What you need to know

Bernardeschi out of Toronto FC's Matchday 15 squad

Less than a week after Federico Bernardeschi called for change at Toronto FC following a Matchday 14 loss at Austin FC, Labeled a "coach's decision" on Friday by head coach and sporting director Bob Bradley, the move comes amid Toronto sitting last in the Eastern Conference standings on 13 points and with one win in their last 10 league matches (1W-4L-5D).

Chicago Fire winger Mueller out long-term with hip injury

Chicago Fire FC’s attacking depth will be tested, with the club announcing Friday winger Chris Mueller is expected to miss the remainder of the 2023 MLS season after undergoing a successful arthroscopic surgical procedure on his right hip. Mueller is expected to make a full recovery before the 2024 season begins.

Austin FC center back Väisänen out with knee injury

Head coach Josh Wolff confirmed to local reporters Friday in their midweek US Open Cup defeat to Chicago Fire FC. Väisänen’s injury comes as fellow center back Julio Cascante returns from an adductor strain that kept him sidelined for over two months. The timeline Wolff outlined could keep Väisänen out through the revamped Leagues Cup beginning in late July.

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Your weekend storylines

A busy weekend with a couple of Sunday games thrown in for good measure. Here’s what to keep an eye on.

The East’s two best teams go head to head

Don’t look at this year’s standings. Look at the results from the last five years of MLS. No team in the East has really come close to matching Philadelphia and NYCFC’s point total, consistency and general success. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone we’re talking about a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Final, which of course was a rematch from the previous year’s Eastern Conference Final.

Since the most recent Eastern Conference Final though, both teams have trended different directions. The Union have maintained extreme continuity while NYCFC are still dealing with effects of a whirlwind offseason that saw multiple key figures leave the club. For the Union, that’s meant a CCL semifinal appearance and increasingly solid results in the league. For NYCFC, that’s meant some clunky play, results that aren’t up to standard, and some early season soul searching.

Per FBref, only the New York Red Bulls have trotted out a younger lineup more consistently, and the Pigeons have been searching for an effective false 9 all year. On a very related note, they enter tonight’s game in the midst of a five-game winless streak in all competitions. They’ve taken just one point in their last four league games. They’re struggling.

The Union, however, are finding their footing after dealing with the strain of a CCL run. Since exiting the competition, Philly have taken 10 points from 12 and have already caught back up with the front of the pack in the East.

It’s not an ideal setup for NYCFC to get back on track here. But if they can pull an upset off at Citi Field tonight (7:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass), it might feel like the start of a turning point for a team that feels like they have too much talent to be down for long.

Slowing down to try and look as much as you can at Toronto without giving away the fact you’re slowing down to try and look as much as you can at Toronto

It’s a mess. Maybe the single biggest mess I can remember since I started covering MLS. Yeah, there’s been drama in places like Atlanta and LA, but this is an avalanche of every mess, everywhere all at once. It is deep and it involves likely the league’s highest-compensated player ever, the player who’s not quite as highly paid but is outperforming him, one of the all-time great managers in US soccer history, and so much more that we don’t have time to get into, but you should really go check out the reporting being done on the situation.

We can say for certain the mess will manifest today in Federico Bernardeschi missing Toronto’s matchup with a suddenly hot D.C. United team. That’s a “coach's decision” that does a decent job of summing up the general vibe of things in Toronto right now. Not having your best player for a game that feels like a must-win is… did I mention everything kind of feels like a mess?

It could be a rough one in Toronto tonight (7:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass). The atmosphere will be fascinating, the body language should tell stories and it may just be the most interesting game of the day. Then, just because it’s MLS, Toronto may come out with a win.

Just some really solid games

Orlando City host Atlanta United! San Jose welcome FC Dallas! Seattle take on New York! St. Louis battle Vancouver! Nashville fight Columbus for the color yellow! Everyone single one of these features two teams that are Daily Kickoff certified as probable Audi MLS Cup Playoff teams. The narratives perhaps aren’t quite as strong, but a few are still there if you want them.

You’ve got Luchi González facing his old team, Giorgos Giakoumakis trying to be a stepfather for Orlando City, and Red Bulls trying to prove the underlying numbers right while Seattle look to pull out of a tailspin. It’s an outstanding weekend. Settle in and take in a bunch of well-played games.

And then go take a look at whatever is going on in Toronto.

Other Things

Minnesota United striker Amarilla could return to Ecuador: Minnesota United FC striker Luis Amarilla could soon return to Ecuadorian top-flight side LDU Quito, according to several reports about the Loons’ star No. 9. Andy Greder of the St. Paul Pioneer Press has confirmed a report from Bolavip that the Loons are exploring moving Amarilla, who currently occupies a Designated Player spot during his second tenure with Minnesota. Greder notes other clubs, including those in Mexico, could be in the mix for the 27-year-old Paraguay international.

USA reach U-20 World Cup knockouts: The United States have topped Group B at the FIFA U-20 World Cup after earning a 2-0 victory over Slovakia, a result secured Friday by goals from San Jose Earthquakes homegrowns Cade Cowell and Niko Tsakiris.

Former USMNT coach Berhalter in running for Swansea City job: Gregg Berhalter's next coaching job could be in the English Championship, according to reports out of Wales linking the former US men's national team manager to Swansea City. Berhalter, whose USMNT contract expired after the 2022 FIFA World Cup, is said to be among the candidates the Swans are considering to take over managerial duties ahead of the 2023-24 campaign.

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