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Five MLS games to watch on opening weekend

Inter Miami got the new MLS season up and running on Wednesday night with a 2-0 victory over Real Salt Lake. There are another 14 games this weekend, including a busy Saturday night and a Sunday triple-header.

With so many games to keep across, below is a list of the five standout clashes you should mark in your calendar.

Defending champions look for a fast start

Match

Columbus Crew vs. Atlanta United

Where

Lower.com Field, Columbus, OH

When

2:00 PM ET, Saturday, February 24

How to watch

Apple TV

Odds

Columbus Crew -163, Draw +300, Atlanta United +400

Columbus Crew kick off Saturday's action as the defending MLS Cup champions looking to defend their title. They've largely decided to run it back, adding only Derrick Jones from Charlotte FC and Marino Hinestroza from Pachuca. 

After the impact coach Wilfried Nancy has had on The Crew - winning the title in his first season with a side which finished midtable the season before - it's hard to blame them for keeping changes to the minimum. 

The Crew's title hopes will get an early test in Saturday's clash with Atlanta United. The Five Stripes aren't frontrunners for glory this term, but they are +2500 ninth-favorites. After a sixth-place finish in the Eastern Conference last season, there's plenty for Atlanta to build upon this term, making this an exciting opener to the weekend.

Read more: 2024 Major League Soccer odds

How will new-look LAFC fare?

Match

Los Angeles FC vs. Seattle Sounders

Where

BMO Stadium, Los Angeles, CA

When

4:45 PM ET, Saturday, February 24

How to watch

Apple TV

Odds

LAFC -143, Draw +280, Seattle Sounders +375

LAFC are +300 favorites to win the Western Conference after making the last two MLS Cup finals, but they return with a new-look team for 2024. They’ve refocused their attack around last season’s top scorer Denis Bouanga, brought Eduard Atuesta back to the club and signed World Cup-winning goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

Their opening game pits together the two favorites to win the West, with Seattle Sounders priced at +500 to take the conference.

The Sounders look like serious contenders after adding more defensive depth to one of the best backlines in all of MLS last season. They’ve improved since finishing second in the West last season, reaching the Conference Semifinals in the postseason.

Tricky opener for the Union?

Match

Philadelphia Union vs. Chicago Fire

Where

Subaru Park, Chester, PA

When

7:30 PM ET, Saturday, February 24

How to watch

Apple TV

Odds

Philadelphia Union -163, Draw +300, Chicago Fire +400

The Philadelphia Union are +700 to win the Eastern Conference, having made the MLS Cup Final in 2022. They’re expected to have a strong campaign, but they have a potentially tricky opener on their hands.

Chicago Fire are +6600 to win the East, but they’ve made moves in the offseason. The Fire added Kellyn Acosta from LAFC to beef up their midfield, while the capture of Hugo Cuypers from Belgian side Gent could be huge. 

At 27 years old, Cuypers arrives in MLS just as he enters his prime. He’s scored 93 goals across 192 career appearances, while he scored 45 times in 69 games across the last two seasons for Gent. He could make waves stateside - especially at +5000 to finish as top scorer - making this clash among the standout games of the weekend.

Can Cinncinati contend again?

Match

FC Cincinnati vs. Toronto FC

Where

TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, OH

When

2:30 PM EST, Sunday, February 25

How to watch

Apple TV

Odds

FC Cincinnati -250, Draw +350, Toronto FC +700

Cincinnati won the Supporters’ Shield last season, but they were eliminated in the playoffs by local rivals Columbus Crew. That defeat will likely be on their minds as they open the campaign against Toronto FC on Sunday.

Cincy also lost a few key players in the offseason including striker Brandon Vazquez and center back Yerson Mosquera, but they brought in experienced MLS stalwarts in Corey Baird and Miles Robinson to replace those players.

Toronto are an interesting side. They’ve got talent, but last season was dire as they finished at the bottom of MLS. New manager John Herdman has proven adept at turning things around in international football with the Canadian National Team, and he’s looking to do the same with Toronto FC.

While Cincinnati is an unsurprising favorite in a clash between the top and bottom side in the 2023 campaign, it will be interesting to see how these two start the season.

Read more: MLS Top Goalscorer odds

Messi’s Miami aim to continue perfect start

Match

LA Galaxy vs. Inter Miami

Where

Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, CA

When

8:30 PM EST, Sunday, February 25

How to watch

Apple TV

Odds

LA Galaxy +150, Draw +280, Inter Miami +150

Having already featured on Thursday night, Inter Miami are quickly back in action in Sunday’s visit to LA Galaxy. The Galaxy finished third-bottom of the Western Conference last term, but they’ve made some changes and head into this campaign +700 to win the Conference. 

Inter Miami are the +275 favorite for the MLS Cup after a 2-0 opening win that saw neither Lionel Messi nor Luis Suarez score, although they both assisted goals. The two favorites for the Golden Boot will hope for a better showing on Sunday while Inter Miami will look to lay down a marker on Sunday by continuing their perfect start.

Odds mentioned in this article were correct at the time of writing and are subject to change.

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