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What you need to know

2022 MLS offseason calendar for player moves announced

Expansion drafts! Free agency! Re-entry Process, Stage 2! It’s all here.

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THE ANTEPENULTIMATE WATCHGRIDOMETER

Every single team is playing before one last international break. The Watchgridometer is here to guide you.

As we head down the stretch run, we’ve also added a “Playoffocity” score that measures how much impact the game will have on the playoff race.

Look: Tier One games = good, Tier Three games = great. That’s all you need to know.

The Plusometer is a scientific way to quantify the potential watchability of any given game on MLS LIVE on ESPN+, 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.

Chicago Fire FC vs. Charlotte FC

  • WHEN: Sat., 8:00 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 24/50
  • Playoffocity: 8/50

Charlotte kind of sort of have a bit of playoff hope left? I mean, they aren’t officially eliminated.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. FC Dallas

  • WHEN: Sat., 10:30 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 23/50
  • Playoffocity: 4/50

If Dallas take care of business here, we can go ahead and pencil them in for a home playoff spot. And they really should take care of business here.

LAFC vs. Houston Dynamo FC

  • WHEN: Sun., 10:30 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 26/50
  • Playoffocity: 0/50

This has zero playoff stakes but you can bet the folks in Philadelphia will be paying close attention to this on Sunday night. If LAFC drop points after a Philly win in Atlanta, that’s a virtual wrap on the Supporters' Shield race.

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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.

New York City FC vs. New York Red Bulls

  • WHEN: Sat., 1:00 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 47/50
  • Playoffocity: 23/50

This is our highest Plusometer score of the weekend and in a normal week it would be easily Tier Three. It’s not a normal week though. And the Red Bulls and NYCFC both seem to have home playoff spots mostly on lock. Mostly. NYCFC have made things very, very interesting for themselves over the last couple of months, and there’s absolutely a world where they lose out and miss the playoffs entirely. We’ll see how much boost that post-Campeones Cup trophy bounce has in this one.

New England Revolution vs. CF Montréal

  • WHEN: Sat., 7:30 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 39/50
  • Playoffocity: 30/50

This is another one just on the brink of Tier Three, but Montréal aren’t going anywhere from that second place spot and New England almost seem to have packed up shop already after their loss to Houston. They’ll need a bit of a miracle the rest of the way, but they’re still in the race for now. Montréal could help them close down the shop entirely this weekend though.

Orlando City SC vs. Toronto FC

  • WHEN: Sat., 7:30 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 36/50
  • Playoffocity: 37/50

Oh man, Orlando fans have to be feeling a bit twitchy after a midweek loss to Atlanta. They’re still in fifth place but their two biggest rivals are just three and four points behind them. Now Federico Bernardeschi and company are heading to Orlando and there’s more pressure on the Lions than I think anyone expected there to be this weekend.

That being said, a home playoff spot is still definitely in play as well. They’re just four points behind a struggling NYCFC team and they have a game in hand. There’s a lot riding on this one.

Sporting Kansas City vs. Minnesota United FC

  • WHEN: Sat., 8:30 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 28/50
  • Playoffocity: 30/50

SKC have turned into a genuine test for teams down the stretch. This isn’t a gimme for the Loons. And it feels like they could use a gimme. Fortunately for them, the Galaxy don’t seem to be up to doing their part in making the West as chaotic as possible. Minnesota are five points clear for now. But a loss to SKC could make things a little too interesting.

Austin FC vs. Nashville SC

  • WHEN: Sat., 9:00 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 47/50
  • Playoffocity: 26/50
  • Most-valuableness: 100/50
  • The Daily Kickoff "I don't know what's gonna happen but something's gonna happen" Game of the Week

This is another one that would be Tier Three most weekends. Not only do we get a probable playoff preview, but we also get the league’s two foremost MVP candidates going head to head in a game that might just decide who wins the trophy.

Plus Nashville aren’t entirely in the clear yet. And a home spot definitely isn’t locked up yet. They could use a win in a way that Austin couldn’t care less about.

