While most of the world's domestic leagues have stopped for a break during the international break, MLS will continue to play entering matchday five. Depth will be tested as some of the top teams will be without regulars due to Concacaf Nations League, UEFA Euro, and AFCON qualifying all going on while the United States U-20's are also in action too. Not all teams let their players go such as Atlanta United keeping Caleb Wiley from international duty
Here's a look at this weekend's MLS schedule and storylines:
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Saturday, Mar. 25
All times Eastern and all games are available on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV
- Portland Timbers vs. Los Angeles Galaxy, 4:30 p.m. (fuboTV -- try for free)
- Charlotte FC vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.
- Columbus Crew vs. Atlanta United, 7:30 p.m.
- DC United vs. New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m.
- Inter Miami vs. Chicago Fire, 7:30 p.m.
- Philadelphia Union vs. Orlando City SC, 7:30 p.m.
- Austin FC vs. Colorado Rapids, 8:30 p.m.
- Houston Dynamo vs. New York City FC, 8:30 p.m.
- Sporting Kansas City vs. Seattle Sounders, 8:30 p.m.
- Minnesota United vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, 8:30 p.m.
- Nashville SC vs. FC Cincinnati, 8:30 p.m.
- Real Salt Lake vs. St. Louis City FC, 10:30 p.m.
- Los Angeles FC vs. FC Dallas, 11:30 p.m.
- San Jose Earthquakes vs. Toronto FC, 11:30 p.m.
Can Caleb Wiley lead Atlanta United?
The five stripes are off to a good start to the season powered by Thiago Almada but with him busy off on international duty with Argentina recruiting Lionel Messi to MLS, other players will have to step up if Atlanta are to retain their early lead atop the Eastern Conference. Atlanta are the joint top scorers in all of MLS so far and they have another young phenom who they can thank for that. The 18-year-old Caleb Wiley was held out of U-20 camp during this window because Atlanta need him to provide the attacking spark that they lose without Almada. Wiley has shown that he can do it so far with three goals and two assists during the season, and a strong performance without Almada can show that the team is in good hands even if Almada were to leave during the summer.
With a tough away trip to face the Crew, it'll be a good test for the team while new striker Giorgos Giakoumakis and Almada are away on international duty. They will also put pressure on Luiz Araujo to continue his turnaround after a disappointing start to life with the club.
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Another week, another St. Louis victory?
The team came into the season with intrigue due to an unconventional roster build, but so far so good with four wins from their first four matches in the league. Led by Joao Klauss' three goals, the team has been able to bypass all challenges in their path but it also feels like they're walking a tightrope that could shift any moment now. It probably won't be this week as Toronto FC still have defensive and depth issues but teams won't continue to pass St. Louis the ball all season. With the new playoff system, a hot five-game stretch may be enough to ensure that the team starts their inaugural season with a playoff berth which would exceed expectations.
Can a strong defense turn into results for the Red Bulls?
So far, the New York Red Bulls have only allowed six shots on target, but that has led to three goals allowed and only one victory in their four games played so far. On the bright side, that lone victory came last week over the Columbus Crew with new striker Dante Vanzeir finding the back of the net. The defense has never been a concern for the team, and even with Aaron Long gone this season, it doesn't seem like it will become one but they have to score goals with consistency. With Union Saint-Gilloise in Belgium, Vanzeir was able to do that and if he can continue to score in MLS, the Red Bulls will quickly become MLS Cup contenders but if not, they'll struggle to even make the playoffs despite having one of the best defenses in the league.