During Matchday 36, we will see Inter Miami continue their chase for a playoff spot on the road in Chicago, needing to make up four points with one game in hand and four teams to jump.
Importantly, we will also find out about Lionel Messi’s health and understand more about his expected playing minutes as we approach game time.
This weekend will feature some high-end battles with teams competing for higher playoff seeds and home-field advantage deep into the Audi MLS Playoffs. Columbus visiting New England and Atlanta visiting Philadelphia are two games that will have a significant impact on the playoff standings.
Neil FitzGerald here from The Game Day to look at the upcoming MLS matches for Matchday 36, taking place on Wednesday, Oct. 4th.
The MLS odds I used for my betting picks are current as of 11 a.m. ET on Monday, Oct. 2, at the indicated sportsbook for the wager.
Charlotte FC vs Toronto FC Preview
Despite outshooting New England 16-9 on Saturday, Charlotte only delivered two shots on target and a single goal in a disappointing 2-1 loss to New England.
Following this loss and a 3-0 loss to Cincinnati, Charlotte remained four points out of a playoff spot. Returning home against the basement-dwelling Reds should however provide a much-needed three-point injection this week.
Despite two goals from team legend and Canadian international Jonathan Osorio, the Reds fell to Cincinnati 3-2 at home on the weekend.
Toronto has cemented their place as the worst team of the season with a 12th loss in their last 13 games and eagerly awaits a much-needed culture change under the new manager John Herdman who takes over before this game.
FC Cincinnati vs New York Red Bulls Preview
Following two road ties and a comprehensive 3-0 win over a strong Charlotte squad, Cincinnati scored three goals again on Saturday and took three points on the road in Toronto.
Finding the net won’t be as easy in this game playing against one of the toughest defensive teams in the league, but their 13-1-1 home record should get them across the line.
The Red Bulls followed their uncharacteristically high-scoring 5-3 road victory over D.C. United with an 18-shot performance at home versus Chicago on the weekend. Unfortunately, they couldn’t find the net and lost the match 1-0.
New York's expected Goal Differential (xGD) of nearly +10 is still third-best in the East, but a road win here is unlikely.
CF Montréal vs Houston Dynamo FC Preview
CF Montréal were badly outplayed in a 3-0 loss in Orlando on Saturday, and they have not won a game in their last six matches.
The team’s xGD (10.4) is easily the worst for a playoff team in the Eastern Conference, and their recent struggles suggest this is a team to avoid this weekend.
The Dynamo have been playing high-level football and have outscored their opponents 16-4 over their last eight games. They were triumphant over Inter Miami in the US Open final and followed that up with a tight 0-0 draw in their Texas rivalry with Dallas on the weekend.
While road wins have been rare this season, this game might be the time to take advantage of longer odds.
- CF Montréal vs HOUSTON DYNAMO PICK: Houston To Win (+165) • FanDuel Sportsbook. The League’s hottest team playing a struggling Montréal team makes these road odds worth it.
New England Revolution vs Columbus Crew Preview
Despite being outshot 16-9 versus Charlotte, New England came away with a fortunate 2-1 win on the weekend.
The large gap between actual (+14) and expected (-0.8) goal differential remains an ongoing concern, but the Revs are undefeated at home all season, so it’s difficult to bet against a result.
Thanks to a 72nd-minute PK goal, Columbus saved a 1-1 draw with Philadelphia on the weekend. Goalscorer Cucho Hernandez continued his torrid September with that goal and has eight goals this month.
The Crew dominated possession versus Philadelphia, and their offense is one of the best in the league, so expect lots of goals in this match.
- NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION vs COLUMBUS CREW PICK: Total Goals Over 3.5 (+160) • FanDuel Sportsbook. Two potent offenses battling for playoff position is a recipe for goals
Philadelphia Union vs Atlanta United Preview
After a fifth consecutive tie on the weekend (1-1 vs Columbus), the Union had only lost four times in their previous 24 matches. The team has struggled a bit on the road this year, with only five wins against seven losses, but this is a battle for home-field advantage later in the playoffs, so expect a competitive match.
