The Seattle Sounders and OL Reign are off this week. For Reign it's because they have an international break. For the Sounders, it's because of the odd number of teams.
Frei and company will watch the standings shift and wobble without any control of their own destiny. The midweek win nearly assured them of making the playoffs (Sports Club Stats puts their odds at 99.9%). But making the playoffs is the expectation in Seattle.
It's hard to put on the hat of a professional player who is out of control of their future. They just have to watch. I'm certain some will instead hike in the mountains, or head out on a boat – just get away from everything soccer. Others will be glued to multiple screens in a combination of scouting, hoping and enjoying the game that they play because they love it.
Players this weekend will in many ways be just like the fanbase. Passively accepting results they have no control over. Results that have control over their hopes and their dreams.
The team and the fans will have 14 MLS games that impact the chances of winning the next trophy, whether major (MLS Cup) or minor (The West). Home-field advantage matters. In the playoffs that's hosting two games rather than one, reducing the chances at the chaos of a shootout and pushing forward into the second round.
The tl;dr is root for every road team except LAFC (never root for LAFC anyway) and St. Louis. You want only minor complications to rooting interest? Then Austin v. Galaxy and RSL v Whitecaps should be draws.
For those choosing to watch the matches based on quality of play and importance to the Seattle Sounders here's a guide for those that want Seattle to win the West.
- Philly hosts LAFC at 4:30 pm PT on MLS Season Pass. This is a premier matchup anyway. These are the only teams that can claim to be as good as the Sounders in the Schmetzer era. Both have strong seasons and at times have looked to be the best in the league, and like Seattle have had times where they look mediocre. A draw is a decent result, but a Union win is the best for that shot at a small banner for Lumen – did you know that the only time the Sounders finished first in the Western Conference was the year they won the Shield?
- Minnesota needs to beat St. Louis at 5:30 PM PT on MLS Season Pass. Loons are coming off a massive midweek loss after giving up a 3-1 lead. Minnesota needs to beat their midwestern rivals to stay in the playoff hunt. A St. Louis win nearly eliminates the Sounders from taking the conference.
- RSL v. Vancouver is free on Apple TV, and an opportunity to see the latest Western Conference team behaving like they want to win the conference. It's probably too late for the Whitecaps to do that. Still, they've captured 10 points in their last six played and are probably the second most exciting team in the West to watch.
- The most exciting team to watch these days is Houston. Dynamo are at Sporting KC (5:30 pm PT/Apple TV). The last time Ben Olsen lost was July 13. His side is both charging up the standings and competing for a trophy midweek in the U.S. Open Cup final (versus Miami on CBS Sports Network and Paramount+ Wednesday 5:30 pm).
- On Sunday skip the Inter non-Messi match and instead watch Austin v. LA Galaxy. Austin has a solid atmosphere and might be capable of making a late run into the second season.
That's five matches to watch and you're not a sicko. Get outside. It's not quite fall yet. - Dave
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Los Angeles might lose the Men's World Cup; Apple wants to change soccer, not just MLS; Memorial Stadium project takes step forward
Stan Kroenke owns a half-dozen sports teams, is worth billions, and is arguing with FIFA about who should pay for the improvements to the brand new, $5.5 billion stadium that are necessary for it to host World Cup soccer. Kroenke owns two soccer teams, but forgot to make the stadium fit FIFA standards.
In GQ we learn that Apple's involvement in MLS has a direct Sounders connection.
Cue was only interested in a deal that would allow Apple to influence “how to present [the game], deliver it, and use technology.” Apple wasn’t just looking for a sport to air—it wanted a sport that was open to being changed by Apple.
Some of the things Apple wants to do but hasn't been able to crack yet is to give fans more access to the players during warmups, market the players as whole people, expand the quality of play, and more.
The first vote necessary for the Memorial Stadium renovation by the Oak View Group was unanimous. There's one more vote before the project to modernize the high school football stadium begins.
- Seattle U men's soccer won the Fewing Cup, beating the UW 3-2 Thursday night.
- The Pac-2 is exploring a promotion/relegation model involving other western athletic conferences.
- People who don't follow MLS think that Messi is going to score at least 13 goals in his final six games. They're willing to lose a lot of money to prove how little they follow MLS.
Puget Sound Soccer
What else are we watching this weekend?
Jamaica women vs Canada in Women's Olympic Qualifying at 5 pm PT on CBS Sports Golazo Network. Quinn and Huitema are there. It's a home-and-home series with the winner joining the US in Paris with the loser staying home.
Brentford men vs Everton in EPL action on NBC at 9:30 am PT. Putting non-giants on the broadcaster is wonderful. Watch soccer where the results don't matter.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds vs New Mexico United in USL Chamionship play at 4 pm PT. Andrew Thomas visits the USL Shield leaders in what is nearly a must-win game for New Mexico.
Tacoma Defiance vs Whitecaps II in MLS Next Pro play at 2 pm PT at Starfire Stadium and on MLS Season Pass (paid). This final match of the regular season can't harm Defiance in the Western Conference standings, but can increase their potential for hosting the Next Pro championship. Braudilio Rodrigues is an extreme long shot at capturing the Golden Boot, being three goals behind the leaders and tied for fifth. Gio Miglietti is three goals short of being the sixth Defiance/S2 player to net double-digit goals. Every player on the list ahead of him had an MLS contract for at least part of a season – except Brau, who seems likely to get one in the offseason (just maybe not here).
USA women vs South Africa at 2:30 pm PT on TNT and Universo. This friendly in Chicago is the final time that the legendary Megan Rapinoe will wear the red, white and blue as a competitive soccer player. You'll have at least two more opportunities to see her with Reign.