Discover more from Score Secondary
MLS Matchday 2 (3/4/2023) Watch Grid
Presented on Legal Pad and 1.0mm Pilot G-2 Pens in Green and Purple
Welcome to the first post on Score Secondary! This is my blog, upon which I’ll discuss topics related to American Soccer, specifically Major League Soccer, though more will inevitably sneak in. My primary focus is Sporting Kansas City, though I’m also invested in the outcomes of San Diego Loyal SC in USL Championship and the KC Current and San Diego Wave of the NWSL. I’ll have a meatier post coming out soon in which I describe the sort of mission statement of the blog as a whole, but since this work is time-sensitive, I’m gonna start with this: My first weekend watchability grid! This is an adaptation of the weekly grid put out by Jason Kirk during the College Football season. I’ll explain my reasonings below.
All times presented in God’s Time — Central Standard, which is also non-coincidentally the one in which I live.
I swear to GOD I got that loose hair off my scanner. Life is Pain.
There will be 14 MLS matches played today, Saturday, March 4th, 2023. This is a whole lot of soccer to get dropped on you, so I’m using my years of obsessive MLS-watching to hopefully guide novice viewers towards ideal outcomes.
This is divided into two sections. On the left are the free matches available on the Apple TV app, and on the right are those only available through the MLS Season Pass. This season, most matches start at 7:30pm locally, along with one extra match in the afternoons. This presents between 4 and 5 start time windows. My goal here is to present one highly entertaining match for viewers to watch in each window. This is indicated by the letter “W”. I’ll declare a winner for each window. In the case that the winner’s a free game, I’ll only declare one per window, but if it’s only available on the Season Pass, I’ll mark the best game down for the free viewers as well — This way, everybody gets a recommendation for each window, unless there genuinely isn’t a good game available.
I’ll add two special marks each week: First is the Game of the Week, the one which I believe offers the most entertainment value on its face. Second is the Artisan’s Choice, the game that offers the best possible opportunity for the chaos and weirdness that define what I love about MLS. This is for those with a refined taste.
I’ve also included marks for rivalry games which might be of interest to a viewer for the added intensity (Though I’ll admit the only one I marked down this week is a bit of a stretch: Revs/Dynamo is MLS’s equivalent to Cowboys/Bills, Bulls/Jazz, or Yankees/Braves. The blood in Colorado/Sporting KC runs angrily currently, but its primary bad-blood instigator, Diego Rubio, is sidelined with an injury to begin the year.) For the early year, I’m including some asterisks to indicate which teams will partake in Concacaf Champions League matches in the mid-week, and thus potentially presenting abnormal lineups which might alter the quality of their performance. This is not a guarantee this week, as we’re still only two weeks into the season and coaches might prioritize getting their starters more competitive minutes over saving them out of the risk of injury, but it’s something to keep in mind with each of these.
I hope that makes sense, and if I want to make changes as the season continues, I’ll do so with explanations in future posts. My explanations for this week’s slate are as follows
Window 1 (3:30 PM)
Window Winner: Portland Timbers at Los Angeles FC
Timbers/LAFC wins this one by default. I have no idea what to expect from LAFC, as their first match was cancelled, and even though I watched all 90 minutes of Portland’s Monday night match with Sporting KC, I have no idea what to expect from them, either. The big question for both will involve their Center Forwards: For LAFC, Mahalo Opoku will likely take over the Center Forward spot from the highly productive Chicho Arango and the highly clutch in one specific moment Gareth Bale. Jaroslaw Niezgoda played up to expectations last weekend, which is to say that Timbers fans were unhappy with him, so there’s intrigue there as well, especially with the very exciting Colombian midfielder Evander accompanying him.
Window 2 (6:30 PM)
Window Winner: FC Cincinnati at Orlando City SC
There is a possibility that this is the Eastern Conference Semifinal matchup. I nearly decided against picking this one, as I don’t know how many of Orlando’s stars will play, and if they do, for how long, but even if a few good starters rest, Orlando’s depth pieces, like Superdraft picks Duncan Mcguire and Abdi Salim and late-offseason signings Dagur Dan Thorhallson and Ramiro Enrique, are intriguing enough prospects. FC Cincinnati managed to score enough to win last week despite a quiet performance from Brandon Vazquez, so if they get him going, we could see attacking prowess from both sides. Both sides have excellent defensive backlines and goalkeepers, too.
