Kickoff - 3.17.23
What you need to know

Philadelphia Union give positive update on injured Andre Blake

The Philadelphia Union won't be without Andre Blake for too much longer, head coach Jim Curtin revealed Thursday when providing an injury update on their All-Star goalkeeper. The 32-year-old Jamaican international exited Saturday's 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire with a non-contact injury, but his prognosis is positive and he could return as soon as Matchday 5, when the Union host Orlando City SC on March 25.

Canada name 23-man roster for Concacaf Nations League games in March

Canada have announced their first squad since participating in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, calling up 23 players for this month's Concacaf Nations League games. Head coach John Herdman’s group includes six MLS players, including four from Toronto FC.

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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.

CF Montréal vs. Philadelphia Union - Sat., 7:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass
Plusometer Score: 25/50

It hasn’t been pretty for CF Montréal so far. Maybe their fortunes will change now that they’re back at home for the first time all season. Orrrrrrrr you could be tuning into this to see a classic Philadelphia Union beatdown game. Could go either way.

New York City FC vs. D.C. United - Sat., 7:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass
Plusometer Score: 28/50

It feels like we’re still trying to figure out a whole lot about both of these teams. We know a bit more about where NYCFC are heading, but D.C. United are at least playing intriguing games so far. You might learn something if you watch this one.

Orlando City SC vs. Charlotte FC - Sat., 7:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass
Plusometer Score: 24/50

Orlando, on short rest after Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 play, versus a struggling Charlotte team. This is for a very cultured type of MLS watcher who appreciates beauty in the struggle.

Toronto FC vs. Inter Miami CF - Sat., 7:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - Free
Plusometer Score: 25/50

Inter Miami are without injured midfielder/captain Gregore for a long, long time (about six months). That will have a major impact on everything they do. It’ll be interesting to see how they respond without him in test No. 1 against a Toronto team dealing with injuries of their own.

Chicago Fire FC vs. FC Cincinnati - Sat., 8:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass
Plusometer Score: 27/50

We still know next to nothing about this Chicago team. And we’re still waiting for Cincy’s attack to truly break out. Maybe we learn something; maybe we see Brandon Vazquez/Brenner/Luciano Acosta take off; maybe both.

FC Dallas vs. Sporting Kansas City - Sat., 8:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - Free
Plusometer Score: 29/50

FC Dallas seem to reserve their best games for the Galaxy, but perhaps SKC can bring out some energy in them. It at least feels like SKC are due for a game with a whole lot of goals. They have a ton of shots and no end product to show for it (yet).

Colorado Rapids vs. Minnesota United FC - Sat., 9:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - Free
Plusometer Score: 24/50

The Rapids are also still looking for their first goal of the year. Minnesota are still trying to prove they don’t even need Emanuel Reynoso. There should at least be a sense of urgency from both sides. Hopefully.

LA Galaxy vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC - Sat., 10:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - Free
Plusometer Score: 26/50

The Whitecaps weren’t too concerned with CCL this week and should be good to go, at relatively full strength, for a tough road trip. Well, for what seemed like it might be a tough road trip. The Galaxy have struggled to start the year. This home game should give LA a much-needed boost.

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.

Atlanta United vs. Portland Timbers - Sat., 7:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass
Plusometer Score: 31/50

There’s some intrigue here as Atlanta start to look more like Atlanta and because we don’t get to see this matchup all that often. Don’t expect Portland to come out guns blazing or anything, but you can at least expect a crowd eager to make things feel a bit more like 2018.

New England Revolution vs. Nashville SC - Sat., 7:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass
Plusometer Score: 33/50

It’s hard for me to recommend Nashville games with confidence, but the truth is we’re looking at two probable Audi MLS Cup Playoffs teams here. We may not get a battle of the last two Landon Donovan MLS MVPs, though. New England playmaker Carles Gil is carrying a muscle injury. At least Nashville star Hany Mukhtar seems likely to start his second game of 2023.

New York Red Bulls vs. Columbus Crew - Sat., 7:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass
Plusometer Score: 32/50

Energy Drink Soccer should be a fun tactical challenge for Crew head coach Wilfried Nancy to solve. We know the Red Bulls’ offense is struggling to click, but all that talent has to coalesce sooner or later … right?

Houston Dynamo FC vs. Austin FC - Sat., 8:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - Free
Plusometer Score: 34/50

Texas fight! These kinds of rivalries are worth tuning in for, even if Austin are coming off a CCL upset for the ages and the Houston rebuild is still … let’s call it ongoing.

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

Seattle Sounders FC vs. LAFC - Sat., 4:00 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - Free, FOX
Plusometer Score: 48/50

How much of a sell do you actually need for this one? Two of the biggest clubs in the league, ones who won major trophies in 2022 and have had some of the best starts in the league, are going head-to-head in a time slot all to themselves. It’s as must-see as MLS games get.

St. Louis CITY SC vs. San Jose Earthquakes - Sat., 8:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass
Plusometer Score: 44/50

CITY SC are good! The Earthquakes are good! And the St. Louis/CITYPARK crowd should continue to be absolutely insane. I kind of feel like San Jose are good enough to fight through whatever magic St. Louis have left, but that could be a big ask. At the very least, we’ve come to expect something special from St. Louis games so far this year. That’s … remarkable.

Other Things

NYCFC sign homegrown midfielder Jonathan Shore: New York City FC have signed homegrown midfielder Jonathan Shore through the 2027 MLS season with an option for 2028. The 15-year-old New York City native is the 11th homegrown signing since NYCFC’s academy began in 2015. He joined the program in 2017 as a 10-year-old and progressed through the various age groups, making two appearances in MLS NEXT Pro last season for NYCFC II.

Inter Miami sign midfielder Duke to extension: Inter Miami CF have signed midfielder Bryce Duke to a contract extension through the 2025 MLS season with an option for 2026. Acquired in a trade with LAFC in early 2022, the 22-year-old led the Herons with seven assists last season, adding a goal in 29 total appearances. This season, Duke has featured three times off the bench as Miami have put together a 2W-1L-0D record over three matchdays.

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Good luck out there. Leave your mark.