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    What to watch for Saturday: California Clasico, Hell is Real highlight busy slate

    This Saturday sees nine MLS matches on the schedule, the most during the 2020 regular season since March 7, with several high-profile rivalry clashes included on the itinerary.

    Here’s your cheat sheet on what’s at stake as games get back underway:

    Atlanta United vs. Orlando City

    3:30 pm ET | Univision; MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada (local TV)

    Orlando have never won a competitive match against Atlanta (0-7-2 across all competitions). But they’ve rarely faced their rivals riding this much momentum. 

    The Lions are still confident after their trip to the MLS is Back Tournament Final presented by Wells Fargo, and they recovered in the league with a 3-1 win Wednesday against Nashville SC (highlights above). Atlanta are coming off a win against Nashville of their own, a 2-0 result in what was interim head coach Stephen Glass’ first match at the helm. Something’s gotta give, right?

    Philadelphia Union vs. D.C. United 

    7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US; MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada (local TV)

    For D.C. United and head coach Ben Olsen, this might already feel like must-win territory psychologically, even if it’s early days mathematically. The Black-and-Red haven’t scored from the run of play in three matches, although forward Ola Kamara (penalty kick) tallied his first of the year midweek. 

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    It won’t get any easier against the Union, who have posted consecutive shutouts since the Phase 1 restart got underway. Andre Blake is one of the league’s top goalkeepers, and Homegrown midfielder Brenden Aaronson is a must-watch each week.

    FC Cincinnati vs. Columbus Crew SC

    7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US; MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada (local TV)

    These Hell is Real rivals met in their MLS is Back Tournament opener back on July 11, and Columbus cruised to a 4-0 drubbing of Cincinnati. That marked a turning point of sorts for FC Cincy, as new head coach Jaap Stam opted for a more pragmatic approach following the defeat.

    Cincy have a chance to avenge their poor performance, while Columbus are coming off their first league loss in 2020. The Crew hold a 2-0-1 edge in MLS competitions.

    NYCFC vs. Chicago Fire FC

    7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US; MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada (local TV)

    Six of NYCFC‘s seven league matches in 2020 under first-year coach Ronny Deila have been decided by a 1-0 scoreline. They’re 2-4 in those meetings, but are coming off a Hudson River Derby victory against the New York Red Bulls. 

    Meanwhile, Chicago are navigating their comprehensive rebrand amid a pandemic. There have been impressive results and bouts of inconsistency, but their latest game was the former, a dominant 3-0 win over Cincy on Tuesday in their long-awaited Soldier Field return. 

    New England Revolution vs. New York Red Bulls

    8 pm ET | FS1; MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada (local TV)

    Revolution head coach/sporting director Bruce Arena remains suspended, but they’re coming off an impressive 2-1 win at D.C. earlier this week. Gustavo Bou got back in the goalscorer’s column, and a confident Argentine striker poses danger to any side.

    The Red Bulls are healthier, but have scored only once in their last four league matches. Newly-acquired forward Samuel Tetteh should help eventually, but as of earlier this week he was still in quarantine following his arrival from Europe.

    FC Dallas vs. Minnesota United

    8:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US; MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada (local TV)

    Life without Reggie Cannon could begin as early as Saturday for FC Dallas, as MLSsoccer.com’s Tom Bogert reported they have a deal in place for a transfer to Portuguese first division side Boavista. If he’s unavailable, fans of excellent outside backs can take solace in watching Minnesota‘s Romain Metanire and Chase Gasper.

    Colorado Rapids vs. Sporting Kansas City

    9 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US; MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada (local TV)

    Depending on how you look at it, it’s been five months or four games since the Rapids last got a victory, after starting 2020 so brightly with back-to-back wins. They can probably forget about sneaking up on Sporting, however, since Peter Vermes’ group got embarrassed in a 5-2 home loss to Houston on Tuesday night. 

    LA Galaxy vs. San Jose Earthquakes

    10:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US; MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada (local TV)

    It’s been over a year since the last California Clasico match, when the Quakes earned a 3-1 victory against the Galaxy (highlights above). The Galaxy’s star striker is now Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez (though he’s still questionable with a calf strain), and forward Cristian Pavon has emerged as arguably their most important player.

    The Quakes remain incredibly difficult to play against, and should be well-rested after their run to the MLS is Back Tournament semifinals. It’ll also be their first game without midfielder Magnus Eriksson, who has rejoined Djurgardens IF in Sweden. 

    Portland Timbers vs. Real Salt Lake

    10:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US; MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada (local TV)

    Two games ago, the Timbers were the reigning MLS is Back Tournament champions. Come Saturday, they may be a bit of a wounded animal after a 3-0 home defeat to their historic rival Seattle last weekend. Meanwhile, it’s hard to know what impact the evolving situation regarding Dell Loy Hansen will have on Real Salt Lake. He’s since taken a leave of absence amid investigations from MLS and the NWSL. 

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