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MLS: Nashville, New York City and Kansas face defining week

The MLS is never short on entertainment, and there’s usually a glut of goals. In particular, Dallas’ 5-3 away victory over Austin stood out, as it raised Dallas’ chance of reaching the end-of-season play-offs. This week, we will look ahead to two big fixtures in the Eastern and Western Conferences — Nashville v New York City FC, and Los Angeles FC v Sporting Kansas.

Nashville beginning to look more comfortable on the road

While Nashville have looked formidable at home this term, this has been in stark contrast to their away form. Nevertheless, the camp will feel buoyed by their 2-0 away victory over Atlanta last weekend. Daniel Rios and Randall Leal grabbed the goals to leave Nashville in third spot in the Eastern Conference with 35 points to their name.

Having Rios back was a welcome boost for Nashville. After making his first start since November 2020, Rios, who missed the last three games through injury, also scored his first goal in nearly a year. Furthermore, Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis was rock solid once again between the posts as he registered his ninth clean sheet of the campaign.

Nashville setting new records in win over Atlanta

While Willis and Rios will rightfully lap up the plaudits that come their way, there were some other excellent individual performances that merit attention. In particular, Hany Mukhar notched up his 12th assist in his MLS career, the most of any player in Nashville’s history. Also, Nashville has recorded the fewest defeats across the MLS this season with just two losses.

New York City FC right on Nashville’s coattails after New England victory

New York City FC will have the wind in their sails going into their Friday evening clash with Nashville. A 2-0 victory over the New England Revolution ended the Revs’ nine-game unbeaten run. New York City FC did well to stifle their opponents, and they controlled the tempo of the game before collecting all three points.

Valentin Castellanos becoming a huge asset for New York City FC

New York City FC are firmly in the mix in the upper echelons of the Eastern Conference. And that is partly thanks to the brilliance of Valentin Castellanos. He has been in red-hot form this season, and his double against the Revs took his tally to double figures for the season, one shy of his career-best showing in 2019.

Los Angeles FC still on the outside looking in

For Los Angeles FC, they have been in free-fall the past few weeks. They have failed to win any of their past eight MLS games. Although their 3-3 draw with LA Galaxy last weekend halted a four-game losing run, LAFC are still very much on the outside looking in.

Los Angeles FC have only won six of their 24 games to date this season, and they are three points adrift of Salt Lake, who are currently in the play-offs. It had seemed like LAFC would grab a vital victory against LA Galaxy, but they were denied by a late equaliser from Kevin Cabral.

Although Sporting will be without Daniel Salloi and Gadi Kinda for the clash with LAFC due to World Cup qualifying duties, Sporting are in great shape right now. They are just two points adrift of Western Conference table-toppers Seattle Sounders, and Peter Vermes has made Kansas tough to break down.

Los Angeles FC v Sporting Kansas: a tale of past encounters

The head-to-head record is always a good gauge of how things could pan out. And Kansas have had the upper hand. In six previous meetings, Kansas have come out on top four times, while LA FC have managed just two wins. In their most recent meeting in August, Kansas cantered to a 4-1 victory. Alan Pulido, Luis Martins, Salloi and Kinda were all on target.

Although Daniel Musovski pulled back a goal for the hosts, it proved to be a mere consolation. And LA FC will have to try to find a way past Illie Sanchez. The defender completed just shy of 90% of his passes, made 10 recoveries and three tackles in his side’s 1-1 draw last weekend against the Colorado Rapids.

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