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Your weekend storylines

There’s plenty to keep an eye on this weekend, even if you aren’t getting eyes on every single game. Starting with…

CF Montréal come home

After six (6) road games to begin the season, CF Montréal are back in Quebec. But the folks in the MLS scheduling office have no warmth in their heart and decided to welcome Montréal home with a matchup against FC Cincinnati.

It’s not just that Cincy are the reigning Supporters’ Shield winners, they’ve been something close to Shield-caliber this year too. Despite integrating several new pieces and dealing with Concacaf Champions Cup (for a moment, anyway), the Garys are averaging 1.71 points per game and getting the job done even when they’re not at their best. They started 2023 this way too and, well, we know how that worked out.

Then again, things are a bit different. It’s a little more difficult to say “Oh, they’ll figure it out” when they’re having trouble scoring and former striker Brandon Vazquez isn’t around. On less proven teams, seven goals in seven games would be cause for something close to panic. Cincy get the benefit of the doubt.

However, that does indicate some flaws. CF Montréal aren’t going up against an invincible juggernaut. And being at home should provide a much-needed breath of fresh air. After taking seven points from their first three games, Montréal held a 3-1 lead 80 minutes into their fourth one. They lost that game and lost the next two as well.

So, yeah, the hype has died a little bit. But that’s understandable when you’re dealing with this kind of schedule. Road games are hard. That means this is an opportunity for Montréal to get back on track and then stay on track. For starters, 61% of their remaining games are at home. In MLS, that’s a huge advantage.

It’s also an advantage to have new players like Matías Cóccaro. He’s been one of the best new signings of the season and might be set to ramp up his production in a friendlier environment. If he and Montréal are able to get a win today, it will be a message to the rest of the East. If not… well, there are still 16 home games left to sort things out.

Everything's like a dream in Kansas City

I’m not sure exactly how big a crowd they’re expecting at Arrowhead Stadium today, but I know the get-in price for today’s match against Inter Miami has been hovering around $100 a pop. It’s a big deal when the Herons come to town, but it might feel a little odd for everyone today. At least until both teams get settled back in.

The last time we saw Sporting KC, they were blowing a 3-0 lead on national TV. The last time we saw Inter Miami, they were getting boat raced in Monterrey. Neither team is coming on a high.

But, I don’t know, it seems like being in this kind of atmosphere today will make flipping a switch pretty easy. SKC kind of need it to be.

Nothing could be worse than their start last season, but they’ve merely been pretty good and not the same team that put up conference-best numbers over the second half of last season. That’s not reason to panic, it’s just reason to wonder how high the ceiling is for this team. They have a respectable 10 points in seven games, but blown leads to Portland and LA in two of their last three games have soured things a bit lately.

The good news is even with Johnny Russell and Alan Pulido dealing with injuries, they’ve still been able to find the net. They’ve scored eight goals in their last three games thanks in part to a resurgent moment for Willy Agada.

You might remember Agada as the forward who put up outstanding numbers in his first half-season in the league, seemed primed to take a starring role in 2023, and thheeeennn… barely played. He’s made the most of his time in the starting lineup this year though, scoring three times in the last three games. That includes a first-half brace last week against Portland. Keep an eye on Agada against a Miami team that tends to be defense-avoidant at times.

Which, by the way, how are they going to respond to this week’s events? Recovering from an incredibly disappointing performance by taking a trip to one of the loudest stadiums in the world doesn’t seem like the recommended procedure.

Atlanta vs. All y’all (but mainly Jim Curtin)

Atlanta United versus Philadelphia is one of the weirdest rivalries in the league. See, I bet you recoiled at that and went “RIVALRY???” I know, I know. It’s hard to explain. But if you asked someone in Atlanta which MLS team really got under their skin, a shockingly large amount would say Philadelphia.

I’m gonna guess that even Philadelphians are surprised to hear that. Well, maybe. Most are probably well aware of how good their team is at making life hell for opponents. But, Atlanta and the Union have had a unique relationship ever since Jim Curtin and former Atlanta manager Gabriel Heinze got into a post-game exchange of words that ended with Curtin publicly calling Heinze something that rhymes with “bass bowl.”

“This is the most I’ll brag about my club tonight — we’re authentic. No knock on Atlanta, but if you check the drivers licenses at an Atlanta United game, they’re from all over the place because that’s just the place to party… My dad sat next to a few and they were great people but they were just like ‘we’re SEC football guys and we’re just here because we heard this is a great party.’”

As an SEC football guy myself, I would never suggest calling SEC folks “inauthentic,” even if they’re at a soccer game. You can bark at soccer players too, ya know?

Anyway, the larger point here is there’s beef. And beef between two teams who are genuine contenders in the East. Sunday should be fun.

Vancouver and LA Galaxy good soccer game

The top two teams in the West on points! MLS After Dark! Vancouver’s biggest test of the season! Y’all better watch it.

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Good luck out there. Make sure wherever you are feels like home.