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Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Seattle Sounders FC

  • WHEN: Sat., 10:00 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 29/50
  • Playoffocity: 45/50
  • The Daily Kickoff "That Train Scene In 'The Fugitive’" Game of the Week

A Seattle loss probably wraps it up for their 13-year playoff streak. A Vancouver win and an RSL loss puts the Caps within three points of RSL with two games to go. Essentially, this is our first Thunderdome game of the season. Two teams enter, only one team leaves (with possible playoff hopes).

LA Galaxy vs. Colorado Rapids

  • WHEN: Sat., 10:30 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 29/50
  • Playoffocity: 39/50

The Galaxy are spiraling a bit at the end here. Just three points separate them and seventh-place RSL, but they’ve all but wasted a two-games-in-hand advantage and could end the weekend as much as six points below the line. With a massive game against RSL up next, they could really, really use a win here.

D.C. United vs. Inter Miami CF

  • WHEN: Sun., 5:00 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 24/50
  • Playoffocity: 38/50

The Herons have to take care of business against the probable Wooden Spoon winners here. If they do, there’s a decent chance they end up above the line at the end of the weekend.

TIER THREE: THE SATISFACTION OF EXPECTATIONS BEING MET
Sometimes you want the best and you get it.

Atlanta United vs. Philadelphia Union

  • WHEN: Sat., 3:30 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: UniMás, TUDN, Twitter
  • Plusometer Score: 40/50
  • Playoffocity: 39/50
  • The Daily Kickoff National Game of the Week

Zombie Atlanta is still alive somehow and could potentially end up above the line by the end of the weekend (even if they have played one more game than the teams they’re chasing). All they have to do is beat a team that’s dominated them for about three years now and just so happens to be on warpath toward the Supporters’ Shield during one of the single most impressive second halves in MLS history. Good luck, y’all. There’s still enough hope here to make it interesting though.

Real Salt Lake vs. FC Cincinnati

  • WHEN: Sat., 9:30 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 40/50
  • Playoffocity: 48/50
  • The Daily Kickoff MLS LIVE on ESPN+ Game Of The Week

It would already be an excellent game where both teams are going full throttle into every 50/50 ball, but it also just so happens to be between the sixth-place team in the East and the seventh-place team in the West. Every single team chasing the playoffs will be keeping an eye on this one.

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Columbus Crew vs. Portland Timbers

  • WHEN: Sun., 1:00 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: ESPN, ESPN Deportes
  • Plusometer Score: 35/50
  • Playoffocity: 48/50

This won’t exactly be a back-and-forth game where each team is going full throttle at every moment, but it also just so happens to be between the sixth-place team in the West and the seventh-place team in the East. Every single team chasing the playoffs will be keeping an eye on this one.

AND OTHER THINGS

Austin FC's Djitté named Week 31 Continental Tire Player of the Week: Following a breakout performance that saw him score the first-ever hat trick in Austin FC history, Moussa Djitté has taken home Player of the Week presented by Continental Tire honors for Week 31 of the 2022 season. The 22-year-old took over the match after entering as a 58th-minute substitute in Austin's Western Conference fixture at Q2 Stadium against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday evening, striking for all his team's goals in the eventual 3-0 victory and officially clinching his club a spot in the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs.

Charlotte FC defender Fuchs suspended one additional match: Charlotte FC defender Christian Fuchs has been issued an additional one-match suspension and an undisclosed fine for violent conduct in the 55th minute of Charlotte's match against New York City FC on September 10.

MLS fan wins $50,000 playing MLS Predict 6 presented by BetMGM: A Philadelphia Union fan has hit the jackpot playing MLS Predict 6 presented by BetMGM. Congratulations to Ivan from Philadelphia, who managed to pick every match outcome correctly in Round 26 to win a cool $50,000.

Argentina calls up Atlanta United's Almada for September friendlies: Thiago Almada is officially in the mix for the 2022 FIFA World Cup with Argentina after getting called up for the Albiceleste's September friendlies. Head coach Lionel Scaloni included the Atlanta United playmaker in his 28-man roster – alongside heavyweights Lionel Messi (PSG), Angel Di Maria (Juventus) and Julian Alvarez (Manchester City), among others – ahead of this month's preparation matches against Honduras (Sept. 23) and Jamaica (Sept. 27).

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Good luck out there. Keep lifting trophies.