Busy week for teams ahead of further World Cup qualifiers

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Major League Soccer teams have a busy week before most teams take a short break during Concacaf World Cup qualifying.

After a full lineup of games on Wednesday night, 26 teams will be in action over the weekend.

The biggest clash will be in Seattle on Sunday, when the Sounders host the Colorado Rapids. Only three points separate the leaders of the Western Conference and the Rapids, who have been the biggest surprise team in the league this season.

Montreal hosts Atlanta United on Saturday in a clash between the sixth and eighth-seeded teams in the Eastern Conference (the top seven teams advance to the playoffs). On Sunday, New York City FC host Nashville SC in a showdown between the second and fourth place teams in the East. Later, the Philadelphia Union will host the Columbus Crew, which will likely be galvanized by their Campeones Cup victory.

Here’s what you need to know for the weekend in MLS:

MLS Game of the Week

Seattle Sounders vs. Colorado Rapids (Sunday, 10 p.m. ET on ESPN +): Although Seattle has won 19 of its 27 games with Colorado, the Rapids are undefeated in the last three games of the regular season, dating back to September 2019. The last meeting was on July 4, when the Sounders’ outstanding fullback Alex Roldan scored his first MLS goal, but Rapids winger Michael Barrios equalized in the second half. Seattle has gone 8-5-1 (25 points) since then. Colorado, meanwhile, are undefeated in 12 games and are 8-1-7 (31 points) since playing Seattle.

MLS player to watch

Emanuel Reynoso, Minnesota United: Reynoso, the designated Minnesota midfielder, sets the pace and pulse of the Loons’ offense. Statistically, the 26-year-old Argentine has scored two goals and one assist in his last two games, bringing his season tally to four goals and seven assists. Reynoso’s 68 key passes – the last pass before an unprocessed shot on goal – are second in MLS behind league MVP contender Carles Gil of the New England Revolution. The sight test indicates that Reynoso, along with running mate Robin Lod, is making the difference on the pitch, scoring 17 goals as the two are in the starting lineup. Minnesota travel to Texas on Saturday to face FC Dallas.

By the numbers

16: The New England Revolution does what championship teams often do: win close games. They’ve won 16 games with one goal this year, including two last week against the Chicago Fire and Orlando City. Of the 29 games the Revs played, 24 games were either a draw or decided by a goal. Those 16 wins in one-goal games alone represent more wins than any other team in MLS.

MLS News and Notes

Back a Cero redux in Campeones Cup: Dos a Cero is alive and well in Columbus. In the same city where USMNT claimed four 2-0 victories over their Mexican rivals in the World Cup qualifiers, the Columbus Crew defeated Cruz Azul, 2-0, in the Campeones Cup – the annual match between America’s defending champions and Mexico’s top pro. leagues – Wednesday evenings. This is the second time in three editions of the Campeones Cup – the 2020 game has been called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic – that the MLS team have emerged victorious. After Tigres UANL won the inaugural match against Toronto FC in 2019, Atlanta United won over Club América in 2020.

USMNT List Announcement: United States Men’s National Team coach Gregg Berhalter has called up 27 players for the final round of the Concacaf World Cup qualifiers. Weston McKennie returns after being punished for breaking team COVID-19 protocols, missing the last two World Cup qualifiers. Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna, however, will not be with the squad after injuring themselves in the last qualifying round. The USMNT faces Jamaica on Thursday, October 7 in Austin, against Panama in Panama City on Sunday, October 10, then ends against Costa Rica in Columbus on Wednesday, October 13.

Here is the full list …

Goalkeepers (3): Sean Johnson (New York City FC; United States), Zack Steffen (Manchester City; England), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; United States)

Defenders (10): George Bello (Atlanta United; United States), John Brooks (Wolfsburg; Germany), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona; Spain), Mark McKenzie (Genk; Belgium), Shaq Moore (Tenerife; Spain), Tim Ream (Fulham; England), Chris Richards (Hoffenheim; Germany), Antonee Robinson (Fulham; England), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; United States), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray; Turkey)

Midfielder (8): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; USA), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig; Germany), Gianluca Busio (Venezia; Italy), Luca de la Torre (Heracles; Netherlands), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy ; USA), Weston McKennie (Juventus, Italy), Yunus Musah (Valencia, Spain), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders, United States)

Forwards (6): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg; Austria), Paul Arriola (DC United; USA), Matthew Hoppe (Mallorca; Spain), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas; USA), Tim Weah (Lille; France), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew, United States)

Chicago Fire and FC Cincinnati Fire Coaches: It was a difficult week for the coaches of the struggling teams. FC Cincinnati and Chicago Fire FC both fired their coaches this week. Despite a great 2-0 victory over New York City FC On Wednesday night, Chicago fired Raphael Wicky, who was 12-25-14 in two seasons with the Fire. Monday, FC Cincinnati sacks Jaap Stam, marking the fifth head coach to be sacked in the franchise’s six seasons (three in USL, three in MLS). Stam was 8-28-12 in two seasons at Cincinnati. Tyrone Marshall (FC Cincinnati) and Frank Klopas (Chicago Fire FC) will serve as interim coaches.

