The summer transfer window is making mid-summer MLS matches interesting, with the Columbus Crew’s Cucho Hernandez making a big mark in his first three matches. Meanwhile, New York City FC was dealt a blow with the eventual departure of Valentin “Taty” Castellanos.
NYCFC moves ahead to face Inter Miami, with Phil Neville’s side coming off a cathartic comeback win over Charlotte FC, in which Gonzalo Higuain played a key role. Whether NYCFC can adjust quickly to change under Nick Cushing continues to be a storyline in the Bronx.
One of the biggest cross-conference matches of the season pits the Red Bulls, with a strong back line led by Aaron Long and an excellent road record, with the attack of Austin FC. Diego Fagundez, Ethan Finlay and Sebastian Driussi will look to continue catching up with Los Angeles FC at the top of the Western Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings.
Here are the top matches in Week 22.
NYCFC vs. Inter Miami
Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPN+
Midseason turnover continues for NYCFC.
First, the team lost its head coach with Ronny Deila leaving for Belgium. Valentin Castellanos said an emphatic goodbye last weekend, scoring the winning goal in the Hudson River Derby. NYCFC will have a chance to show its resilience against an Inter Miami side coming off a 3-2 comeback win that inspired plenty of confidence in attackers Gonzalo Higuain, Bryce Duke and Robert Taylor.
Talles Magno and Santiago Rodriguez are likely to take the reigns in the final third for NYCFC, with Heber lining up at center forward. NYCFC has struggled at times in central midfield, especially now that Keaton Parks is out due to surgery. This matchup with Miami will challenge its center midfield and back line.
Austin FC vs. Red Bulls
Sunday, 8 p.m., ESPN+
The Red Bulls could not quite overcome the challenge presented by NYCFC in a crucial Eastern Conference match last week, but this week the Red Bulls have an opportunity to keep the pace in the Supporters’ Shield race.
Austin FC is on a seven-game unbeaten streak, with Diego Fagundez preserving that run with a late goal at FC Dallas last weekend. Austin FC leads the league in goals scored with 42 and has only suffered defeat once at Q2 Stadium in 2022.
Meanwhile, the Red Bulls’ attack has struggled. Luquinhas has gone three starts without a goal or assist, while Patryk Klimala’s production has slowed, too. Head coach Gerhard Struber may need to opt for Omir Fernandez as a false nine like he did against NYCFC last weekend.
Toronto FC vs. Charlotte FC
Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN+
Toronto FC’s star signing Lorenzo Insigne’s MLS debut has been delayed because of injury, but it might finally come at BMO Field in this match. Insigne could provide a boost for a strong group of young players as Toronto FC pushes for a playoff spot in an ultra-competitive Eastern Conference. A win here could be considered a requirement for such a playoff push, as TFC sit 13th in the Eastern Conference.
Charlotte FC will be looking to rebound from a collapse last weekend in a 3-2 loss to Inter Miami, in which Miami came back from a 2-0 deficit. Yordy Reyna has three goals and four assists in his last four starts for Charlotte FC, but the expansion club will need to show more poise and defensive strength on the road to secure results.
Crew vs. Revolution
Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN+
The Crew are one of the most exciting MLS teams heading into the second half of the season. New signing Cucho Hernandez has turned the Crew’s outlook around almost entirely, scoring four goals in his first three appearances. This matchup is likely to produce plenty of goals, and a Crew win could land them as high as fourth in the Eastern Conference.
This match could be a turning point for the Revs’ playoff push, too, as the team comes off of two-straight losses and vies to come within one point from the Crew with a win.
The Revolution have struggled lately, with losses to NYCFC and the Union highlighting the team’s defensive issues. However, the Revs can probably count on even better offensive production with new signing Giacomo Vrioni ready to join the lineup. Gustavo Bou, who has assumed the starting center forward role, has four goals in his last three games.
Sounders vs. Rapids
Saturday, 10 p.m., ESPN+
The Rapids and Sounders duked it out for first place in the Western Conference last season, but this year brings a much different challenge for each of them. The Sounders’ post-Concacaf Champions League struggles have come to a head, while Robin Fraser’s side struggles to stay consistent. The Rapids are yet to win an away match in 2022, but a trip to Lumen Field this weekend would be a great place to start if Fraser is able to guide the Rapids to a playoff berth.
It is unclear whether Sounders striker Raul Ruidiaz will make a comeback from injury. Ruidiaz has been out the past two weeks with recurring muscle issues. Despite their struggles, the Sounders are still only one point away from occupying a playoff spot. Brian Schmetzer’s side just went through a difficult week, with three straight losses in seven days.
Full MLS Week 22 Schedule
7 p.m. – NYCFC vs. Inter Miami, ESPN+
7:30 p.m. – FC Cincinnati vs. Nashville SC, ESPN+
7:30 p.m. – Crew vs. Revolution, ESPN+
7:30 p.m. – Orlando City vs. Union, ESPN+
7:30 p.m. – Toronto FC vs. Charlotte FC, ESPN+
8 p.m. – D.C. United vs. CF Montreal, ESPN+
8:30 p.m. – Dynamo vs. Minnesota United, ESPN+
8:30 p.m. – Sporting KC vs. LAFC, ESPN+
10 p.m. – RSL vs. FC Dallas, ESPN+
10 p.m. – Sounders vs. Rapids, ESPN+
10 p.m. – Whitecaps vs. Fire, ESPN+
10:30 p.m. – Timbers vs. Earthquakes, ESPN+
8 p.m. – Austin FC vs. Red Bulls, ESPN+
9:30 p.m. – LA Galaxy vs. Atlanta United, ESPN+