Atlanta was dominant in their last match and came away with another three points in a 4-1 win over Montreal. Atlanta is now second in MLS in scoring (61 goals), and they’ve only lost once in their last seven. Their road record (3-5-7) leaves a lot to be desired, so betting for a result here is likely too risky.
Austin FC vs D.C. United Preview
Austin has only won once in their last ten games, and despite outshooting Colorado 13-6 on the weekend, they came away with a 1-0 loss. They will attempt to get back on track versus DC this week, but they are a risky wagering option with their poor recent performance.
While D.C. United has only lost once in their last six matches, and have also only come away with three points in one game in their last ten. They now sit outside the playoff spots and will need to quickly rediscover their winning ways to move back up the standings.
D.C. will be interesting to watch this weekend, but not a team to wager on.
Chicago Fire FC vs Inter Miami CF Preview
After a surprising 1-0 win on the road in New York on the weekend, Chicago won for the first time in eight games since the break. The Fire have only scored three times in their last eight matches, and their recent performance does not inspire increased hope or betting action.
While Messi’s match status is uncertain, the competitive play of the team with or without him, is now no longer in question.
Miami battled through to a 1-1 result with NYCFC, where they only managed a single shot on target despite owning 65% of the ball. They are now within four points of the playoff spots with one game in hand.
- CHICAGO FIRE vs INTER MIAMI CF PICK: Inter Miami to Win (+180) • FanDuel Sportsbook. Miami has been unstoppable when Messi plays and strong without him, so playing a struggling Chicago team makes these odds attractive.
FC Dallas vs Colorado Rapids Preview
Dallas has come out of the break and received points in eight of their first nine games back, including six ties and two wins. They have moved into the playoff picture and threaten to continue moving up if they can continue to complement their strong defense (34 goals allowed) with some offensive results.
The Rapids found the back of the net for the fifth consecutive match and, thanks to a bend-not-break defense, came away with a 1-0 win over Austin.
Expect Colorado to continue to compete and attempt to score a goal in their sixth successive match for the first time this season…but this is not wagering territory.
Nashville SC vs Orlando City SC Preview
Nashville has been falling down the Eastern Conference standings over the last several weeks but seems to have course-corrected recently and are unbeaten in five matches.
It’s premature to bet on a return to their Leagues Cup form just yet, but they are worth monitoring, especially at home, where they are 8-2-4.
After a dominant 3-0 win over Montréal on the weekend, Orlando has now only lost three times in their last 22 matches. This is a team worth watching and supporting when the odds are right, and their road record is one of the best in the league (7-4-4).
LAFC vs Minnesota United FC Preview
LAFC now trailing conference-leading St. Louis CITY by nine points with two games in hand. The team's xGD (+12.8) is still second best in the Western Conference, but they will need to win out their remaining matches to challenge for the division title.
Minnesota’s expected Goal Differential (+8.7) over the season highlights that this team’s performance is for real, and their strong road record (6-7-2) suggests this match will be competitive.
Following a seven-game unbeaten streak, Minnesota has not won in six matches, so it’s difficult to back this recent trend.
Seattle Sounders FC vs Los Angeles Galaxy Preview
The Sounders are now undefeated in six matches, including five games on the road, with their latest being a 0-0 draw with Nashville.
The Sounders xGD (+14.4) continues to lead MLS, and returning home after a successful road trip should inspire the Sounders.
The Galaxy have now lost only twice in their last 14 games. After their fifth successive game scoring multiple goals, the team is building momentum towards a playoff spot, but they still need to make up six points with one game in hand.
Seattle is battling for playoff position, so this match will be competitive and a tough one to back the road team
Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs St Louis CITY SC Preview
Vancouver finished a seven-game road trip with a draw in Colorado midweek and returned home with a 2-2 tie on the weekend. Their tired legs will be motivated to avenge a 3-1 loss to St Louis earlier in the season, and home field should help support them.
The Whitecaps xGD of +10.4 is third in the West, so this game will be exciting.
Despite allowing 18 shots in their last game versus Sporting Kansas City, St. Louis CITY fired 21 of their own shots and came away with a 4-1 win. The team has now only lost once in their last seven and sit comfortably atop the conference.