FOLLOWING: Chris Albright to be FC Cincinnati’s new general manager

MLS Playoff Photo: If the season ended today … There is still a lot of football to play, but it would be the MLS playoff games according to the ranking following Wednesday night’s games:

Eastern Conference: As the seed, the New England Revolution gets a pass to the conference semifinals. First Round Matches: New York City FC (seeded 4) v Philadelphia Union (5), DC United (3) v Atlanta United (6), Nashville SC (2) v Orlando City SC (7)

Western Conference: As the seed, the Seattle Sounders get a pass to the conference semifinals. First Round Matches: Portland Timbers (seeded 4) vs. Real Salt Lake, Colorado Rapids (3) vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (6), Sporting Kansas City (2) vs. Minnesota United (7).

MLS Ranking: Top 10 Power Polls

1. New England Revolution: The Revolution – a team that have reached five MLS Cups but have yet to win one – are heading to the first Supporters’ Shield in franchise history and are set to break the league points record in one season.

2. The Seattle pollsters: The Sounders have regrouped well after last Wednesday’s loss in the League Cup final to Club León with two road wins in four days.

3. Nashville SC: Nashville must bounce back for its Sunday road game against NYCFC after a disappointing home draw Wednesday night against Orlando City, which scored the equalizer at the end of added time.

4. Kansas City Sports: SKC recovered from Sunday’s loss to the Seattle Sounders against easily send FC Dallas Wednesday night and keep up the pace at the top of the Western Conference.

5. Colorado Rapids: Colorado extended their unbeaten streak to 12 games with a 3-0 clinical victory over Austin FC Wednesday night. Any mistake from Seattle or the SKC could see the Rapids jump into an unexpected high position.

6. Portland wood: With their second win over Los Angeles FC in a week and a half, the Timbers could have permanently damaged the playoff prospects of a conference rival.

7. New York City FC: The NYCFC followed up on not-quite-ideal results in a home and away game against the New York Red Bulls last week (1 draw, 1 loss) with an even less ideal loss to Chicago Fire FC on Wednesday night.

8. Los Angeles Galaxy: Brutal road trip for the Galaxy in front of El Tráfico XIII. The Galaxy lost to Minnesota United, Austin FC and Real Salt Lake by a combined score of 7-1.

9. Philadelphia Union: Last season’s Supporters’ Shield winners got a road result against the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night and remain at the heart of the Eastern Conference playoff race.

10. Orlando City SC: Orlando had a huge midweek result, ending a four-game losing streak by rallying two road goals against Nashville.

To relocate: Philadelphia Union

Stall: Atlanta United (formerly: 10)

Others receiving votes: Minnesota United, Atlanta United, DC United

USA TODAY Sports Network MLS top 10 voters in power polls: Pat Brennan, Cincinnati Enquirer; Drake Hills, Tennessee; Jacob Myers, The Columbus Dispatch; Jim Reineking, USA TODAY.

What are the MLS games this weekend?

(ABC / ESPN games available to stream on Watch ESPN; FOX games on FOX Sports Live. Games also available on fuboTV.)

Saturday

  • Austin FC vs. Real Salt Lake, 3:30 p.m. ET (UniMas / TUDN, Twitter)
  • CF Montreal vs Atlanta United, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN +)
  • FC Cincinnati vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN +)
  • Orlando City SC vs. DC United, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN +)
  • FC Dallas v Minnesota United, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN +)
  • Vancouver Whitecaps vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 10 p.m. ET (ESPN +)

Sunday

  • New York City FC vs. Nashville SC, Noon ET (ESPN +)
  • Sporting Kansas City vs. Houston Dynamo, 4 p.m. ET (UniMas / TUDN, Twitter)
  • Philadelphia Union vs. Columbus Crew, 4 p.m. ET (ESPN +)
  • Toronto FC vs. Chicago Fire FC, 4 p.m. ET (ESPN +)
  • Portland Timbers vs. Inter Miami CF, 5:30 p.m. ET (FS1)
  • Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Los Angeles FC, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • Seattle Sounders vs. Colorado Rapids, 10 p.m. ET (ESPN +)


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