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MLS Week 4 Preview: NYCFC-Union, Austin FC-Sounders headline the action

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Week 4 of MLS action includes a couple of matchups among the top teams in each conference, with defending MLS Cup champions New York City FC hosting a possible Eastern Conference contender in the Philadelphia Union. Out West, the Seattle Sounders travel to take on Austin FC.

New York City FC and the Seattle Sounders each triumphed in midweek in Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal second leg matches. Now, they must transition back to MLS play on short rest. The Sounders notched their first win last week with a late goal to beat the Galaxy, 3-2. NYCFC looks to follow up last week’s 4-1 win over CF Montreal against an in-form Union side.

Things do not get any easier for expansion side Charlotte FC, as it hosts the New England Revolution a week after a heart-breaking late loss to Atlanta United.

FC Cincinnati moves on from an excellent away win last week to face a struggling Inter Miami side. Another downtrodden team, Atlanta United, has a chance to bounce back with a match against CF Montreal, which will play on short rest after a CCL loss.

Here is a look ahead to this week’s top five MLS matchups.


New York City FC vs. Philadelphia Union


Saturday, 1 p.m., ESPN+

This is a rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference final, in which Talles Magno’s late goal sent the eventual MLS Cup champions through to their first Cup appearance. It was one of the best playoff matches of 2021, with the Union fighting valiantly despite many COVID-related absences.

This time, Magno and NYCFC’s attack is starting to gain steam as they face the unbeaten Union. Union centerbacks Jakob Glesnes and Jack Elliott have their work cut out for them against the NYCFC partnership between Valentin “Taty” Castellanos and Maxi Moralez.


LA Galaxy vs. Orlando City


Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Univision, TUDN, Twitter

The Galaxy’s loss last week to the Sounders took the wind out of their sail, but Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and company return home to face Orlando City. Galaxy winger Douglas Costa scored his first goal with the club last week and looks to continue performing. Both teams enter the matchup with a mostly clean bill of health.

Orlando City is on a run of poor form to start the season, and new DP winger Facundo Torres has yet to make a huge impact. Orlando has shown some defensive strength, with two shutouts and positive performances from centerback Antonio Carlos.


Chicago Fire vs. Sporting KC


Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN+

The Fire’s early defensive strength is one of 2022’s biggest surprises. New coach Ezra Hendrickson seems to have fixed the club’s biggest issue from 2021, and the Fire have not given up a goal through three matches.

As for Sporting KC, getting some attacking momentum started will be important. The club has scored only two goals in three matches to start 2022. The Fire could have its hands full, however, contending with two of the league’s top attackers on either side in Daniel Salloi and Johnny Russell.


Austin FC vs. Seattle Sounders


Sunday, 4:30 p.m., FS1, FOX Deportes

The Sounders got back on track in MLS play with a win over the LA Galaxy last weekend. This week, the Sounders face Austin FC on short rest after Thursday’s away CCL tie saw them qualify for the semifinal.

Austin FC, one of the most improved teams from 2021, dropped its first match last week against the Timbers. Sebastian Driussi’s form in attacking midfield is Austin FC’s biggest positive, but the club has also seen standout performances from 21-year-old Venezuelan central midfielder Daniel Pereira. Pereira and Alex Ring will need another solid performance against the Sounders midfield of Cristian Roldan, Nico Lodeiro and Albert Rusnak.

Sounders striker Raul Ruidiaz is expected to miss another game with an injury.


New York Red Bulls vs. Columbus Crew


Sunday, 2 p.m., ESPN+

The unbeaten Columbus Crew enter Red Bull Arena, going up against a Red Bulls side that missed out on any points last weekend against Minnesota United, despite attacking relentlessly.

The Eastern Conference clash brings a battle between two of the most in-form playmakers of the 2022 season, with the Crew’s Lucas Zelarayan and the Red Bulls’ Lewis Morgan. Zelarayan has jumpstarted the Crew’s excellent start to the year with four goals and two assists in three games.

This matchup should produce plenty of goals, with Morgan and Patryk Klimala up top for the Red Bulls and Miguel Berry, Zelarayan and Gyasi Zardes making up the Crew’s attack.


MLS Week 4 Schedule


SATURDAY

1 p.m. – FC Cincinnati vs. Inter Miami, ESPN+

1 p.m. – New York City FC vs. Philadelphia Union, ESPN+

3 p.m. – Toronto FC vs. D.C. United, ESPN+

3:30 p.m. – LA Galaxy vs. Orlando City, Univision, TUDN, Twitter

4 p.m. – Atlanta United vs. CF Montreal, ESPN+

6 p.m. – Chicago Fire vs. Sporting Kansas City, ESPN+

7 p.m. – Charlotte FC vs. New England Revolution, ESPN+

8 p.m. – Minnesota United vs. San Jose Earthquakes, ESPN+

8:30 p.m. – FC Dallas vs. Portland Timbers, ESPN+

8:30 p.m. – Houston Dynamo vs. Colorado Rapids, ESPN+

9 p.m. – Real Salt Lake vs. Nashville SC, ESPN+

SUNDAY

2 p.m. – New York Red Bulls vs. Columbus Crew, ESPN+

4:30 p.m. – Austin FC vs. Seattle Sounders, FS1, FOX Deportes

10 p.m. – LAFC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, ESPN+

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