With three MLS games to go alongside the first leg of the Canadian Championship, Wednesday night is a big one in MLS.
Here's a preview for the three MLS matches on tap:
FC Cincinnati vs. Atlanta United (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+, DAZN)
Atlanta got done up in transition against the Crew. It's not the first time teams have threatened to do damage on the break since the reigning champs returned to their aggressive tactics, it's just that Miles Robinson had been a human destroyer in central defense. Leandro Gonzalez Pirez and Franco Escobar have been solid, too, and all three are comfortable defending in (and covering) space. Robinson didn't play up to a Defender of the Year-caliber form and Florentin Pogba, in for LGP, wasn't particularly great.
Cincy have pace to hit on the counter and will likely look to find joy down that avenue as well.
It's also the return of Frank de Boer vs. Ron Jans on the touchline. During their time in the Netherlands, Jans' PEC Zwolle were victorious in two cup finals, though de Boer's Ajax were unbeaten against Zwolle in the six matches when their tenures overlapped.
Portland Timbers vs. New York Red Bulls (10:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+, DAZN)
Both teams are at their best in transition, the Red Bulls while pressing and Timbers on the counter. It could lead to a wide-open, entertaining match. But the Red Bulls' press, as you may have heard, hasn't been quite as suffocating nor aggressive this year.
They still lead the league in possession won in the final third, even more than LAFC, but it hasn't been quite the same in 2019 for the Red Bulls. Bobby Warshaw postulates that being the road underdog suits the Red Bulls and their style better for the playoffs. Wednesday would be a good test for that theory, if not for one pesky thing: Squad rotation!
New York lost to the Seattle Sounders on Sunday with a full-strength starting XI. They stay on the West Coast to face Portland on Wednesday before hosting the Philadelphia Union this weekend. Wednesday night might be a prime candidate for one last rest coming down the stretch run, even as the Red Bulls continue to slide down the standings.
The Timbers, as my dude Matt Doyle has been keen on pointing out, have attempted a ton of crosses. Too many, it can be easily argued, considering they don't have an aerially dominant center forward like Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Still no evidence that Portland have figured out how to play vs. a team that sits in. 39 crosses is... a lot. pic.twitter.com/4DlaZReO2T— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) September 15, 2019
Will it be press vs. transition on Wednesday?
Seattle Sounders vs. FC Dallas (10:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+, DAZN)
With three wins in their last four, the Sounders' summer swoon appears to be behind them. That lone loss came during the international break while missing double-digit first-teamers, too. Focus remains locked on corralling that No. 2 seed out West.
One point ahead of the competition, the seeding truly will come down to Decision Day. Winning at home goes a long way in boosting seeding hopes. Jordan Morris has been very good lately for Seattle, as has the center-back partnership between Xavier Arreaga and Kim Kee-Hee. Nico Lodeiro and Raul Ruidiaz will always be excellent, too. Mix in home-field advantage through at least the first two rounds? That sounds like a recipe to get to the Conference Finals.
Dallas, meanwhile, might also have an eye on their home games. They have two more left, against NYCFC and Sporting KC. They are the first team below the playoff line, level with Portland and one behind San Jose, who end the season on a championship-level American Ninja Warrior course.
Would six home points be enough for Dallas? How badly do they need a result against Seattle?