Let’s talk about the buffer zone. We all need one. Sometimes that refers to space, sometimes it refers to a little extra cash in your pocket for a trip, and sometimes it refers to MLS standings. Luckily for us, the Verde & Black have created a nice buffer zone for themselves which took some of the sting out of last week’s loss to New York. Austin FC still sits a full 7 points clear of Minnesota for the #2 seed in the playoffs. Remember, finishing 2nd guarantees home field advantage through the first two rounds. It’s a big deal. With that in mind, let’s figure out who to root for this week so that ATXFC can build some of that buffer back.
- All ratings are on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the most impactful towards ATXFC.
Games That Make You Go Meh
Chicago Fire vs Atlanta United – Saturday @ 4:00 p.m. (ESPN+)
FC Charlotte vs Columbus Crew – Saturday @ 6:00 p.m. (ESPN+)
Club de Foot Montreal vs NYCFC – Saturday @ 6:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
Inter Miami CF vs FC Cincinnati – Saturday @ 7:00 p.m. (ESPN+)
New England Revolution vs Toronto FC – Saturday @ 7:00 p.m. (ESPN+)
DC United vs Orlando City – Sunday @ 4:00 p.m. (ESPN+)
Games That Matter
LAFC vs Seattle Sounders – Friday @ 10:00 p.m. (FS1)
MLS Schedule Makers: “Hey, here’s a great idea! Lets take the best game of the weekend with two of the league’s biggest brands and put it on national TV in a time slot that no one will watch!”
On the bright side, with the kickoff time being so late, this could be MLS Double After Dark. LAFC enters the match winners of three straight and with a 3-point cushion in the Shield standings. However, the more interesting storyline here is Seattle. The Sounders found a win last week at home but are still 1-point shy of the playoff line heading into the final 1/3 of the schedule. There’s some real concern for the CCL Champs.
Some might argue that we want LAFC to drop every point possible so that Austin FC can stay in the race for the Supporters’ Shield. I’m not that guy. Seattle is a team that I have no desire to face at Q2 Stadium in October. Ideally both teams drop points here.
The Side: A draw
ATXFC Impact Rating: 4.5
Minnesota United FC vs Portland Timbers – Saturday @ 2:00 p.m. (ABC)
Two of the hottest teams in MLS playing on national TV? Yes please. Portland is unbeaten since the international break and has vaulted back into the playoff conversation. On the other side, the Loons have taken 16 of 18 points in their last six MLS matches and now sit 3rd in the Western Conference. This game should be fantastic to watch and one where we hope both teams keep their unbeaten streaks alive.
The Side: A draw
ATXFC Impact Rating: 4
Philadelphia Union vs Houston Dynamo – Saturday @ 6:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
This almost got the “meh” treatment as Houston is dangerously close to becoming an afterthought in the playoff race. The Crynamo lost at home in front of dozens of fans last week and now hit the road to face the beasts of the East. Philly, we have but one request:
The Side: The Philadelphia Santa Fighters
ATXFC Impact Rating: 2.5
Nashville SC vs Vancouver Whitecaps – Saturday @ 7:00 p.m. (ESPN+)
The theme of the Coyotes season is to take two steps forward and then two steps back. Kind of like MC Skat Kat.
If only Nashville’s music scene was this cool. Anyway, they’ll be hosting the Canadian Champions this weekend after Vancouver got by Toronto FC in penalties during the mid-week.
You have to think that Vancouver’s legs may be a bit weary and while I’m sure the playoffs are still a goal, having that CCL spot locked up for next season is a nice consolation. Nashville probably wins here, but we’ll hope for the upset.
The Side: CHAMPIONS OF THE NORTH
ATXFC Impact Rating: 2
FC Dallas vs LA Galaxy – Saturday @ 8:00 p.m. (ESPN+)
This game is wildly intriguing. Both clubs are coming into the game off of much needed victories and both are fighting for their playoff lives. Frisco sits in the 5th while L.A. is in the 7th and final spot, but they are separated by just two points. It’s completely plausible that the Toros will find themselves out of top 7 after this weekend. Let’s choose that option.
The Side: Galaxy brain
ATXFC Impact Rating: 3.5
San Jose Earthquakes vs Real Salt Lake – Saturday @ 9:00 p.m. (ESPN+)
The Earthquakes are here to play spoiler for the rest of the season. And friends, they can be a pain in the ass. San Jose won in Carson two weeks ago and gave Portland everything that they could handle last week at Providence Park. Now the Quakes go home to face an RSL side that lost it’s first home match of the year last weekend and hasn’t been particularly good on the road. This match has chaos written all over it. That’s bad news for 4th place RSL, but great for all of us who just want to watch the world burn.
The Side: San Jose
ATXFC Impact Rating: 3.5