Daily KO - Cucho
What you need to know

MLS is Back

A full slate of games this weekend. Thank goodness. Here’s how to watch them all.

MLS Pick’em! New game launches for 2024 season

MLS Pick’em is here. Pick the correct answer to all the questions in a round for your chance to win prizes. Each MLS regular-season Saturday matchday, approximately three to eight questions, each about the MLS matches taking place during the current round, will be featured in the MLS Pick’em game. Each round will open on the Wednesday before the Saturday matchday, so you can jump in throughout the week. You can play here.

Cincinnati dispatch Cavalier in Concacaf Champions Cup debut

FC Cincinnati got a valuable road win in their Concacaf Champions Cup debut, defeating Jamaican side Cavalier FC, 2-0, Thursday night behind goals from Sergio Santos and Malik Pinto.

Nashville defeat Moca FC in Concacaf Champions Cup debut

The Hany Mukhtar-Sam Surridge duo shined briefly but brightly for Nashville SC in Thursday night's 3-0 Concacaf Champions Cup debut win at Moca FC. Both Designated Players had a goal and an assist by the time Mukhtar left the game (without medical assistance) in the 35th minute for Jacob Shaffelburg. Surridge also exited the match early, although his making way for Teal Bunbury in the 53rd minute raised more concerns, since the English striker appeared to be in physical pain.

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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.

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

Columbus Crew vs. Atlanta United
WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 2 pm ET
Watchability Score: 48/50

Last year’s Round One playoff matchup between these two clubs gave us scores of 2-0, 4-2 and 4-2. The 2-0 felt like a fluke by the end of the series. I think we can go ahead and assume there will be some goals in this one.

This is a different Atlanta United side, though. They’ve fixed their spine this offseason by adding TAM No. 6 Bartosz Slisz and TAM center back Stian Gregersen. Gregersen, in particular, has impressed this preseason. Atlanta already had one of the sharpest attacks in the East by the end of the season. If they’ve truly found some balance, they’ll be incredibly dangerous.

But until we know for sure, it’s advantage Columbus. They’ve kept a title-winning group together and seem set to keep piling up points this season. It’s likely we’re seeing two of the league’s very best in this one.

LAFC vs. Seattle Sounders FC
WATCH: Apple TV - Free, FOX | Saturday, 4:45 pm ET
Watchabiltiy Score: 47/50

In the West, it’s these two at the top of the hierarchy and then everyone else. They’re the only two Western Conference teams to win MLS Cup since 2014. These two and Portland are the only teams to win the conference since LAFC entered the league in 2018. Other than 2016 FC Dallas, these two are the only Western Conference teams to win the Supporters’ Shield since 2014.

I don’t expect that to change this year. Seattle are the heavy favorites to finish atop the West this season and are expected to challenge for the Shield. LAFC always seem a couple of big moves away from turning into a juggernaut. Even without those moves, they’re still terrifying on paper. They’ve kept Dénis Bouanga. Eduard Atuesta is back. And their young attacking core is brimming with talent.

There’s a good chance this is the first and last game in the Western Conference this season.

LA Galaxy vs. Inter Miami CF
WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Sunday, 9 pm ET
Watchabiltiy Score: 43/50

You aren’t going to get an MLS matchup with more brand recognition than this one. It should also be a pretty decent soccer game, too. We all know about Inter Miami at this point, but the Galaxy are fascinating.

They were atrocious defensively in 2023. The Galaxy allowed a league-high 67 goals on their way to missing the playoffs entirely. They did score 51 times though, largely thanks to the outstanding play of DP midfielder Riqui Puig. Naturally, this offseason has been focused on sorting things out defensively…….[checking].....ok, wait, actually, they signed a new fullback and two new DP wingers. So…uh…

Hey, look, there should be a lot of goals in this game. And it should be a genuine test for Inter Miami’s defense in a way Real Salt Lake wasn’t. It will also be yet another high-mileage trip for a team that’s already traveled the world in preseason. They’ll have to get up for a tough task here. At least defensively.

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.

Orlando City SC vs. CF Montréal
WATCH: Apple TV - Free, TSN & RDS | Saturday, 7:30 pm ET
Watchability Score: 35/50

The Lions looked relatively sharp in their CCC matchup on Wednesday. DP Martín Ojeda took over the No. 10 role in that one. We’ll see if he does the same this weekend. If so, he’ll be tasked with unlocking a CF Montréal team that seems solid across the board.

They also seem to be taking an entirely new tactical direction under new manager Laurent Courtois. Word is they’re prepared to be even more possession-based than Columbus. But it might take a moment to get up to speed there after a year under the more pressing-focused Hernán Losada.

Philadelphia Union vs. Chicago Fire FC
WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 7:30 pm ET
Watchability Score: 38/50

The Union are the Union. But the Fire are one of the league’s most intriguing teams. New signings like DP striker Hugo Cuypers, midfielder Kellyn Acosta and fullback Andrew Gutman might be set to make their Chicago debuts. Hopes haven’t been this high in Chicago in a long time. That’s relative, but still, a playoff appearance is possible here.

