22MLS_TheDailyKickoff-Insigne
What you need to know

Eight games today:

Highlights include Portland hosting Atlanta United at 5:30 p.m. ET on FOX and FOX Deportes, Toronto welcoming CF Montréal at 7:30 p.m. ET on MLS Live on ESPN+, the Galaxy and SKC at 8 p.m. ET on UniMas, TUDN and Twitter, and LAFC versus Real Salt Lake at 10:30 p.m. ET on MLS LIVE on ESPN+. Check out today’s full schedule here.

Sign up for The Daily Kickoff in your inbox! The Daily Kickoff is more than an article – it can be delivered to your email account as well.

;
The Recap

MINNESOTA UNITED VS. FC DALLAS

  • What happened: FC Dallas found the net three times in about three minutes as they cruised to a 3-0 win. A Michael Boxall own goal in the 55th minute gave Dallas a 1-0 lead, Alan Velasco made it 2-0 a minute later and Jesus Ferreira added a third in the 58th minute. Adding to a bad day for Minnesota United, star midfielder Bebelo Reynoso left in the second half with an ankle injury.
  • What it means: FC Dallas jumped to third in the West with the win, while Minnesota United fell to fifth. But the gap is just two points and the Loons still have a game in hand. Unfortunately for Minnesota, Reynoso’s injury comes just a few days after losing starting center back Bakaye Dibassy for the rest of the season. If Reynoso is out for an extended period, finding their way into a home playoff spot is going to prove very difficult.

COLUMBUS CREW VS. CHICAGO FIRE

  • What happened: Not much! The game ended 0-0. That’s thanks in large part to Chicago goalkeeper Gaga Slonina’s nine saves. The Chelsea loanee helped Chicago survive a 25-6 disadvantage in shots.
  • What it means: For Chicago, it means they’re a little further out of the playoff race than they already were. They needed a win to keep their slim odds from becoming microscopic. The Crew meanwhile are undefeated over their last six, but they’ve only picked up two wins in that span. They’re still four points above the line though, even if they aren’t running over teams.

NEW YORK RED BULLS VS. PHILADELPHIA UNION

  • What happened: The Union and Red Bulls played pretty much exactly the kind of game you’d expect and Philly’s front three made the difference. The Union’s Mikael Uhre and Daniel Gazdag each found the net and Philadelphia took a 2-0 win.
  • What it means: It means the Union are on top of the league. For now anyway. Their fifth win in their last six games put them three points ahead of LAFC in the Supporters’ Shield race with two more games played. Still, it puts a little more pressure on LAFC. For New York, it makes them a little more vulnerable to losing out on a home playoff spot. Honestly, considering their road and home form, that might not be a bad thing.

FC CINCINNATI VS. CHARLOTTE FC

  • What happened: Cincy got a massive win. Nick Hagglund and Lucho Acosta scored as the Knifey Lions took care of business in a 2-0 win.
  • What it means: FC Cincinnati (!) are in a playoff spot. They’re two points ahead of eighth-place Inter Miami and three ahead of New England, with all three having played 28 games. Charlotte’s playoff hopes are all but over.

NASHVILLE SC VS. AUSTIN FC

  • What happened: Nashville’s stars showed up. Walker Zimmerman opened the scoring with a set piece goal and Hany Mukhtar’s second-half brace powered Nashville to a 3-0 win.
  • What it means: On a team level, it means Nashville are the hottest team in the West and have launched themselves from fringe playoff team to the fourth spot in the conference. On an individual level, Mukhtar made a heckuva case for MVP. Head-to-head results don’t truly mean much when it comes to awards, but Mukhtar’s brace did give him 21 goals and 11 assists on the season. He’s the fifth player to ever reach the 20/10 mark in MLS and it’s hard to argue any player has been more directly responsible for his team’s success. Austin could have clinched a playoff spot with a win. They still can this weekend, they just need a lot of help now. They’ll likely be waiting another week.
;
What to watch for on a loaded Sunday

Eight games today. And still a ton to decide in the playoff race. Here’s a few things to keep an eye on.

