MLS Preview: LAFC-Sounders, Revs-TFC headline top matches in Week 23

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A pair of matches in each conference perfectly characterize the importance of the final stretch of the MLS season. Los Angeles FC looks to continue fighting for Supporters’ Shield with a home matchup against a motivated Sounders team. The Sounders finally clicked in a 2-1 win over the Rapids last weekend, and could be a force to reckon with no matter the opponent given their experience and mission to recover from a poor first half of the season. The Revolution, on their own quest to secure a favorable playoff spot, take on Eastern Conference foe Toronto FC. A new-look TFC features Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi, plus some of the young players that showed flashes before the stars’ arrivals in DeAndre Kerr and Kosi Thompson. A playoff spot is still fairly out of reach for TFC, but a recovery in form could see them nick a playoff spot. This matchup against the Revs, which have recently retooled with signings of DP striker Giacomo Vrioni, will show whether Bob Bradley’s side could be up to the challenge. Other top matches include a clash of two hot teams in Minnesota United vs. Portland Timbers and an Eastern Conference matchup between New York City FC and CF Montreal. Wayne Rooney is set to make his coaching debut Sunday, as D.C. United takes on Orlando City. Here are the top matches in Week 23 of MLS. LAFC vs. Sounders Friday, 11 p.m., FS1, FOX Deportes The Sounders get another shot at LAFC, this time away from home, after a 1-1 draw in May spelled the beginning of a tumultuous end of June and beginning of July for the Sounders. LAFC star Gareth Bale scored his first goal last week in a thoroughly dominant 2-0 win over Sporting KC. LAFC continues to find incredible production from Cristian Arango, with seven goals in his last eight games. Jordan Morris appeared to be at his best last weekend, in a 2-1 win over the Rapids. The Sounders came back from a goal down, even after a red card left them shorthanded most of the second half. Morris scored with a neat chip over Rapids ‘keeper William Yarbrough. This Western Conference match carries some high stakes. LAFC can distance itself from Austin FC for the conference lead and Supporters’ Shield lead. The Sounders, however, are desperate to right the ship after a recent run of awful results. Revolution vs. Toronto FC Saturday, 8 p.m., ESPN+ The Revolution have floundered against high expectations in 2022, while Toronto FC came in knowing it may struggle early, but benefit greatly from the lift of Lorenzo Insigne’s arrival. TFC has done just that, with a 4-0 win over Charlotte FC last weekend providing an Insigne assist and a goal from fellow new signing Federico Bernardeschi. TFC is on a mission to make the playoffs, but are six points shy of the nearest playoff spot in second-to-last in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Revolution are struggling amid a six-match winless streak. New DP signing Giacomo Vrioni may be ready to start at center forward after a substitute appearance last week. Henry Kessler turned in an outstanding performance last week in a draw with the Crew, so be sure to watch how Kessler fares against Jesus Jimenez, Insigne and Bernardeschi in this match. Loons vs. Timbers Saturday, 5 p.m., ABC, ESPN Deportes The Loons and Timbers are two of the hottest teams in recent weeks, with the Loons rattling off six matches unbeaten, with all but one of those games being wins. Giovanni Savarese is showing his knack for winning in the late stages of the year, with the Timbers going seven games unbeaten. The Timbers’ attack has found new life lately, with striker Jaroslaw Niezgoda scoring three goals in his last four games. The Timbers will give Adrian Heath’s side fits on the wings, with Yimmi Chara and Santiago Moreno providing dribbling and crossing ability. The Loons have run on Emanuel Reynoso’s brilliance on this winning run, but a gritty 2-1 away win last weekend with Reynoso out of the lineup showed it’s not just Reynoso that can earn three points. Luis Amarilla and Franco Fragapane are dangerous in the attack, and centerbacks Michael Boxall and Bakaye Dibassy have found a strong partnership, giving up less than two goals for each of the last four matches. FC Dallas vs. Galaxy Saturday, 9 p.m., ESPN+ FC Dallas’ 3-1 win over the Galaxy earlier this season made a statement, with Jesus Ferreira netting twice and Nico Estevez’ team reaching nine unbeaten games in a row. Plenty has changed with FC Dallas since then, however. A winless run stretch from mid-June to mid-July, before the team finally halted the slide with an impressive 1-0 win over RSL last weekend. FC Dallas and the Galaxy both occupy playoff spots, but the Galaxy could jump ahead of FC Dallas with a win in this match. The Galaxy will look to string wins together for the first time since April, coming off a 2-0 win over Atlanta United last weekend. Just as Ferreira has saved FC Dallas at times, the Galaxy lean on young forward Dejan Joveljic, who has provided nine goals in 2022. CF Montreal vs. NYCFC Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN+ CF Montreal welcomes NYCFC this week, looking to remain in the mix in the Eastern Conference. A pair of wins against D.C. United and Toronto FC, plus three goals in three games from Romell Quioto, helped CF Montreal stop from sliding out of the top four. Montreal has the chance to prove itself against an NYCFC team in transition, with an interim coach and the loss of its key striker. Djordje Mihailovic continues a slow recovery from an injury he suffered at the end of May, and will be likely to make his second start in a row. This match is an opportunity for NYCFC to separate itself from CF Montreal and the Red Bulls and possibly even jump ahead of the Union for the Eastern Conference lead. However, some questions remain for Nick Cushing’s side. How will NYCFC adjust without Valentin Castellanos, who transferred to Girona this week? Cushing could choose Heber at center forward, and he has also hinted at the ability to use Talles Magno in that role. NYCFC has plenty of strength without Castellanos, with a strong midfield led by Maxi Moralez and a dependable back line led by Anton Tinnerholm and centerback Thiago Andrade. Replacing Castellanos’ scoring will not be an easy task. Full MLS Week 23 Schedule FRIDAY 11 p.m. – LAFC vs. Sounders, FS1, FOX Deportes SATURDAY 3 p.m. – Loons vs. Timbers, ABC, ESPN Deportes 5 p.m. – Fire vs. Atlanta United, ESPN+ 7 p.m. – Charlotte FC vs. Crew, ESPN+ 7:30 p.m. – CF Montreal vs. NYCFC, ESPN+ 7:30 p.m. – Union vs. Dynamo, ESPN+ 8 p.m. – Inter Miami vs. FC Cincinnati, ESPN+ 8 p.m. – Nashville SC vs. Whitecaps, ESPN+ 8 p.m. – Revolution vs. Toronto FC, ESPN+ 8:30 p.m. – Sporting KC vs. Austin FC, ESPN+ 9 p.m. – FC Dallas vs. LA Galaxy, ESPN+ 10 p.m. – Quakes vs. RSL, ESPN+ SUNDAY 5 p.m. – D.C. United vs. Orlando City, ESPN+

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