Another incredible MLS slate takes centerstage this week, featuring some of the best teams in the league going head to head.
My MLS predictions last Saturday could not have gone worse, but it’s okay because sometimes that’s just life, especially in Major League Soccer. It’s one of the most unpredictable soccer leagues on planet Earth.
We just saw last year’s league champions, LAFC, get shut out twice by Houston Dynamo, a team who had yet to prove that they even deserved to be in the league. Will we witness a similar upset in the mid-week slate?
FC Cincinnati vs Toronto FC Wednesday, June 21, 2023
When we start discussing three must-watch MLS games for Wednesday’s mid-week slate we need to talk about FC Cincinnati hosting Toronto FC. Cincinnati sits atop the Eastern Conference standings and is in great form right now. They host the struggling Toronto FC in front of their home crowd which could definitely spell trouble for this team from the north. These two teams have both been high-scoring and fun to watch so this could be a barn burner.
FC Cincinnati ranks first in the Eastern Conference with a 12-4-1 record. They’ve allowed just 16 goals across 17 games while putting up 27 goals of their own in that same stretch. Cincinnati has won the most games in the MLS and has scored in their last 15 games. They are playing at home against a terrible road team in Toronto. Toronto failed to score in four out of the last six games played on the road and they play one of the highest-scoring home teams in the MLS. That spells trouble.
Toronto is not very good. They currently sit 26th in the league in expected goals with an xG of 1.14 but it’s their actual total that’s really bad at just .94 goals score on average per game. They have yet to win a game on the road this year and have lost three out of the last four games on the road. None of these stats point towards good things for Toronto FC.
No matter how you look at it, this is definitely one of the three must-watch MLS games for Wednesday’s mid-week slate. Cincinnati is a team that is looking to keep the pedal to the metal since they have so many teams right on their heels. Look for another Toronto loss on the road Wednesday.
Portland Timbers vs Chicago Fire Wednesday, June 21, 2023
We’ve got an East vs West match-up in this must-watch MLS game for Wednesday’s mid-week slate. This one features the ninth-place Western Conference team in the Portland Timbers as they host the bottom-of-the-barrel, Eastern Conference punching bag, Chicago Fire. The Portland Timbers are not the greatest team but they should be able to take advantage of this Chicago Fire team who has the third-worst defense in the Eastern Conference.
When the Chicago Fire visits Portland Wednesday, June 21, you know that the team is thinking something has to change. Their defense is porous, they aren’t winning, and really they are only scoring consolation goals in their most recent games. The only team worse than them in the MLS is Inter Miami, but with the arrival of international soccer superstar Lionel Messi, I doubt they will remain there for long. Chicago has loads of work to do if they don’t want to be bottom feeders the rest of the season.
The Portland Timbers, on the other hand, are a true middle-of-the-pack team. They currently sit ninth in the Western Conference with a 5-6-7 record. They’ve only lost once in their last five games at home and have a current xG of 1.38 good for 17th overall in MLS. They have the 20th-ranked overall defense in the league too. So, as you can see, they really are just an average team.
Because of the quality of play we are getting from these two teams, it’s a difficult game to call. The Portland Timbers at home have only lost once in their last six games, but that’s a bit misleading since they only won three of those matches outright (it’s not like they went 5-1). I am leaning more toward the fact the Chicago Fire is awful, and will give up a win to this Timbers team.
CF Montreal vs Nashville SC Wednesday, 21 June 2023
I believe this is THE must-watch MLS game for Wednesday’s mid-week slate. Both of these teams are headed in the right direction and have been dominating their opponents. It’s yet to be seen if this Montreal team can stay motivated without the leadership of their injured and absent team captain Samuel Piette. The road team in this match-up, Nashville has been truly crushing teams overall, but their road has been a bit different — one reason being their league-leading defense. Both of these teams have stellar aspects to them, but who will prevail?
This Nashville team started the season hot and has not let up all season. And now they have not lost a game in their last ten, winning seven and drawing three of those. They have been putting up a ton of goals and look relatively unstoppable in that department. They are currently ranked second in their conference and have won two and drawn two in their last four road games.
Nashville had arguably the best MLS player in the league in Hany Mukhtar (at least until Messi was signed). Montreal has never beaten Nashville, just for a little extra stat to sprinkle on top. Nashville’s league-leading defense should cause Montreal trouble, especially with the Montreal injuries.
While Montreal has improved over the season, they are hosting a red-hot Nashville team, which is a tall task right now for three reasons. First, they have never beaten Nashville. Second, they are missing their No. 1 offensive weapon and captain Sam Piette. Third, Montreal has the third-weakest offensive attack in the MLS currently.
Safe to say, this will be worth tuning in for.
Loads of Great MLS Games
There are more than just the three must-watch MLS games for Wednesday’s mid-week slate that you could be looking forward to. We have 12 games overall and all of them have real implications. The Timbers vs Fire game is one of the more interesting as the Chicago Fire looks to get out of the bottom of the MLS table before Messi starts playing. Nashville, meanwhile, looks to maintain their top-notch play in a race for first place.