Another round of MLS games will be coming up this weekend as the race for a play-off spot begins to heat up.
Here's all you need to know ahead of matchday 35 in MLS.
How to watch Matchday 35 in the 2023 MLS season
Matchday 35 gets underway on Saturday, September 30th. One of the intriguing games this round will be a tie featuring Columbus Crew and Philadelphia Union. Both sides have already secured a spot in the post season playoffs as they sit in fourth and third respectively, but nonetheless will be looking to finish as high in the table as possible.
Those two teams are not the only sides who have already qualified for the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. Leaders Cincinnati have secured their spot with several games to spare, and will be the heavy favorites to pick up another three points when they travel to take on Toronto, who have no shot at featuring in the post season playoffs as they are dead last in the table. Meanwhile, second-placed Orlando will look to avoid being potentially leap-frogged by either Columbus or Philadelphia when they face a Montreal side who are winless in their last five.
Inter Miami will need to pick themselves up from a disappointing midweek loss ahead of their home game against New York City. The Herons are not yet out of the running for a playoffs spot, but with 32 points, really need to start putting some results together in order to catch up to their upcoming visitors, who have earned 37 points and would qualify for the wild card round if the league ended before this weekend.
Over in the Western Conference, things are even more interesting. Only conference leaders St. Louis, who will take on Sporting Kansas City, have already secured their spot in the post season playoffs, while the Colorado Rapids, who will face Austin, have already been eliminated. That means that everyone else - a total of 11 teams - all theoretically are in the running to secure a coveted place in the playoffs. LA Galaxy, who are in the penultimate spot, will hope to be one of those sides when they host the Portland Timbers, but could find that task a lot more difficult considering that the Timbers are on a five-game unbeaten streak, with wins in their most recent four games.
Although they suffered a loss in their last MLS match, Houston Dynamo will certainly be full of confidence after beating Inter Miami 2-1 in the U.S. Open Cup midweek. Currently in a solid fourth spot, the Dynamo will be involved in a Texan derby against ninth-placed Dallas, who are unbeaten in their last five, but have drawn all but one during that unbeaten streak.
Some fans, especially those in the USA will be able to follow some of these games on TV or via live-streaming, with Fox Sports 1, Foxsports.com, Fox Deportes, Sling TV, and FuboTV offering coverage of some matches while Sirius XM also provides coverage via the radio. However, for those who can't access MLS games via TV or prefer a more flexible option, MLS Season Pass offers live streaming of MLS matches in over 100 countries worldwide.
Here is the full list of games for this upcoming round.
Top news of the week in Major League Soccer
Cincinnati could make history this weekend
It's been an absolutely fantastic season for Cincinnati, who hold a nine point lead at the top of the Eastern Conference. Pat Noonan's men will come into their game against Toronto on the cusp of making history. Should Cincinnati, as many expect, beat a Toronto side who have already been eliminated from the post-season playoff competition, they win their first ever Supporters' Shield in club history since being founded only five years ago.
In addition, Cincinnati would also become the first team in the major American professional sport leagues (NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, and MLS) to have finished last in the table in three seasons before managing to win a title immediately after.
Given Toronto's absolutely dismal form, it's safe to say that barring a surprising collapse of epic proportions, Cincinnati will make both club and American sports history this weekend.
How will Inter Miami react after disappointing midweek loss?
It has been a roller-coaster ride for Inter Miami fans, who first saw their team struggling horribly before the arrival of Lionel Messi sparked a remarkable turnaround. However, an injury to Messi during international duty has seen their fortunes take a downturn, as the team have won just one of their last four matches across competitions. Gerardo "Tata" Martino also opted to rest Jordi Alba for several of those games after the veteran defender sustained a muscular problem, while Sergio Busquets, who was one of the team's other major signings, was not involved at all during their 1-1 draw against Orlando City.
Inter Miami have already won one major trophy following their success in the Leagues Cup back in August, but were unable to add another cup to their trophy cabinet as they were beaten 2-1 by Houston Dynamo in the U.S. Open Cup midweek. The Herons are not totally out of the running for a post season playoff spot, but will need to start picking up crucial wins starting with their upcoming home tie against New York City, a team who are unbeaten in their last five matches. However, Inter Miami do have a couple of games in hand after missing out on regular league action due to their involvement in cup ties, so that could certainly play in their favor as they hope to clinch a coveted spot in the playoffs.
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