Kickoff 3.24.23
What you need to know

Almada scores for Argentina as Messi hits 800 career goals

Atlanta United’s star midfielder scored a 78th-minute game-winning goal in Argentina’s first match since winning the FIFA 2022 World Cup, slotting home the rebound from Lionel Messi’s free kick that struck the crossbar. Almada, 21, subbed into Thursday's 2-0 win over Panama at halftime for Brighton midfielder Alexis Mac Allister – only to bag his first senior-level international strike while earning his third cap.

USA vs. Grenada is tonight

The US men’s national team will play their first competitive game since the FIFA 2022 World Cup, The Yanks are prohibitive favorites to defeat the small island nation they routed 5-0 in the reverse fixture in Austin last June.

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You know the drill at this point, just remember the new wrinkle. The Must-Watch Tier will only be occupied by one game per time slot. No overlap allowed. If the game is a must-watch, then having four other games be must-watch at the same time defeats the purpose. We’re here to make your viewing decisions easier. You’re welcome.

*The Plusometer is a scientific way to quantify the potential watchability of any given game on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV, but can and will also be used for all other channels. Using the elements of "Potential for very good/entertainingly bad soccer," "Chances created," "Narrative," "Aesthetics" and "Totally subjective bonus points," I assign each element a score out of 10 and each game a score out of 50. Twenty-five is average potential. Fifty is greatest game of all-time potential. Yes, I do actually calculate each game. No, I don't know why. Respect for the form, maybe?

Tier One: The delightful hum of a soccer broadcast on television
Soccer is nice to have on. And sometimes you look up and see something fun.

Charlotte FC vs. New York Red Bulls - Sat., 7:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass
Plusometer Score: 27/50

Charlotte and New York each picked up their first win of the season last Saturday. Red Bulls games are never all that pretty and Charlotte’s haven’t been either as of late, but it will still be interesting to find out who can keep their first bit of positive momentum of the season going.

Columbus Crew vs. Atlanta United - Sat., 7:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass
Plusometer Score: 26/50

Both of these teams are missing a handful of key players for this one. But you can expect managers Gonzalo Pineda and Wilfried Nancy to stick to their tactical principles. It should still be a well-played game.

D.C. United vs. New England Revolution - Sat., 7:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - Free
Plusometer Score: 23/50

Revs forward Dylan Borrero isn’t around for this one, which took about five points away from the entertainment potential. Still, D.C. have looked decent and New England have looked even better than decent.

Inter Miami CF vs. Chicago Fire FC - Sat., 7:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - Free
Plusometer Score: 22/50

We’re continuing to gather data on what life without Gregore looks like for Inter Miami. It could be a tough one. Especially with Leo Campana still reportedly a ways out from returning to the starting lineup and Josef Martinez away on international duty.

Philadelphia Union vs. Orlando City SC - Sat., 7:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - Free
Plusometer Score: 25/50

Both of these teams will be missing a handful of key players due to the international break. It was never going to be a beautiful game between these two, but maybe it has some potential to go off the rails? It at least might feel relatively consequential in the Eastern Conference.

Austin FC vs. Colorado Rapids - Sat., 8:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass
Plusometer Score: 28/50

This is an exercise in rubbernecking. If the Verde & Black can’t take care of business against a Colorado team that just lost ultra-critical midfielder Jack Price for the season, then things might get uncomfortable down in Austin. Or this could be the moment where they remind everyone they’re still a pretty darn good team.

Houston Dynamo FC vs. New York City FC - Sat., 8:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass
Plusometer Score: 24/50

The Dynamo are looking to build off a huge win over Austin. That might be pretty tough against an NYCFC team that’s looking better and better with Santi Rodriguez and James Sands around.

Minnesota United FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC - Sat., 8:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass
Plusometer Score: 27/50

Minnesota will be missing more than half of their starters in this one. They’ve got a big, big task ahead of them. Any points are good points. Vancouver meanwhile, could really, really use a win. Kind of feels like we’re watching them start in slow motion …again.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Toronto FC - Sat., 10:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass
Plusometer Score: 28/50

The Earthquakes have several key injuries/absences in midfield, while Toronto have a couple of starting midfielders missing due to international duty. With limited crew steering both ships, this could get weird.

Tier Two: The joy of stumbling onto a match you previously weren't invested in but now are
Every now and then, you go into a game not asking for much and come away with more than you ever imagined.

Portland Timbers vs. LA Galaxy - Sat., 4:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - Free, FOX
Plusometer Score: 38/50

It hasn’t been a gentle start for two of the Western Conference’s biggest clubs. Both teams have earned less than a point per game so far. The Timbers are coming off a thumping in Atlanta, while the Galaxy drew with Vancouver last week and are still looking for their first win of 2023. The loser might come out of this one beginning to reach for the panic button. And, well, frankly, that’s just good TV. 

Sporting Kansas City vs. Seattle Sounders FC - Sat., 8:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass
Plusometer Score: 36/50

So far, Sporting KC have been unlucky in the points and goals departments. Seattle are missing a few folks but…you know, it’s Seattle. One time, they won a game with like six teenagers starting. They just win. It should be a good one. And it might just be a chance for SKC to break out of an early rut in a big way.

Tier Three: The satisfaction of expectations being met
Sometimes you want the best and you get it.

Nashville SC vs. FC Cincinnati - Sat., 8:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - Free
Plusometer Score: 40/50

Will this game be “fun”? I don’t know. Nashville don’t necessarily aim for entertainment. But Cincy are perhaps the kind of attacking team that brings some end-to-end stuff out of them. At the very least, it’s the kind of game where a clash of styles provides entertainment value. There are also some of MLS’s biggest stars, ranging from Hany Mukhtar to Brandon Vazquez. 

Real Salt Lake vs. St. Louis CITY SC - Sat., 9:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - Free
Plusometer Score: 42/50


This is Rudy from that football movie about Notre Dame going up in a cage match against a clone of Rudy. Who will win? You will, dear reader. You will. 

LAFC vs. FC Dallas - Sat., 10:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass
Plusometer Score: 40/50

FC Dallas have been a team on the edge of breaking into the West’s top-top tier ever since manager Nico Estevez arrived last year. But they haven’t broken through. If they can’t take down a slightly depleted LAFC team,  it might be fair to wonder if they’ll ever be able to do it.

Other Things

Real Salt Lake sign captain Damir Kreilach to contract extension: Real Salt Lake have signed captain and midfielder Damir Kreilach to a contract extension through the 2024 MLS season. The 33-year-old, who’s held a Designated Player roster spot, originally joined RSL in 2018 from German side Union Berlin. He has 44 goals and 24 assists in 127 games since then.

CF Montréal sign defender Waterman to contract extension: CF Montréal have signed defender Joel Waterman to a new contract through the 2024 MLS season with an option for 2025. Waterman first joined Montréal in 2020 from Canadian Premier League side Cavalry FC.

Philadelphia Union extend homegrown defender Nathan Harriel: The Philadelphia Union have secured defender Nathan Harriel for the long-term, announcing Thursday they signed their homegrown player to a new contract. The 21-year-old right back's new deal will keep him at the club through the 2025 MLS season, with options for 2026 and 2027.

The Reading Rainbow
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Good luck out there. Hey, new kits dropped (virtually).