Daily Kickoff - 5.3.24
What you need to know

Cincy striker Boupendza out with broken jaw

FC Cincinnati striker Aaron Boupendza is expected to miss 6-8 weeks while recovering from a broken jaw that he suffered in an off-field injury. The Gabonese international joined Cincy last summer as a Designated Player, arriving from Saudi Pro League side Al-Shabab FC.

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So That’s It, Huh? Are We Some Kind Of Watchgridometer Squad?

All MLS games are worth watching. Some are worth watching more. The Watchgridometer is here to help you plan your matchday by giving each game a potential watchability score. A 50/50 game has “best game of all time” potential. Games are ranked in order compared to their time slot.

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

Inter Miami CF vs. New York Red Bulls
WATCH: Apple TV - Free | Saturday, 7:30 pm ET
Watchability Score: 45/50

Does anyone remember how this went the first time? We’re going to guess Inter Miami didn’t appreciate getting dump-trucked up in Harrison in a monsoon. They’ll be up for this one.

But what if New York found an approach that works during their 4-0 win back in March? Inter Miami didn’t have Lionel Messi that day, but it’s still one of the most notable and comprehensive wins of the 2024 season. Aura won’t mystify the Red Bulls here, and we should get two of the best teams in the league going full throttle.

D.C. United vs. Philadelphia Union
WATCH: Apple TV - Free | Saturday, 7:30 pm ET

Watchability Score: 42/50

Do you like car crashes? Do you like car crashes at high speed? Do you like watching them happen repeatedly until someone escapes from the wreckage with an open chance on goal? We have a game for you – the most transition-filled matchup of the week comes between two of the Eastern Conference’s best in a moment where both are trying to find themselves.

D.C. United haven’t lived up to their excellent underlying numbers yet and are still learning how to close out games. Philadelphia are starting to veer from their typically pre-determined path in a way that seems kind of surreal? There’s drama, cryptic social media posts from players and home losses – everything suddenly seems to be hanging by a thread. If their third straight loss comes in a rivalry game, it might be time to start asking questions.

Atlanta United vs. Minnesota United FC
WATCH: Apple TV - Free | Saturday, 7:30 pm ET

Watchability Score: 40/50

You may not realize it, but these are two of the best teams in the league per the underlying numbers. And both teams are fascinating. Atlanta United haven’t touched their ceiling yet and are trying to find their way. Minnesota are on the verge of compiling one of their best seasons ever despite the Emanuel Reynoso situation. Normally, this might have been the Watchgridometer’s highest-rated game.

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.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. LAFC
WATCH: Apple TV - Free | Saturday, 7:30 pm ET

Watchability Score: 37/50

Ignore the standings for a bit and look to the scoreboard. This could end 5-4.

San Jose’s biggest issues this year haven’t been in attack. Allowing a league-worst 25 goals in 10 games… that seems to be a significant problem. The good news is that’s an Earthquakes problem, not a neutral viewer problem.

Orlando City SC vs. FC Cincinnati
WATCH: Apple TV - Free | Saturday, 7:30 pm ET

Watchability Score: 35/50

This one suffers on the Watchgridometer due to a lack of goalscoring potential, but it’s still a matchup between last year’s first and second-place teams in the Supporters’ Shield standings. Even if Orlando have looked well off that pace, last year counts for something, right?

Look, the bottom line is Orlando must start getting back on track ASAP. They have nine points in nine games and haven’t looked like a playoff-caliber team in 2024. A matchup with second-place Cincy is coming at a bad time. They’ll need to get it together. Quickly.

Houston Dynamo FC vs. St. Louis CITY SC
WATCH: Apple TV - Free | Saturday, 8:30 pm ET
Watchability Score: 30/50

Houston got Héctor Herrera back, extended Ben Olsen’s contract and immediately faceplanted against their two in-state rivals. Weird stuff. Maybe they can sort it out against a St. Louis side that isn’t quite good, but definitely isn’t bad. Herrera making his first start since returning from injury could go a long way toward that.

Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas City
WATCH: Apple TV - Free | Saturday, 9:30 pm ET
Watchability Score: 38/50

Chicho Arango seems like a stone-cold lock for a goal contribution against a Sporting KC defense that’s allowed 15 goals in their last six games. This game seems like a lock for multiple goals. RSL seem like a lock for the playoffs. SKC seem like… a team that could really use a win. That will be hard to come by against the team leading the Western Conference.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Austin FC
WATCH: Apple TV - Free; TSN, RDS | Saturday, 10:30 pm ET
Watchability Score: 35/50

Austin are doing that thing again. That means they’re suddenly one of the most interesting teams in the league. If they can go on the road and pull off a fifth win in six games despite traveling to face an excellent ‘Caps side, it will officially be time to concede underlying numbers are pointless and we should never have looked at them anyway or even invented them.

New York City FC vs. Colorado Rapids
WATCH: Apple TV - Free | Sunday, 4:00 pm ET
Watchability Score: 34/50

This is quietly one of the better games of Matchday 12 now that New York City have found their way. They’ve earned 10 points across four straight home games. Their five-game home stand ends against a Rapids side that’s won three of their last five.

Seattle Sounders FC vs. LA Galaxy
WATCH: Apple TV - Free; FS1, FOX Deportes; TSN | Sunday, 6:45 pm ET
Watchability Score: 38/50

The Seattle we saw in the first half against Philadelphia on Tuesday looked like a Seattle fully prepared to rebound and fulfill their potential. The Seattle we saw in the second half against Philadelphia on Tuesday looked like a team fully prepared to squander anything good that happens to them this season. It’s worth tuning in to see which one shows up against a Galaxy side that needs to bounce back from last week’s loss at Austin.

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. Portland Timbers
WATCH: Apple TV - Free | Saturday, 7:30 pm ET
Watchability Score: 29/50

Maybe the Timbers' porous defense can unlock a Charlotte attack that’s riding the struggle bus. The Crown are second to last in goals scored (10) in the East. That hasn’t stopped them from getting results at home this year, though.

Toronto FC vs. FC Dallas
WATCH: Apple TV - Free; TSN, RDS | Saturday, 7:30 pm ET
Watchability Score: 25/50

Toronto are coming off a huge comeback win at Orlando City… but I’m still not sold on them as a playoff team. If you’re tuning into this one, you’re going to see if Toronto striker Prince Owusu can stay hot. Or maybe you want to see if Dallas can win a second straight game?

Chicago Fire FC vs. New England Revolution
WATCH: Apple TV - Free | Saturday, 8:30 pm ET
Watchability Score: 20/50

The Sickos Game of the Week. (The year?)

Nashville SC vs. CF Montréal
WATCH: Apple TV - Free | Saturday, 8:30 pm ET
Watchability Score: 23/50

Nashville are straight-up not fun to watch right now and CF Montréal have injuries across the front line. Godspeed to all involved.

The Reading Rainbow
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Good luck out there. Clear your calendar.