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Very Mini Very Quick Mid-Week MLS Watch Grid for May 31st, 2023
Big game tonight among a host of smaller, less big ones
We have kind of a weird mid-Week thing going on this Wednesday. We have an irregular start time, a big game featuring an MLS team happening outside of the league, and a few pretty intriguing matchups in the Eastern conference. Fair warning here: This will be an abbreviated post, which is what I’m going for with these anyway, but I’m going to do everything in my power not to let the words get away from me today.
Window .5 (6:00pm)
Window Winner: New England Revolution at Atlanta United FC
This one’s on FS1, to whom a 6:00pm time slot normally actually means a 6:25pm kickoff, but according to the MLS website, this will actually kick at 6:00pm. This will lead-in to the first leg of the CCL final between Los Angeles and Club Léon, so you might be perfectly well-suited to sit down in front of a TV tuned to The F’Zone (Internally, meaning within my own brain, I pronounce it “F’Zone”, like the classic Pizza Hut product the “P’Zone”, which was a calzone you could get from Pizza Hut, because you could feasibly pronounce it that way if you see it spelled out as “FSOne”1)
It is strange to see what the Revolution are dealing with at the moment. What is one of the best defensive structures in the league has been weakened by injury, evidenced by the 3 goals given up to the Chicago Fire on Saturday. They made up for that by finally getting some production out of their veteran attacking players. They’re coming off of a weird result, a 3-3 draw against a struggling team that, judging by the standings, they shouldn’t be happy with, but given the actual circumstances, I think they have to be okay with it. They’ve now gone three matches without a win, they’re ostensibly slumping, but I still think they’re an interesting team to pay attention to, especially going down to Atlanta, where Thiago Almada and Giorgios Giakoumakis will await their struggling defensive spine.
Window One (6:30pm)
(Free) Window Winner: Charlotte FC at Philadelphia Union
This match builds on my thesis from Saturday — Every matchday is bringing some intrigue in the Eastern Conference, there are too many above average teams colliding. In this one, we have a Charlotte team coming off of a road victory and six wins in their last seven matches traveling to face a Philadelphia Union team that I figured I’d have to wait longer to say is back to being the Philadelphia Union — They’re unbeaten in their last seven and just beat New York City at home. The main issue that I think you can pick at with Charlotte’s recent run of good form is that, though they’ve been able to score goals by committee, they’ve done it against below-average defenses, and their one loss came to the stingy backline of Nashville. Traveling to Chester and playing that great Union defense will test this hypothesis.
I’m Interested In This:
FC Cincinnati at New York City FC
New York City has now lost at home. Prior to the 3-1 loss to the Union on Saturday, they’d been unbeaten at home, but now that’s not a given anymore. They have an advantage, though, in that they have multiple home stadiums. They’re still unbeaten at Yankee Stadium, where they’ll await the league-leading FC Cincinnati. If they lose here, then they’re fucked. They’ll have to go back to their other homes, those of the Red Bulls, St. John’s, UCONN, or LAFC to get wins.
Chicago Fire at Toronto FC
We all had fun picking out a grave plot for TFC last week, but that actually seemed to energize them into their first truly impressive performance of the 2023 season, and they have the opportunity to build momentum at home here. Chicago’s in an opposite scenario, wherein they’re basically anonymous and keep putting together somewhat respectable performances under Frank Klopas.
Window Two (7:30pm)
Window Winner: FC Dallas at Sporting Kansas City
Here we have a team that is pretty clearly and consistently decent-to-good (but rarely in any spectacular fashion) in FC Dallas coming in to take on a team that has at the very least started to change from consistently terrible to inconsistently successful. If we take the 4-0 drubbing on the other side of Missouri out of the equation, Sporting KC has found an attacking philosophy that seems to work, has beaten up on some middle-tier Western Conference foes at home, and has even found good performances against good Western Conference foes on the road in the last month. If both teams come out looking like the best versions of themselves, I think we’ll have an entertaining one on our hands here, but there’s always the possibility that Dallas comes out lackadaisical and Kansas City comes out and whips twenty crosses into scrums that go nowhere.
I’m Interested In This (For Free): Minnesota United FC at Austin FC
Both of these teams only seem to be able to win in ugly fashions. If you’re a fan of effort and determination and, probably, at the most, a 1-1 draw, this one might give you something. Gyasi Zardes has now scored in three straight for Austin!
Window Three (8:30pm)
I’m Only Interested In This Because It Is Free: Los Angeles Galaxy at Real Salt Lake
If you don’t have any way to watch the Concacaf Champions League Final, then I suppose that you have this. The Galaxy, with the Open Cup taunting and the arguments between Greg Vanney and supporters, and now the firing of Chris Klein, finally, are more interesting off of the pitch than they are on the pitch, and Real Salt Lake is interesting in neither regard at the moment. It is free on Apple TV, though!
Window Three-and-a-half (9:00pm)
Game of the Weeknight: Los Angeles FC at Club Léon
I guess that I’m breaking my own rules here in putting a non-MLS match on the grid, but I don’t care. This is going to be a fascinating two legged series here. Los Angeles has looked every bit the best team in Concacaf in their run to this final, though they have yet to face a team out of Liga MX. Léon managed to upset Tigres in the semifinals, which is a fact I got wrong on Saturday, so LAFC won’t have the opportunity to avenge their 2020 Final loss. In fact, it’s Léon that came out on the wrong side of their tie in the 2020 CCL first round, losing the 2-0 lead they’d accumulated in the first leg on the road in Los Angeles only days before sports shut down for months due to COVID-19. In that sense, we have a couple of years-long arcs coming to a conclusion in the 2023 CCL finals.
Window Four (9:30pm)
Also Available For Free: Houston Dynamo at Vancouver Whitecaps
I think that we have two playoff teams here. I think it’s possible that we have a preview of the 8-9 game in the West here. I do not think that we have a better match than the one in Léon here, though we probably have a better match than the one in Salt Lake City here.
Really that stemmed from me pronouncing the late-era redesign of the Sony Playstation, stylized “psOne” as “P’Zone”, which then was adopted to FS1. If I poison one person to start calling FS1 the “F’Zone”, like ‘fuh-zone’, I will have succeeded in my ultimate mission with this blog.