MLS Matchday 28 Preview: Messi heads to New York and more!


A week on from the end of Leagues Cup 2023, we’ve got a full slate of matches in Major League Soccer this weekend, highlighted by a potential MLS debut for Lionel Messi as his Inter Miami CF side head north to take on New York Red Bulls. Here’s our look at some of the key matches taking place over the weekend:

New York Red Bulls vs. Inter Miami CF

There’s plenty of anticipation for Lionel Messi’s potential MLS debut – he and Leagues Cup champions  Inter Miami were taken to extra time in the U.S. Open Cup in the week against FC Cincinnati, and the Argentine was key in helping his side bring the match level, setting up Leonardo Campana with a fine pair of assists. Now he’ll be tasked with helping his side climb the table in the Eastern Conference – they remain well below the playoff places with this match on the road.

Atlanta United vs. Nashville SC

Beaten Leagues Cup finalists Nashville SC and league-leading scorer Hany Mukhtar are in a far better position in the league, just two points behind third place Philadelphia Union. They are also level on points with tonight’s opponent, Atlanta United, who are led by the dangerous pairing of Thiago Almada (eight goals, ten assists) and Giorgos Giakoumakis (twelve goals), making this match a key one in the battle for playoff positions.

Real Salt Lake vs. Houston Dynamo FC

A rematch of the other US Open Cup final, the hosts, currently third in the Western Conference, will want revenge after to falling to Houston in extra time on Wednesday, 3-1. They’re currently on a nine-match unbeaten run in the league, and have been buoyed by the arrival of Chicho Arango, who has made a massive impact since joining earlier this summer.  

Portland Timbers vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC

There’s no love lost between these two Cascadia Cup rivals, each of whom had relatively disappointing showings in Leagues Cup 2023. Portland are currently outside the playoff places, and have struggled for goals this season. Vancouver are better-positioned, occupying one of the play-in places, but in a tightly-packed Western Conference, will want every assurance of being able to push up the table with a win over a rival.