Los Angeles FC carries a commanding lead in the Supporters’ Shield standings into Week 27 in MLS action, but a clash with Austin FC has the potential to change the complexion of the race for weeks to come.
Sebastian Driussi and Austin FC host Cristian Arango, Gareth Bale and LAFC Friday night. A win would hand Austin FC a lifeline in terms of Western Conference title contention and could also allow the Philadelphia Union to challenge for the Supporters’ Shield.
Rivalry matches take center stage this week, too, with FC Cincinnati and the Columbus Crew renewing a hotly competitive series. The Seattle Sounders fell to a demoralizing loss last time out to the Portland Timbers, but Brian Schmetzer’s side gets a shot at revenge at Providence Park.
Here are the top matches to watch in Week 27 of MLS.
Austin FC vs. LAFC
Friday, 8 p.m., ESPN, ESPN Deportes
Austin FC vies to make up some ground in the Supporters’ Shield race, or LAFC has the opportunity to pull even further ahead in one of the most highly anticipated matches in the late stage of the 2022 season.
Two of the most prolific offenses in the league clash in this match, with Austin FC led by Diego Fagundez and Golden Boot leader Sebastian Driussi and LAFC boasting Cristian Arango and Gareth Bale, who has been a revelation since joining over the summer. LAFC and Austin FC are tied for the highest scoring sides in the league, with 55 goals scored apiece. The difference between the sides lies in defense, where LAFC have allowed conceded 26 goals.
A win for Austin FC would open some possibility that Josh Wolff’s side could challenge for the Western Conference title. However, a win for LAFC would allow the Supporters’ Shield leaders to go 12 points clear at the top of the conference.
Timbers vs. Sounders
Friday, 10 p.m., ESPN, ESPN Deportes
The previous clash between these Cascadia rivals was a revealing one for both sides. A 3-0 win for the Timbers allowed Giovanni Savarese’s side to go on a successful run over the following weeks, while the Sounders continued to struggle with a predictable attack and a disjointed back line.
Raul Ruidiaz’ return to form is a boost for the Sounders. The Peruvian attacker, who has struggled to stay healthy, scored his first goal since mid-June in a 3-3 draw at the L.A. Galaxy last week. The Timbers, on the other hand, are in the midst of two poor defensive showings in losses to Sporting KC and the Portland Timbers.
The Sounders and Timbers are tied on points in the Western Conference with 33. The Sounders will be emboldened to continue the positive momentum from last week’s result against the Galaxy and get one over on a major rival.
FC Cincinnati vs. Crew
Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN+
The Hell Is Real derby has been one of the highest-scoring in-state rivalries in MLS since its beginning in 2019. FC Cincinnati has gone two years without a victory in this rivalry, and could claw themselves above the Crew into a playoff spot with all three points.
Cucho Hernandez scored as the Crew defeated FC Cincy in mid-July, and Hernandez is still on fire after scoring two goals against Atlanta United in last week’s 2-2 draw. FC Cincinnati boasts one of the top midfield-to-attack partnerships in the league, with Luciano Acosta leading MLS with 14 assists and Brandon Vasquez scoring 15 goals.
Red Bulls vs. Inter Miami
Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPN+
Red Bulls winger Lewis Morgan will face his former club in this Eastern Conference matchup. The Red Bulls are trying to maintain a top-four spot in the Eastern Conference, with Orlando City and Inter Miami gaining on them.
Phil Neville’s side comes off an impressive showing in a 2-1 home win over Toronto FC. The Herons are on a five-match unbeaten streak, and this matchup offers them a chance to come three points away from aiming for a home playoff game.
Inter Miami’s attacking pieces have been lively in recent weeks, but a deciding matchup in this game lies in the central midfield. Jean Mota and Gregore have been spark plugs for Inter Miami, and Red Bulls center midfielder Cristian Caceres will be integral to maintaining the Red Bulls’ handle on the match.
Revolution vs. LA Galaxy
Sunday, 8 p.m., ESPN+
With both the Galaxy and Revolution tied on 34 points in their respective conferences, this is a huge match to dictate the playoff picture for either side. The Revolution have fared well despite several injuries, but a 4-0 loss to CF Montreal crashed the team’s hope for more progress at making the playoffs.
The Galaxy will be disappointed by a collapse last week in a 3-3 home draw with the Sounders. The Galaxy match up well with the Revolution, with Greg Vanney’s side finding strength in the central midfield with Gaston Brugman, Riqui Puig and Samuel Grandsir. The Revs’ Achilles’ heel lies in the middle, but has often been made up for by a strong attack.
The Revolution are in the middle of an injury crisis, with DPs Gustavo Bou and Giacomo Vrioni out injured, plus Dylan Borrero and new attacking signing Ismael Tajouri-Shradi also hurt. With Bou and Vrioni out about a month so far, the Revs could expect them to be back in the lineup soon.
Full MLS Week 27 Schedule
8 p.m. – Austin FC vs. LAFC, ESPN, ESPN Deportes
10 p.m. – Timbers vs. Sounders, ESPN, ESPN Deportes
3:30 p.m. – Loons vs. Dynamo, Univision, TUDN
7 p.m. – Charlotte FC vs. Toronto FC, ESPN+
7 p.m. – Red Bulls vs. Inter Miami, ESPN+
7:30 p.m. – FC Cincinnati vs. Crew, ESPN+
7:30 p.m. – Union vs. Rapids, ESPN+
8 p.m. – Fire vs. CF Montreal, ESPN+
8:30 p.m. – Sporting KC vs. Earthquakes, ESPN+
9 p.m. – FC Dallas vs. RSL, ESPN+
10 p.m. – Whitecaps vs. Nashville SC, ESPN+
4 p.m. – Atlanta United vs. D.C. United, Univision, TUDN
7:30 p.m. – Orlando City vs. NYCFC, FS1, FOX Deportes
8 p.m. – Revolution vs. LA Galaxy, ESPN+