CF Preview
Orlando City were not able to preserve and extend their unbeaten streak (of six games) midweek in New York and lost 2-0 to NYCFC. They have now only lost three times in their last 20 matches, so they are worth a look in this Florida rivalry game. This is a team worth watching and supporting when the odds are right.
After their first loss (5-2 in Atlanta) since their roster overhaul, Inter Miami blew up for another four goals against Toronto FC on Wednesday night.
While Messi and Alba both took knocks and left the game in the first half, their Finnish teammate, Robert Taylor, slotted two goals and assisted on another in their absence. This game should be an exciting match, and the betting direction will change based on who is able to play.
Austin FC vs LA Galaxy Preview
Austin has only won once in their last eight matches, and despite a 1-1 result on Wednesday night, they only managed a single shot on target and needed an own goal from the Red Bulls to come away with the tie.
Austin FC will attempt to get back on track versus the free-flowing LA Galaxy this week, but they are not an attractive wagering option.
Before their impressive come-from-behind 4-3 win over Minnesota, the Galaxy had lost only twice in their last 13 games.
The Galaxy are building momentum towards a playoff spot during this streak but will need to find a way to win on the road to make this a reality.
- AUSTIN FC vs. LA GALAXY PICK: LA Galaxy To Win (+270) • FanDuel Sportsbook. The Galaxy are playing well and moving up, and Austin is struggling.