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MLS Week 1 Preview: Inter Miami and Nashville SC debut, and more

The 2020 Major League Soccer season gets underway on Saturday, with D.C. United and the Colorado Rapids kicking off a busy weekend of action.

Expansion sides Inter Miami and Nashville SC begin their introduction to MLS, and do so against two of the strongest teams in the league. Nashville’s MLS debut comes against Southern rival Atlanta United, while Inter Miami has traveled cross-country to take on a Los Angeles FC side still riding high from its’ impressive Concacaf Champions League triumph over Club Leon.

The weekend also features the MLS debut for stars such as LA Galaxy striker Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez and Sporting Kansas City striker Alan Pulido, and also marks the MLS coaching debut for Thierry Henry, Tab Ramos and Ronny Deila, Raphael Wicky and Diego Alonso, as well as the return to MLS for coaches Gary Smith and Oscar Pareja.

Here is a rundown of all 13 MLS matches this weekend:

Los Angeles FC vs. Inter Miami

(Sunday, 5:30p,m, ESPN)

LAFC enters as the strongest team in Major League Soccer, and welcomes the league’s newest team, an Inter Miami side with some good MLS experience. Even with Thursday’s CCL dramatics potentially producing some fatigue, LAFC is a well-oiled machine that should give David Beckham’s club a harsh welcome to life in MLS.


Nashville SC vs. Atlanta United

(Saturday, 8pm, FOX)

Nashville built a very tough defense, by expansion team standards, but that defense will be severely tested by a Five Stripes attack that looked like it was in mid-season form in CCL play. Pity Martinez will see plenty of Dax McCarty, assuming he isn’t rested, and should put together a strong opener to help Atlanta record the road win.

PREDICTION – Atlanta United 2-1

Columbus Crew vs. New York City FC

(Sunday, 12:30pm, ESPN+)

The new-look Columbus Crew show off their revamped squad against a stacked NYCFC team coming off an impressive showing in Concacaf Champions League. Ronny Deila should turn to some bench options to keep his squad fresh, but that will make it tougher to stop a Crew team poised for a bounce-back season. Lucas Zelarayan has himself an impressive debut for Columbus.

PREDICTION – Crew, 2-1 

Portland Timbers vs. Minnesota United

(Sunday, 7:30pm, FS1)

Two Western Conference playoff teams square off, with the Timbers looking to see how their defense holds up after showing some vulnerability in preseason. The Loons should provide a good test, with new striker Luis Amarilla set to show why he should be a darkhorse pick for MLS Newcomer of the Year.


Houston Dynamo vs. LA Galaxy

(Saturday, 3:30pm, Univision/TUDN)

The Tab Ramos era begins in Houston, but it starts with a very tough test against a Galaxy side poised for a big season. Chicharito Hernandez makes his MLS debut in Texas, where he should signal his arrival with a big game against a suspect Dynamo defense.

PREDICTION – Galaxy, 3-1

Seattle Sounders vs. Chicago Fire

(Sunday, 3pm, ESPN)

The Sounders will look to regroup after their shocking exit from the Concacaf Champions League. Luckily for the reigning MLS Cup champions, they start the regular season with a match against a patchwork Fire team playing their first match under new head coach Raphael Wicky, and playing without several of the team’s recent signings.

PREDICTION – Sounders, 3-0

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Toronto FC

(Saturday, 5:30 p.m., ESPN+)

The Earthquakes begin their second season under Matias Almeyda, and it starts against a tough TFC side that starts the season without Michael Bradley and new designated player Pablo Piatti.

PREDICTION – Earthquakes, 2-1

FC Dallas vs. Philadelphia Union

(Saturday, 6pm, ESPN+)

The battle of homegrown-heavy squads features Jesus Ferreira and Brenden Aaaronson in a clash of potential U.S. Olympic qualifying teammates. Dallas is tough at home, and Fafa Picault should be motivated to put a goal or two past his former team.

PREDICTION – FC Dallas, 2-1

Montreal Impact vs. New England Revolution

(Saturday, 1pm, ESPN+)

Fresh off midweek Concacaf Champions League action, the Impact face a very tough challenge in a reloaded New England side, though Carles Gil’s absence with a foot injury gives the Impact some hope.

PREDICTION – Revolution, 2-0

D.C. United vs. Colorado Rapids

(Saturday, 1pm, ESPN+)

D.C. United’s dynamic midfield should have the edge over the Rapids, while the D.C. defense stifles Colorado’s attack, keeping Kei Kamara under wraps.

PREDICTION – D.C. United, 1-0

New York Red Bulls vs. FC Cincinnati

(Sunday, 1pm, ESPN+)

Ryan Meara posts a comfortable shutout while Kaku starts the new year with a strong performance against a Cincinnati side that is still far away from being competitive.

PREDICTION – Red Bulls, 2-0

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Sporting Kansas City

(Saturday, 10:30pm, ESPN+)

New MLS strikers Lucas Cavallini and Alan Pulido trade goals in their league debuts.


Orlando City vs. Real Salt Lake

(Saturday, 6pm, ESPN+)

Is Dom Dwyer ready for a bounce-back season? Look for him to start the new year with a goal against a weakened RSL side.

PREDICTION – Orlando City, 2-1

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