What to watch for - September 23 2020

What to watch for Wednesday: All 26 teams feature during packed MLS evening

Fair warning: You’re going to need multiple screens to stay abreast of Wednesday night’s jam-packed MLS slate. There are 13 matches, so we’ll soon have another discussion point on all 26 teams.

Here are the finals so far:

And your quick rundown on the rest of the matchups:

Atlanta United vs. FC Dallas

7:00 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US (local TV)

The Five Stripes keep on sliding, as they’re now 0-4-3 in their last seven matches. Before then came a three-and-out showing at the MLS is Back Tournament that caused head coach Frank de Boer and the club to mutually agree to part ways, one of several bullet points in a sullen Atlanta summer. It won’t get any easier, since FC Dallas seem to be finding their way and have three straight wins. What’s encouraging, too, is that Franco Jara is rounding into form with five goals scored across their last five matches.

New York City FC vs. Toronto FC

7:00 pm ET | TSN 1/4, MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US (local TV)

The last time these Eastern Conference sides squared off, NYCFC bounced Toronto 3-1 from the MLS is Back Tournament Round of 16. But that was nearly two months ago and both teams feel like they have another level to reach. That comes despite NYCFC being on a six-game unbeaten run and Toronto advancing (by the skin of their teeth) to the Canadian Championship final. They’re both coming off weekend draws, too, and could use a massive three points midweek.

Chicago Fire FC vs. Houston Dynamo

7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US (local TV)

Chicago need to start turning positive performances into consistency over 90 minutes and points on the board. They’ve enjoyed bright moments during this five-game winless streak, but breakdowns and slip-ups have created disappointment. Meanwhile, Houston have officially transferred Alberth Elis to Boavista FC, ending a three-plus year stay where the Designated Player had 34 goals and 27 assists over 88 appearances. As they look to end a three-game winless streak, Dynamo GM Matt Jordan told MLSsoccer.com’s Tom Bogert he’s intent on bringing in another attacker before the Secondary Transfer Window closes on October 29.

FC Cincinnati vs. Philadelphia Union

7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US (local TV)

It took an Olimpico from Haris Medunjanin, but Cincinnati are back in the win column for the first time in 10 months. The Bosnian midfielder’s incredible goal ended a six-game winless stretch for Jaap Stam’s group, who also need DPs like Jurgen Locadia and Yuya Kubo to start producing. They encounter a rampant Philadelphia side, though, one that has five wins in their last six games. Kacper Przybylko is coming off his second brace of the season, and Homegrown midfielder Anthony Fontana has three goals in their last two games.

Columbus Crew SC vs. Minnesota United FC

7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US (local TV)

The Crew sit atop the Supporters’ Shield for a reason: They’ve allowed a league-low four goals through 12 matches and continue to get results even if Darlington Nagbe and Lucas Zelarayan aren’t back in the starting XI. Caleb Porter’s group runs into a tough task at MAPFRE Stadium, though, even if Minnesota are 2-4-1 since returning from Orlando. They just traded for striker Kei Kamara, and one has to think he’ll benefit from the chances Kevin Molino, Emanuel “Bebelo” Reynoso et al create.

Sporting Kansas City vs. Orlando City SC

7:30 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes

Even though they’re on the road, Orlando likely enter as favorites while reveling in a six-game unbeaten run (4-0-2). The Oscar Pareja revolution continues, and the Lions hardly look the part of a club that missed the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs during each of their first five MLS seasons. And while Sporting are second in the Western Conference standings, they’re 1-3-2 in their last six matches. That overall stature can be attributed to their ruthless start to 2020, when they won five of their first six matches.

Inter Miami CF vs. New York Red Bulls

8:00 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, on DAZN in Canada (local TV)

With a win and some other results, Miami could soon occupy a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They’re 3-2-2 in their last seven matches and will only benefit from star striker Gonzalo Higuain entering the lineup. Meanwhile, the Red Bulls are 1-2 since parting ways with head coach Chris Armas, suggesting issues extend deeper a leadership change. At the same time, they still occupy a playoff spot (8th in the East) given the expanded postseason field across both conferences.

Nashville SC vs. D.C. United

8:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US (local TV)

Nashville came crashing back down to Earth with a 2-0 defeat at Columbus last weekend, ending a four-game unbeaten streak for the expansion club. With a two-game homestretch at Nissan Stadium, it’s an opportune time for Gary Smith’s side to amass points. D.C. are quietly a respectable 1-1-2 in their last four matches, even if they got just two of nine points from a recent three-game swing at Audi Field. Maybe we’ll see more of Griffin Yow after the Homegrown forward scored a late equalizer last weekend.

Colorado Rapids vs. San Jose Earthquakes

9:00 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US (local TV)

The Rapids are booming with confidence after a 2-0 win at the LA Galaxy last weekend, one where youth stole the show for head coach Robin Fraser’s side. Get another 'W' and it’s safe to say Colorado will have put their midseason slump behind them. But perhaps it’s a trap game with San Jose coming off their third lopsided defeat in as many weeks, this time a 6-1 home setback against Portland. There are definitely flaws in the Earthquakes’ approach, as shown by a 0-4-3 stretch and sitting bottom of the Western Conference standings.

Real Salt Lake vs. LA Galaxy

9:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US (local TV)

Real Salt Lake have lost two straight games at Rio Tinto Stadium by a combined 7-1 scoreline, and each time Freddy Juarez’s team was shown a red card. They’ll need more discipline, and the tough part is LA have won three of these past four matchups. That includes a late-season 2019 tilt where Cristian Pavon had a goal and an assist. Perhaps the Argentine forward can return to his MVP-caliber form after being held scoreless in back-to-back matches as LA’s six-game unbeaten streak ended Saturday night. 

Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders

10:00 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US (local TV)

This Cascadia rivalry returns for the third time in a month, and they’ve split the 2020 series so far with a win apiece. Their last meeting, a 2-1 victory for Portland at CenturyLink Field, saw Sebastian Blanco go down injured with what proved to be a torn ACL. That’s forced Portland to shift their attacking calculus, while Seattle have responded with two straight wins. Brian Schmetzer’s group is flying right now.

LAFC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC

10:30 pm ET | TSN 1/4, MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US (local TV)

LAFC continue to slide, going 2-5 across their last seven matches. The defending Supporters’ Shield champions have enough talent to spark to life, even without Carlos Vela (MCL sprain), but their defense continues to be a sieve with 2.25 goals against per game. That leaves Vancouver as the in-form team, with the Whitecaps winning three of their past four games. Fredy Montero’s playing like a striker reborn, as the Colombian forward has two goals and three assists in back-to-back victories, forming an impressive partnership with Canadian international Lucas Cavallini against RSL.


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