Houston Dynamo FC vs. Sporting Kansas City
WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 8:30 pm ET
Watchabiltiy Score: 32/50

SKC will be looking for some revenge after Houston booted them from the playoffs last year. They should get it if they can capitalize on a Houston team that’s already started to trend in a negative direction. DP forward Sebastián Ferreira left their CCC matchup with St. Louis after sustaining a hamstring injury. Héctor Herrera is already out. They haven’t made big moves this offseason. There’s reason to worry.

Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids
WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 10:30 pm ET
Watchabiltiy Score: 30/50

It’s our first peek at a new-look Colorado and a mid-makeover Portland side that still needs to add two DPs. We can’t learn much about Portland here, but we have a lot to learn about Colorado. We’ll get to see DP Djordje Mihailovic and a collection of intriguing signings for the Rapids – not to mention how new Portland manager Phil Neville and new Rapids manager Chris Armas will approach things.

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 City FC
WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 7:30 pm ET
Watchabiltiy Score: 28/50

Charlotte… are a work in progress, but we’ll be able to get a sense of what NYCFC’s attack looks like in this one. Their ability to gel quickly going forward will be critical this season.

D.C. United vs. New England Revolution
WATCH: Apple TV - Free | Saturday, 7:30 pm ET
Watchability Score: 24/50

Tomás Chancalay! Carles Gil! Christian Benteke! Ted Ku-DiPietro! They’ll all be here.

Austin FC vs. Minnesota United FC
WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 8:30 pm ET
Watchabiltiy Score: 22/50

Well, Minnesota’s new manager reportedly won’t arrive until March. And Emanuel Reynoso is likely missing this one with a knee injury. They’ve got a lot to figure out.

Speaking of, Austin seem to have a lot to figure out as well. But they tend to be at their best when no one believes in them.

FC Dallas vs. San Jose Earthquakes
WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 8:30 pm ET
Watchabiltiy Score: 25/50

San Jose manager Luchi Gonzalez will be up against his old team. And his old team, FC Dallas, aren’t likely to debut forward Petar Musa. Jesús Ferreira is dealing with an injury, too. These clubs both have potential, we just might not see it this weekend.

St. Louis CITY SC vs. Real Salt Lake
WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Saturday, 8:30 pm ET
Watchabiltiy Score: 26/50

RSL took a long time to grow into their matchup with Miami on Wednesday. St. Louis look like they still have some magic in them after their late CCC win over Houston. RSL will have to be careful against St. Louis’ press, or they’ll be down early again.

FC Cincinnati vs. Toronto FC
WATCH: Apple TV - Free, TSN & RDS | Sunday, 2:30 pm ET
Watchability Score: 20/50

Phew, Toronto will likely be in Tier One a lot this year. But seeing some new faces for Cincy could be fun.

Nashville SC vs. New York Red Bulls
WATCH: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass | Sunday, 5 pm ET
Watchabiltiy Score: 29/50

This might be a matchup between two playoff-caliber teams when all is said and done. That won’t make it an aesthetically pleasing soccer game.

Other Things

LA mutually part ways with Bond: The LA Galaxy have mutually parted ways with goalkeeper Jonathan Bond. Bond, 30, had 15 clean sheets over 89 regular-season matches for the Galaxy since his 2021 arrival from his native England, where he appeared for the likes of West Brom, Watford and Reading in the English Championship.

Philadelphia loan Torres to Chilean club: The Philadelphia Union have loaned attacker Joaquín Torres to Club Deportivo Universidad Católica. The move to the Chilean top-flight side lasts through the 2024 season and has a purchase option. Torres, 27, joined Philadelphia last year from CF Montréal and played fewer than 350 minutes in league action. For his MLS career, the Argentina native has 8g/13a in 68 matches.

Colorado loan Keita to Irish team: The Colorado Rapids have loaned defender Aboubacar Keita to Irish top-flight side Bohemian FC for the 2024 season. Colorado acquired the former US youth international center back in a pre-2022 season trade from the Columbus Crew. However, Keita has yet to play for the club and suffered an ACL tear after switching clubs.

Toronto re-sign goalkeeper Ranjitsingh: Toronto FC have re-signed goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh through the 2024 MLS season with an option for 2025. The 30-year-old made four league starts for the Reds last season as Sean Johnson's backup, while also featuring for MLS NEXT Pro affiliate side Toronto FC II.

Dallas loan goalkeeper Carrera to North Carolina FC: FC Dallas have loaned homegrown goalkeeper Antonio Carrera to USL Championship side North Carolina FC. The deal for the 19-year-old US youth international lasts for the 2024 season. He can be recalled at any time.

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Good luck out there. Find some time to meet up with friends.