Kickoff - 9.29.23
What you need to know

RSL sign Glad to new contract

Real Salt Lake have signed center back Justen Glad to a contract extension through the 2026 MLS season with an option for 2027. The 26-year-old homegrown defender is RSL’s longest-tenured player. He first signed with the club in April 2014 and has since tallied 13 goals and one assist in 212 games (206 starts).

Red Bulls sign Reyes to new contract

The New York Red Bulls have signed center back Andrés Reyes to a new MLS contract starting in 2024. His deal runs through the 2026 season with an option for 2027. The 23-year-old Colombian defender is competing in his fourth MLS season (third with New York) after initially coming stateside in 2020 for Inter Miami CF’s expansion campaign. He has four goals and one assist in 70 games (63 starts).

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Back to it. Just a few matchdays left.

*The Plusometer is a scientific way to quantify the potential watchability of any given game on Apple TV - MLS Season Pass, 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 calculate each game. No, I don't know why.

**We also add a “Playoffocity” value to each game. The closer to 50, the closer it is to a winner gets in/loser goes home game on Decision Day. The closer a game’s total score is to 100, the closer it is to being basically last year’s MLS Cup. 

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.

New York Red Bulls vs. Chicago Fire FC

WATCH: Apple TV - Free | Saturday, 7:30 pm ET
Plusometer Score: 19/50 | Playoffocity: 30/50

This game doesn’t hold much punch, yet it is impactful in the Eastern Conference’s Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs race. Both of these teams are still in contention for a Wild Card spot despite struggling over the last few weeks. In particular, Chicago have been spiraling. They haven’t won an MLS game since July 15.

Colorado Rapids vs. Austin FC

WATCH: Apple TV - Free | Saturday, 9:30 pm ET
Plusometer Score: 15/50 | Playoffocity: 10/50

A playoffocity 10 feels generous. But Austin technically have some life left. Unfortunately, there’s a five-point gap between them and ninth place in the Western Conference with four games to go. Plus, Austin haven’t won a game since July 15. That includes Leagues Cup.

LA Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers

WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 10:30 pm ET
Plusometer Score: 28/50 | Playoffocity: 21/50

The Galaxy’s hopes are hanging on by a thread amid a laundry list of key injuries, but Portland (somehow) seem to have a playoff spot nearly locked up. The Timbers have been one of the hottest teams in the league since turning to interim coach Miles Joseph. They could genuinely end the weekend at third in the West.

The West is…neat.

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.

Toronto FC vs. FC Cincinnati

WATCH: Apple TV - Free | Saturday, 7:30 pm ET
Plusometer Score: 30/50 | Playoffocity: 0/50

This one’s got our first playoffocity zero of the year. Toronto are already eliminated from contention, only hoping to play spoiler from here on out and before their John Herdman era begins.

But the reason this bumps into Tier Two is Cincy can win the Supporters’ Shield! All it takes is a win at BMO Field, which seems entirely realistic. Oh, how times have changed.

Inter Miami CF vs. New York City FC

WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 7:30 pm ET
Plusometer Score: 33/50 | Playoffocity: 40/50

NYCFC have begun to string together competent attacking performances. They’ve scored eight times in the last five games, by far their best stretch of the season. They’re putting it together at the right time and have allowed just one goal in this unbeaten run.

Inter Miami will probably feel like NYCFC could have had better timing on their big resurgence. The Herons are running out of time to play catch-up. A few weeks ago, this game felt very winnable. Now, not so much. Not coming off a midweek loss in the US Open Cup Final. And not (potentially) without multiple key players. There’s a chance they could end the night eight points out of ninth in the East with four games left.

New England Revolution vs. Charlotte FC

WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 7:30 pm ET
Plusometer Score: 23/50 | Playoffocity: 34/50

The window is open for New England to seriously push for a top-four spot. They have a game in hand on everyone they’re chasing and Charlotte haven’t been at their best lately. This could pretty much be the end of the line for CLTFC if they don’t pull something out on the road. Maybe they’ll play like a team with their backs up against the wall.