Free Window Winner: Nashville SC at New York Red Bulls
Nashville performed very well last weekend at home against NYCFC, especially once Hany Mukhtar was subbed on late. You can never go wrong with choosing to watch Hany. This might also have some intrigue in the form of Nashville’s healthy host of Red Bull alumni, like Dax McCarty, Alex Muyl, and Sean Davis, returning back to Harrison. For the Red Bulls, we’re looking to see if Dante Vanezir can be the consistent goal-scoring center-forward they’ve lacked since Bradley Wright-Phillips’ retirement.
Honorable Mention: DC and Columbus both had fascinating performances last weekend, Columbus looking really good for a bit against the Union, before Jim Curtin’s Bulldozer of the Delaware River remembered who they were and ran through the Crew. DC had an incredible late comeback against Toronto, and it’ll be interesting to see how or if they carry that momentum to Week 2.
Window 3 (7:30 PM)
Window Winner/Game of the Week: LA Galaxy at FC Dallas
FC Dallas and the LA Galaxy both have theoretically intriguing attacks this season. We don’t know for sure, because the Galaxy didn’t play last weekend, and Dallas didn’t attack last weekend, but I’m hoping that, in this match, both the Puig/Jovelic combo and the Velasco/Ferreira combo produce goals in this match. Adding intrigue here is that this will be Sebastian Lletget’s first ever match against the LA Galaxy, the team that employed him from 2015 to 2021.
Free Game of the Window: Free viewers, do not feel compelled to switch over to Chicago/NYCFC. I am putting these sentences down to make clear that I am in no way recommending anyone to watch Chicago/NYCFC
Honorable Mention: St. Louis CITY against Charlotte FC will be a fascinating spectacle as the first match in the new CITYPark stadium. If St. Louis brings their tenacity from last week and if Charlotte brings their joie de vivre from last season with them, it could be an interesting match!
Window 4 (8:30PM)
Winner By Default: Colorado Rapids vs Sporting Kansas City
With only two Mountain Time clubs in MLS, either Colorado or Real Salt Lake will win this window by default most of the time. I will be watching this one, as my team’s in it. There is intrigue here, both teams coming off of losses in which neither team did the one thing they’re known for particularly well: Defensive Stalwart Colorado gave up four goals and Attack Attack Attack Kansas City couldn’t score a single goal. Both teams will be miffed, which should create intrigue.
Window 5 (9:30PM)
Window Winner / Artisan’s Choice: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at San Jose Earthquakes
San Jose’s going to be like watching a talented, but young and nervous kid at a piano recital struggling through a Mozart piece. A lot of wobbling, a lot of uncertainty and awkwardness, interspersed with moments of absolute beauty — Exemplified by the dribbling and passing sequences from Rodrigues to Cristian Espinoza to Jeremy Ebobisse which created their lone goal against Atlanta last week. Vancouver, on the other hand, is like watching a Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt show in the early 2010s, where you can’t tell if you like it or if it’s of any quality to you, but it’s earnest and nobody else is doing it that way in a manner that proves transfixing in both success and failure. This match should produce plenty of figurative fireworks. No real fireworks, of course — PayPal Park is too close to an airport for that.
Honorable Mention: Real Salt Lake at Seattle Sounders FC
It’s rarely a good one between these two, rarely a fun one between these two, but it’s always a one between these two. To further the music analogy of the prior entry, what makes RSL/Sounders interesting is the same sort of dissonance between highly talented instrumentalists and non-musically talented but rhetorically effective frontman that made Limp Bizkit enthralling in the early 2000s. You cannot put two entities so opposite in philosophy and desire against one another with such hot-blooded recent history without something at least abnormal and unique coming out. This will also be the first time that Albert Rusnak and Damir Kreilach play against one another.
The Odd Team Out
With 29 teams and 14 matches per matchday, one MLS team will always be on a bye week. This week, it’s Minnesota United FC. Loons fans, in lieu of watching your team, feel free to go out to some archetypal Twin City diner and talk with middle-aged dads about the resurgent Minnesota Gophers hockey team.
Everybody else, enjoy the soccer this weekend!