The March international break is over. Full rosters await, as Matt Doyle noted in his weekend set-up piece (injuries and fitness notwithstanding).
Whether it's a key player or something interesting developing, here's an area to focus on during each of Saturday's 14 games.
Matchday 6 is next.
Key watch info
As some schedule listing reminders…
- 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.
If you want to keep track of everything…
- Tune into the MLS 360 whip-around show for live look-ins and analysis of all the key moments from every match.
- We've also got MLS Countdown as a lead-in and MLS Wrap-Up at the end of the night.
Select games are still viewable via national TV partners in USA and Canada, but gone are regional and local broadcasts. Instead, MLS Season Pass brings no blackouts (any device/any location) and multiple commentary options: English, Spanish, French (Canadian teams) and a club’s home radio broadcast.
Atlanta: Yes, Miles Robinson is back from USMNT duty. But so is Thiago Almada after scoring for Argentina, and the early Landon Donovan MLS MVP frontrunner is appointment viewing nowadays. That potential transfer fee seems to keep on rising…
New York: Come for the bleach-blonde mullet, stay for the high-pressing transition moments. Homegrown left back John Tolkin is pure entertainment and tailor-made for RBNY’s tactical system. The 20-year-old could get transferred abroad this summer.
Cincinnati: Brandon Vazquez opened his 2023 scoring account last weekend, a moment that he said “felt like a bunch of weight off my shoulders.” After a Best XI presented by Continental Tire season with 18g/8a in 33 games, the striker’s just getting going for Cincy.
Miami: For the Herons to pull off an upset at TQL Stadium, they’ll likely need a big-time performance from goalkeeper Drake Callender. His 23 saves are the third-most in MLS this season.
Columbus: Christian Ramirez bagged a brace during his Crew debut last weekend, marking his MLS return after nearly two years in Scotland. With Cucho Hernández (knee) still sidelined, the veteran No. 9 needs to ride this good form.
Salt Lake: In this three-game losing streak, RSL need to stop the bleeding. That’s where a leader like Damir Kreilach steps in, beyond any singular on-field contribution.
- WATCH: Apple TV - Free, FOX | Saturday, 7:30 pm ET
LA: Those rumors of Douglas Costa returning to Gremio? Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney categorically called them “not true” and “nonsense” at training midweek, saying the DP winger could make his 2023 debut after an injury previously sidelined him. The former Brazilian international could jumpstart LA’s offense, which has a league-low two goals scored.
Seattle: Let’s not overthink this. Jordan Morris is coming off a four-goal showing that earned him Player of the Matchday presented by Continental Tire honors. The Golden Boot presented by Audi leader (7g) is simply in fantastic form for Seattle.
New England: Gustavo Bou, after a delayed introduction to the Revs’ 2023 season, has struck for goals in back-to-back games. The 33-year-old Argentine striker, now in his fifth MLS season, remains a productive sharpshooter.
New York City: When James Sands is playing as a defensive midfielder, NYCFC’s ceiling is raised considerably. He dropped to a center-back role last weekend with Maxime Chanot away on international duty, a short-term solution that many Cityzens fans will hope was short-lived.
Orlando: Martín Ojeda, after five goalless games to start his Orlando City career, has scored in back-to-back games. The Argentine attacker, signed for a near-club-record fee this offseason from Argentine side Godoy Cruz, easily has the talent for 15-20 goal contributions this year.
Nashville: Shut out in three of their last four games, Nashville are longing for a final-third breakthrough this weekend. As is often the case, that plan starts and stops with reigning MVP and Golden Boot winner Hany Mukhtar.
Philadelphia: Andre Blake is primed to return from his groin injury sooner than was feared when the reigning Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year got hurt on March 11. Amid a rare two-game losing streak, it’s a timely boost for the Union.
Kansas City: Last weekend, after making his return from injury, SKC captain Johnny Russell was asked about his message to fans: “It's up to us. We have to show something. We have to show that we want to be here. We're willing to fight for this club. We want to get this club back to where we feel it should be: top side of the table, challenging for things, winning silverware. That's what this club is used to.” Here’s their chance to start amid a 0W-3L-2D start.
