The wait is over. MLS, the wildest, most entertaining league in the world, is back! Of course there are some major changes this year. A new, incredibly convoluted playoff format was just announced with more teams making it to the post-season. (Sorry Houston, you’ll still find a way to miss out.) A new team joins the mix as St. Louis CITY (yes, all caps is a thing) enters as the 29th club. And best of all, MLS has a new TV partner in Apple that has streamlined the viewing experience. Gone are the weird kickoff times and in comes a whip-around show plus standardized game starts. As an added bonus, every game on Apple TV this week is free!
If you’re unfamiliar with this corner of The False 9, let’s get you caught up. I’m here to simply tell you, the Austin FC fan, who to root for each week. I’m not here to tell you who I think will win. Basically, welcome your weekly dose of spite.
Since the season is just beginning and we don’t have to worry about standings just yet, I’m going to block off games by their start times, focus on a few matches, and not worry about the ATX Impact Rating just yet. Let’s go!
Nashville SC vs NYCFC – Saturday @ 3:30 p.m. (Fox / Apple TV)
Nashville is back in the East after a year traveling across the country in the Western Conference. Both teams made the playoffs last year with the Pigeons making it to the Conference Finals. This should be a fun start to the year, but let’s be honest, we don’t care who wins this match. Also, MLS severely fucked up by not having El Tráfico at the Rose Bowl in front of 70,000+ fans be the opening match.
The Side: Chips, queso, and a beer
6:30 Block (Apple TV)
Orlando City vs New York Red Bulls
Atlanta United vs San Jose Earthquakes
FC Charlotte vs New England Revolution
FC Cincinnati vs Houston Dynamo
Philadelphia Union vs Columbus Crew
Inter Miami CF vs Club de Foot Montreal
D.C United vs Toronto FC
OK, let’s be real. There are only two games I give a shit about here. First, I’d like to see Atlanta smack San Jose because:
1) I like Atlanta’s fans, and
2) I have an irrational dislike for the Quakes.
Speaking of the Quakes, Houston travels to Ohio to face a Cincinnati club with actual expectations. The Knifey-Lions may end up being one of the most fun teams to watch all season. It’s all-gas, no brakes soccer and I’m here for it. Houston beat Frisco in a closed-door pre-season match last week and you’d think by the way some Dynamo fans are talking online, they’re primed to win the league after such a rousing victory. I guess the team did get some solid practice playing in front of a larger than normal crowd in Houston though.
The Sides: Orlando (yay Felipe!), Atlanta, & Cincinnati. The rest are just fun distractions.
7:30 Block (Apple TV)
FC Dallas vs Minnesota United
The “other” (and far less important) game kicking off during this time slot. Minnesota returns to the site of their last competitive match, a 1-1 draw that ended with a loss on penalty kicks to Frisco in the first round of last season’s playoffs. FC Suburbia had a weird off-season and I’m not sure their front office knows what they want this team to be moving forward. Meanwhile, Minnesota somehow had a worse off season since Emanuel Reynoso isn’t with the team right now and may not be back at all. This game should be a wonderful shit-show.
The Side: Loon-ey Tunes
8:30 Block (Apple TV)
LAFC vs LA Galaxy
I mentioned this earlier, but MLS not having this game on national TV is a major blunder.
- Defending champs in action? Check
- One of the best rivalries in the league? Check
- Rematch of an epic playoff game last year? Check
- Potentially the largest crowd in league history at the country’s most historic venue? Check
- One team’s SGs boycotting the season because of a bad front office? Check
Sometimes the decisions this league makes hurts my head. Anywho, this game should be fun as El Tráfico usually turns out to be. Gareth Bale is playing golf even more full-time than before and Chicho Arango is gone, so the LAFC attack will look a bit different. Chicharito is still around for the Galaxy, but if I’m paying to watch that team, its for Riqui Puig. As for who we want to win, the answer is clear.
The Side: Monty Brewster’s NYC Mayoral Campaign
9:30 Block (Apple TV)
Portland vs Sporting Kansas City
Vancouver vs Real Salt Lake
Seattle Sounders vs Colorado Rapids – Sunday @ 7:00 p.m. (FS1 / Apple TV)
Seattle wasn’t particularly good last year in the MLS season, but they won CCL, so they get a pass. The Sounders should enter this year healthy and with a full focus on MLS, meaning trouble for the rest of the Western Conference. Colorado is, well, Colorado. I hope they pull of a stunner though.
The Side: Rapids