Atlanta’s last stand and a must-win for Portland | 5:30 p.m. ET - FOX, FOX Deportes

This is it for the 2022 edition of Atlanta United. If we’re being honest, it’s probably over anyway, but a loss today is the final nail in the coffin. The Five Stripes would be five points behind seventh-place FC Cincinnati and Cincy will have a game in hand.

Atlanta’s back will be entirely up against the wall in this one, but Portland will be facing genuine pressure. The Timbers are seventh in the West, but have played two more games than the eighth-place LA Galaxy. Their one-point lead is barely a lead at all. Especially with just five more games for Portland to add points to their total.

The good news for the Timbers is that this match should play to their strengths. Expect Portland to look very comfortable sitting deep and picking their moments to try and capitalize on Atlanta’s weak transition defense.

CF Montréal can slam the door on Toronto | 7:30 p.m. ET - MLS LIVE on ESPN+; TSN4, TVA Sports in Canada

First and foremost, this may end up being the best game of the day. CF Montréal manager Wilfried Nancy will be working to find a way to slow down Toronto’s megastars Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi, while Toronto and Bob Bradley will have their hands full with one of the league’s most consistently impressive teams. In a rivalry game with stakes and quality players all over the field, things could get weird.

The stakes are relatively low for CF Montréal when it comes to their spot in the standings. They’re practically a lock for a home playoff spot and seem to be cruising to a second-place finish, especially after the Red Bulls’ loss to Philadelphia last night. However, a win over Toronto FC would potentially be a fatal blow to the Reds’ season. And you know Montréal would be ecstatic to deliver it. Toronto would have just four games remaining to make up a four-point gap with two games out of hand. They would need to win out and get a little lucky.

It feels like CF Montréal might be able to control this one in midfield. Toronto’s Mark-Anthony Kaye isn’t likely to appear and Montréal have found ways to exploit their opponent’s weak points all season. The question is whether any of that will matter if Insigne and Bernardeschi simply ignore all of that and score Goal of the Year contenders.

Oh, yeah, Seattle may be out too | 9 p.m. ET - MLS LIVE on ESPN+

Like Atlanta and Toronto, it might be over for the Sounders too. But it will really be over if they don’t pick up three points today against one of the league’s worst teams in Houston Dynamo FC. What a day in MLS when we might see Mortal Kombat-style fatalities for the seasons of three of the biggest teams in the league.

The Revs try to keep pace while NYCFC try to recover | 8 p.m. ET - MLS LIVE on ESPN+

New England can equal seventh-place Cincy on points with a win today. They will have played one game more, but any points dropped now could be disastrous. There’s a lot of good news for the Revs today though. Mainly that NYCFC have been one of the single worst teams in the league over the last month.

The Pigeons have lost five of their last six games and look a lot like the worst versions of other big teams that have struggled in recent MLS seasons. They’re allowing soft goals, they’re playing from behind and they aren’t creating clear-cut chances in the way they used to. They’re not so much stumbling over the finish line as they are skidding face first across it.

The other good news is that DP forward Giacomo Vrioni and dynamic midfielder Dylan Borrero are at least listed as questionable after missing time due to injury. Their return could provide a major boost.

The Revs certainly need it. They’ve failed to take three points in any of their last four games, three of which have been at home. Anything short of a win today would make a critical homestand a failure. And it may just cost them a playoff spot.

LAFC takes on RSL | 10:30 p.m. ET - MLS LIVE on ESPN+

In a game that might be decided on who can win the most 50/50 balls, we may just find out a lot about LAFC’s mindset heading into their final few games of the regular season and a lot about how the Supporters’ Shield race might shake out. LAFC have lost three in a row.

Plus, ya know, gotta get your wins against RSL while you can. Not gonna happen in the playoffs. The internet has already decided. Never doubt the internet.

Other Things

New York Red Bulls sign defender Ndam: The New York Red Bulls have signed center back Hassan Ndam to an MLS contract. Ndam joins from New York Red Bulls II, their second squad that competes in the USL Championship. The 23-year-old previously spent 2017-18 with the Red Bulls’ first team, featuring in two league matches (91 minutes played).

The Reading Rainbow
;
Full Time

Good luck out there. Listen to prophets.