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What you need to know

USMNT draws with Saudi Arabia in final World Cup tuneup

The US men's national team played Saudi Arabia to a 0-0 draw in their final tune-up before the 2022 World Cup, a friendly held Tuesday at Estadio Nueva Condomina in Murcia, Spain. It was the USMNT's second of two pre-World Cup matches during the September window, the first of which ended in a 2-0 defeat against Japan in Düsseldorf, Germany last Friday.

Canada falls to Uruguay

Uruguay raced out and scored twice inside the opening 33 minutes to defeat Canada in a World Cup preparation friendly Tuesday at Národny Futbalovy Stadión in Bratislava, Slovakia. The loss comes on the heels of Canada's 2-0 win over Qatar in their first friendly of the September window last Friday in Vienna, Austria.

LA vs LAFC will kickoff their 2023 seasons in a match at the Rose Bowl

The LA Galaxy and LAFC announced they will open their 2023 MLS regular season campaigns by playing an intercity rivalry match in a historic clash at Rose Bowl Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 25. Fans around the world can watch this match on Apple TV. In a historic first for sports, fans can stream every single 2023 MLS match through the Apple TV app, without any local blackouts or restrictions.

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The Recap

SEATTLE SOUNDERS (1) VS. FC CINCINNATI (1)

What happened: Brenner scored in the 24th minute and Seattle’s Fredy Montero responded with a goal of his own in the 58th. But Kelyn Rowe’s 69th-minute DOGSO red card didn’t exactly help Seattle’s comeback attempt and each team left with a point.

What it means: Seattle really aren’t going to do this, huh? They need to win their final two games, have RSL take just three points from their final two games and have Minnesota United take just one point or Portland take no points or have the Galaxy take no points and wait honestly it doesn’t seem all that far-fetched still, does it? Ok, yep, go back to your regularly scheduled not counting out of the Sounders. A win would have been nice though.

Meanwhile, Cincy will take the draw on the road. There’s four points and a game in hand between them and the playoff line. Now all they have to do is take care of business against Chicago and D.C. United, and they may not even technically have to do that if results go their way. Playoff Cincy!

Stay focused. Follow through. Finish the drill.

We’re almost there. Our long (inter)national nightmare is over. We don’t have to worry about another break. We can just go full throttle MLS from here out.

There are just two more game weeks remaining (plus an extremely important Wednesday night of make up games thrown in the middle) and I need you to stay focused. Remember to follow through. We’ve got to finish the drill here. Read The Daily Kickoff daily. Listen to Extratime. Listen to it twice at double speed if you have to. Ask Matt Doyle questions on Twitter he won’t answer. Get into an argument online with an Orlando fan. We need you in top fan-shape to close this out.

But first, we’ve got to get you back up to speed. Here’s a brief look at what to keep an eye on as we push toward the finish.

The Supporters’ Shield needs a new home

The Union are on 64 points. LAFC are on 64 points. And with two games remaining, it’s not clear who has the upper hand. 

LAFC have the tiebreaker right now thanks to having 20 wins to Philly’s 18. Each team has to walk very different paths to get to the finish line. The Union face all-but-eliminated Charlotte and definitely-eliminated Toronto. LAFC face a Portland team scratching and clawing their way to a playoff spot and then a very good Nashville team that’s going to want to at least make sure they’re in a home playoff spot, and at most will want to make sure they’re actually in the playoffs at all. 

We’re on opposite ends of the spectrum here when it comes to difficulty level. Both teams, of course, will feel like there’s still a bigger prize to win, but let’s not pretend like they’d be upset about another trophy.

Who’s hosting?

In the East, it’s starting to feel like we have a clear idea of who will be in the home playoff spots. If NYCFC really did figure things out in the week before the international break, they should be fine in fourth place or even third. However, a really intriguing running subplot here is whether or not they actually figured things out. Keep an eye on it.

Out west, there are five teams still conceivably fighting for a home playoff spot. It’s not totally unreasonable to imagine a scenario where seventh-place Minnesota finish as high as third.

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Roughly 210954x3.14 playoff scenarios still in play

Did I mention this is all a mess? We haven’t even gotten rid of an Atlanta United team that felt dead weeks ago. It’s an entire league of roommates leaving dishes out and expecting someone else to clean them up later. No one wants to finish the job. And so we’ve got 10th-place Charlotte still somewhat reasonably alive in the East and 10th-place Vancouver with somewhat of a fighting chance.

A Wednesday that will decide the East

You might have noticed there are just four teams left with three games to play and they’re all in the East. You also might have noticed they’re all fighting for the final three playoff spots. On Wednesday, Oct. 5, we’ll have a much clearer idea of who’ll be taking those spots when Charlotte take on Columbus and Inter Miami face Orlando in a massive six-pointer. Who could have guessed a couple of makeup games after some inclement weather would be so critical but, honestly, it’s great writing.

RSL controls the West

Speaking of great writing, whoever gave RSL games against LA and Portland to close the year is a genius. RSL enter the last two games in eighth place, two points behind Minnesota United and, most importantly, three points behind fifth-place LA and sixth-place Portland. For the next couple of weeks, RSL are the league’s most important team.

Other Things

Chicago Fire sign Navarro to long-term contract extension: Chicago Fire FC have signed midfielder Federico Navarro to a new contract through the 2027 season with an option for 2028. The 22-year-old Argentine will continue to occupy U22 Initiative and international roster slots. Navarro originally joined the club in August 2021 from CA Talleres in his home country.

The Reading Rainbow
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Full Time

Good luck out there. Take a trip with someone important.