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Saturday's MLS preview: Exciting affair expected in Ohio

With all the buzz surrounding Lionel Messi's impending transfer to Inter Miami, Major League Soccer has received plenty of attention and the league continues with more key matches this weekend.

It is starting to become clearer which clubs are in contention for the playoffs later this season with FC Cincinnati having taken the initiative at the overall summit and Los Angeles FC still the team to beat in the Western Conference.

With most teams now past the halfway point in the regular season, here is a look at some of the most important MLS fixtures taking place this weekend.

Expect goals at Lower.com Field

WhatColumbus Crew v Nashville SC
WhereLower.com Field, Columbus, Ohio
When19:30, Saturday June 24th, 2023
How to watchMLS Season Pass
OddsColumbus Crew -100, Draw +260, Nashville +275

FC Cincinnati are leading the way in the Eastern Conference this year but both Columbus Crew and Nashville are part of the chasing pack and they could put on a show in their clash at Lower.com Field.

The Crew have won three of their last four games but their most recent defeat was against Nashville, who have lost only four MLS matches in 2023.

It is tough to back a result in this one and the goals angle could instead be the way to go with both teams having scored in 13 of Columbus Crew's 18 matches in MLS this year.

Spearheaded by the division's leading scorer Hany Mukhtar (13 goals in MLS this season), Nashville have also seen 14 goals in their last five fixtures.

Both teams to score is the bet at -143.

Cincy show no signs of slowing down

WhatDC United v FC Cincinnati
WhereAudi Field, Washington D.C.
When19:30, Saturday June 24th, 2023
How to watchMLS Season Pass
OddsDC United +115, Draw +260, FC Cincinnati +220

With their 3-0 win over Toronto this week, FC Cincinnati became the first MLS club since 2002 to start a season with wins in their first 10 home matches and they look a tough nut to crack.

This weekend they are away from the TQL Stadium but their away record has also been pretty strong with only Real Salt Lake (17) and Orlando City (14) having collected more points on the road than Cincy (13) in MLS this term.

At +220, Cincy are a great bet to win again when they visit DC United, who have lost their last two games against Atlanta and Real Salt Lake.

The hosts will also be without suspended defender Steve Birnbaum and should be opposed.

Struggling Red Bulls in for another tough weekend

WhatNew York Red Bulls v Atlanta United
WhereRed Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey
When19:30, Saturday June 24th, 2023
How to watchMLS Season Pass
OddsNew York Red Bulls -105, Draw +260, Atlanta United +280

It is looking like a pretty forgettable season for New York Red Bulls, who are languishing in the lower echelons of the MLS Eastern Conference.

The Big Apple outfit have won only four of their 18 league fixtures in 2023 and their most recent home contest ended in a 3-0 defeat to Orlando City.

Going forward they have struggled with only 13 goals in 18 matches and they could come unstuck against playoff-chasing Atlanta United.

Atlanta were without two key players in their draw with New York City last time out with Giorgos Giakoumakis suspended through yellow card accumulation and Thiago Almada on international duty.

However, they should at least have striker Giakoumakis back on this occasion and they can extend their seven-match unbeaten run in MLS with a win over the Red Bulls.

Houston Dynamo can edge Texas rivals

WhatAustin FC v Houston Dynamo
WhereQ2 Stadium, North Austin, Texas
When20:30, Saturday June 24th, 2023
How to watchMLS Season Pass
OddsAustin FC -100, Draw +280, Houston Dynamo +240

Houston Dynamo started June on the back foot with a 6-2 hammering by Vancouver Whitecaps and a 3-0 loss to expansion side St Louis City but they have since bounced back with four wins on the spin in all competitions.

That run began with a 4-1 undoing of Chicago Fire in the US Open Cup, sending them through to the semi-finals, before back-to-back wins over MLS Cup holders Los Angeles FC and a 4-1 hammering of improving San Jose Earthquakes.

They have their sights set on a Western Conference playoff berth and look a value bet to edge Texas rivals Austin.

Austin eased to a 3-0 win over fellow state rivals FC Dallas last time out but had lost four of their five matches beforehand, including a 2-1 loss to Houston only last month.

Back Dynamo to come out on top at +220.

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