Orlando City SC vs. CF Montréal

WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 7:30 pm ET
Plusometer Score: 36/50 | Playoffocity: 35/50

Orlando followed up their big win over Columbus a couple of weeks ago with a loss to NYCFC and a home draw with Inter Miami. That’s enough (for now) to keep them in second place, but it also makes this one feel like a must-win. Montréal have been, um, poor on the road all season. Like, tied for the most road losses in the league (11) kind of poor. The Lions need to take care of business here as they fight for a top-four spot.

St. Louis CITY SC vs. Sporting Kansas City

WATCH: Apple TV - Free | Saturday, 8:30 pm ET
Plusometer Score: 31/50 | Playoffocity: 27/50

We’ve got a budding rivalry game here with stakes on both sides. St. Louis can take one more step towards claiming the top spot in the West, while SKC are hoping to keep playoff dreams alive. Sporting could end up in a Wild Card place by the end of the weekend if they pull off the upset.

Nashville SC vs. Seattle Sounders FC

WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 8:30 pm ET
Plusometer Score: 35/50 | Playoffocity: 29/50

This would normally be a Tier Three matchup, but both teams have hovered in “good not great” territory for a while now. Neither team feels like a genuine MLS Cup contender at the moment. But we know the baseline here is that we’ll get a well-played game between two of the league’s better rosters.

Minnesota United FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes

WATCH: Apple TV - Free | Saturday, 8:30 pm ET
Plusometer Score: 25/50 | Playoffocity: 33/50

The Earthquakes are going to find themselves in a ton of trouble if they drop this one. They could drop below the playoff line. The Loons could stay stuck below the playoff line and I’m going to complain even more about their inability to win at home. So. Both teams have a lot of incentive here.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. D.C. United

WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 10:30 pm ET
Plusometer Score: 26/50 | Playoffocity: 30/50

I’ll be honest: It feels a bit like I’m starting to write the same thing over and over again. Both teams need to win to help their playoff odds. They probably aren’t going to win anything once they get there, but playoffs are fun! And it’s always fun to watch a “Traded Julian Gressel For Some Reason” Derby.

LAFC vs. Real Salt Lake

WATCH: Apple TV - Free, FS1 | Sunday, 8:00 pm ET
Plusometer Score: 31/50 | Playoffocity: 39/50

Man, like two months ago this would have been huge. But LAFC have played three straight 0-0 games, RSL haven’t looked remotely the same since Pablo Ruiz’s injury and neither team feels all that dangerous. Both teams have just two wins since Leagues Cup. Still, LAFC are in a home playoff spot and RSL are narrowly outside one. Also: LAFC could drop out of the top four by the end of the weekend and RSL could be stuck in a Wild Card spot.

The West is…neat.

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

Columbus Crew vs. Philadelphia Union

WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 7:30 pm ET
Plusometer Score: 47/50 | Playoffocity: 42/50

Could I interest you in a playoff preview between genuine MLS Cup contenders? This one should be the best game of the weekend if both teams play up to their standards. There’s plenty of incentive to do that, too. One point separates these clubs as they jostle for a top-four spot in the East.

Please, please don’t disappoint me like Philly-LAFC did last week.

Houston Dynamo FC vs. FC Dallas

WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 8:30 pm ET
Plusometer Score: 39/50 | Playoffocity: 46/50

FC Dallas are hoping to take full advantage of Houston’s potential post-US Open Cup hangover. It would be totally understandable for the Dynamo to come out flat after winning a trophy. It feels like this particular matchup comes at the right time, though. It’s a little easier to get up for a rivalry game.

And it’s a game where both teams have plenty at stake. Dallas are trying to claw their way out of ninth place and the Dynamo are right on the edge of a home playoff spot. A Dallas win could put them into sixth, while a Houston win could put them into second.

The West is…neat.

Other Things

MLS NEXT Pro 2023 award winners: MLS NEXT Pro has announced the winners of three regular-season awards, including Coach of the Year, Goalkeeper of the Year and the competition's Best XI.

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Good luck out there. Make sure they remember your name.