Predictions! Who will win on MLS is Back weekend?


Two days. Fourteen games. MLS is Back.

Opening weekend of the 2024 season is here, and we're wading into the predictions business. ICYMI: MLS Season Pass talent already offered their season-long takes for awards/trophies and conference standings.

But now we're going game by game, at risk of this turning into bulletin-board material. This will either go swimmingly or turn pear-shaped really fast (gulp).

Columbus Crew vs. Atlanta United

The last time the Crew played at Field, they lifted the club's third MLS Cup. So we're getting a banner unveiling/raising on Saturday – and that extra motivation gives Cucho Hernández, Aidan Morris & Co. a narrow boost over Thiago Almada, Giorgos Giakoumakis & Co.

PREDICTION: 3-2 Columbus win

LAFC vs. Seattle Sounders FC

  • WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 24 - 4:45 pm ET
  • WATCH: Apple TV - Free; FOX & FOX Deportes

These are, in my opinion, the West's teams to beat in 2024. And while Seattle are set to debut marquee signing Pedro de la Vega, Dénis Bouanga is the reigning Golden Boot winner for a reason. Advantage LAFC, even after their offseason turnover.


Charlotte FC vs. New York City FC

Charlotte's roster is incomplete, only entering the season with one DP (Enzo Copetti) as head coach Dean Smith takes over. NYCFC's turbo-charged attack is still integrating newcomers Jovan Mijatović, Agustín Ojeda and Hannes Wolf. Sounds like a stalemate to me, even with a massive crowd expected at Bank of America Stadium (60,000+).

PREDICTION: 1-1 draw

Philadelphia Union vs. Chicago Fire FC

Philadelphia played a Concacaf Champions Cup match midweek in Costa Rica, riding Julián Carranza's hat-trick to a 3-2 win over Saprissa. Now, it's the Union's Andre Blake-anchored defense that stands firm and limits club-record signing Hugo Cuypers on what's likely his Chicago debut.

PREDICTION: 1-0 Philadelphia win

Orlando City SC vs. CF Montréal

Luis Muriel's not guaranteed to debut this weekend, but Orlando have plenty of star power even if he doesn't. Facundo Torres, Martín Ojeda, Duncan McGuire, Iván Angulo, Nico Lodeiro, Ramiro Enrique… this team is loaded. And thus primed to spoil Laurent Courtois' first game as Montréal's head coach.

PREDICTION: 2-0 Orlando win

D.C. United vs. New England Revolution

New England are coming off a gritty Concacaf Champions Cup midweek victory in Panama, whereby DP winger Tomás Chancalay picked up right where he left off (i.e. scoring class goals). With that confidence boost, the Revs put in a professional performance to sour D.C. United's home opener (but note: D.C. manager Troy Lesesne has a carryover one-game suspension).

PREDICTION: 2-1 New England win

Austin FC vs. Minnesota United FC

Minnesota are down Emanuel Reynoso this weekend (knee injury), taking the spice out of their attack. That opens the door for his No. 10 counterpart, Austin captain Sebastián Driussi, to get a game-winner at Q2 Stadium.

PREDICTION: 1-0 Austin win

St. Louis CITY SC vs. Real Salt Lake

St. Louis, where dreams are made of. That was the case midweek for SuperDraft pick Hosei Kijima in their Concacaf Champions Cup win over Houston, scoring a 90th-minute winner. Less drama is required this weekend at CITYPARK, perhaps to the tune of a João Klauss brace.

PREDICTION: 3-1 St. Louis win

Houston Dynamo FC vs. Sporting Kansas City

Houston are dealing with injuries to DPs Héctor Herrera and Sebastián Ferreira. Minus those top-end roster pieces, the door's open for Sporting KC and Alan Pulido to join the "road win" party on opening weekend.

PREDICTION: 2-1 Sporting KC win

FC Dallas vs. San Jose Earthquakes

As of writing, FC Dallas striker Petar Musa is not available to debut (work visa). Beyond the club-record signing from Benfica, it sounds like homegrowns Jesús Ferreira and Paxton Pomykal are doubts for the home opener. That creates an opportunity for San Jose's Cristian Espinoza-led attack, but neither team pulls away.

PREDICTION: 1-1 draw

Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids

The Rapids had a transformative offseason, highlighted by signing a USMNT trio – goalkeeper Zack Steffen, defender Sam Vines and midfielder Djordje Mihailovic – to lead Chris Armas' new-look squad. That momentum is enough to stun Portland, who are still pursuing DP targets to play alongside Evander as life begins under manager Phil Neville.

PREDICTION: 2-1 Colorado win

FC Cincinnati vs. Toronto FC

FC Cincinnati are in roster flux, but let's not kid ourselves. The reigning Supporters' Shield champions still have Luciano Acosta pulling the strings, and striker Aaron Boupendza is poised for a year-two bump. Toronto, even if manager John Herdman gets DPs Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi bought in, have too many questions to answer for an upset.

PREDICTION: 2-0 Cincinnati win

Nashville SC vs. New York Red Bulls

I can see the headlines now: One goal and one assist for Emil Forsberg, powering a road win for the Red Bulls. Nashville's Hany Mukhtar will have his say, but the hosts don't get a season-opening party in the Music City.

PREDICTION: 2-1 New York win

LA Galaxy vs. Inter Miami CF

The last time Messi Mania went to Hollywood, Inter Miami won 3-1 over LAFC as celebrities ranging from Selena Gomez to Leonardo DiCaprio watched on. It was a true spectacle.

Does a similar scene await at Dignity Health Sports Park? LA, who likely debut Gabriel Pec but are waiting to see if Joseph Paintsil can feature, sure hope not. But Miami, even with all their preseason travel, are still the favorite. We could see Messi and Luis Suárez both opening their 2024 ledger.

PREDICTION: 3-1 Inter Miami win