Toronto: After going 180 combined minutes in two games for Canada during the March international break, Jonathan Osorio’s role might be limited. But the 30-year-old midfielder, who’s on the verge of reaching 19,000 regular-season minutes, is no stranger to digging deep for his hometown Reds.
Charlotte: Back from international duty with Poland, where does Karol Swiderski fit in after being dropped to the bench in Matchday 4? He scored against Albania in Euro qualifiers and is arguably Charlotte’s most talented player; surely there’s a tactical solution that features the No. 11 in the starting lineup.
- WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 8:30 pm ET
Chicago: In some capacity, it sounds like Xherdan Shaqiri is going to return from injury this weekend. But with homegrown midfielder Brian Gutiérrez posting two straight assists in the No. 10 role, Fire head coach Ezra Hendrickson might keep the US youth international centrally. As Shaqiri plays with Switzerland, that could mean the club-record signing heads to the wing.
D.C.: It didn’t get a ton of attention, but DP forward Taxi Fountas made his 2023 debut last weekend in a 22-minute runout. The Greek international had two shots on target and should gave the Black-and-Red a one-two punch alongside leading scorer Christian Benteke (at least that’s how it’s designed on paper).
- WATCH: Apple TV - Free | Saturday, 8:30 pm ET
Dallas: Head coach Nico Estevez, speaking midweek, said that midfielder Sebastian Lletget is training with FCD and is ready to play after missing the club’s last game for personal reasons. We’ll see how much Lletget can give, but he’s so crucial in making their possession-based style work.
Portland: Timbers head coach Gio Savarese has confirmed goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic will start this weekend after David Bingham picked up a hamstring injury. That comes after some, let’s call it controversy, unfolded in the press last week following comments from Portland’s 2022 starter. When in form, the Slovenian is a game-changer.
- WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 8:30 pm ET
St. Louis: João Klauss sits second in the Golden Boot race with 5g/2a, a huge part of the expansion club’s league-leading start (15 of 15 points available). On a star-less team, the Brazilian striker is certainly backing up the Designated Player roster slot he occupies in St. Louis – and then some.
Minnesota: All reports point to Sang Bin Jeong debuting for the Loons this weekend. The South Korean international forward, signed last week on a U22 Initiative deal from Premier League side Wolves, is a big piece of Minnesota’s attacking puzzle in the continued absence of Emanuel Reynoso.
- WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 9:30 pm ET
Colorado: It’s been lost amid Colorado’s winless start (0W-3L-2D), but homegrown midfielder Cole Bassett has been pretty solid with 1g/0a, eight shots and nine key passes. Bassett’s time in the Eredivisie didn’t quite pan out, yet his talent is clear. There’s a reason Feyenoord came calling and he’s on the USMNT fringes.
LAFC: Timothy Tillman’s offseason arrival flew under the radar a little bit, but he’s been stellar for the Black & Gold. The former Bundesliga midfielder has two goals in four games for the defending Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup champions. With depth across the board, Tillman’s remarkably not a guaranteed starter for LAFC.
- WATCH: Apple TV - Free | Saturday, 10:30 pm ET
San Jose: The top chance-creator in MLS is a No. 10 who, contrary to the norm, doesn't play centrally for his club. That title instead belongs to Earthquakes winger Cristian Espinoza, whose 16 key passes lead the league. The Argentine attacking hub has 1g/2a through five games as well.
Houston: What’s up with Sebastián Ferreira? The DP striker, Houston’s leading scorer last year with 13g/3a in 31 matches, has come off the bench in the club’s last three games (48 minutes total). The Dynamo have won back-to-back games, so it’s hard to critique too much. But it’s a noteworthy development nonetheless as new head coach Ben Olsen shapes the lineup.
- WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 10:30 pm ET
Vancouver: Is Simon Becher more than a late-game substitute? The MLS NEXT Pro-promoted striker has scored in both of his only MLS appearances (2g/0a in 28 minutes) for Vancouver and could benefit from an extended run-out with DP Sergio Córdova still sidelined by injury.
Montréal: Coming off a bye week, Montréal need Quioto to not miss a beat after playing nearly 150 minutes for Honduras during the March international break. The striker scored twice in MTL’s first win of 2023, that dramatic 3-2 comeback over Philly, and he'll be counted on heavily – even if it means he comes off the bench on short rest.
Top storylines heading into Matchday 6 | Headlines