MLS on FOX Preview with John Strong: Seattle Sounders FC vs. Atlanta United FC

It’s a matchup of two of the biggest teams in MLS Sunday afternoon (4:30pm ET) on FOX, as the Seattle Sounders play host to Atlanta United. Seattle have really made themselves into the Kings of American Soccer: they’ve played in four of the last five MLS Cups, winning two titles, and this year they’re off to the best start in club history, atop the league standings after a month of play. Star forward Raul Ruidiaz has five goals in the season’s first six games—second best in MLS—and already there are multiple Sounders putting together career-best performances. On top of that, they’ve made themselves practically unbeatable in Seattle since their expansion year of 2009.

Atlanta United came into the league as an expansion team in 2017, and broke many of the records—on and off the field—that had been set by Seattle eight years before. This year Atlanta are still adjusting to life under new coach Gabriel Heinze, but have former MLS MVP and record-breaking top scorer Josef Martinez back from his torn ACL a year ago, and he’s scored the last two times these teams have faced off. Difficult as it is to come away from Seattle with a win, if Martinez looks anything like the player who put up record numbers before his injury, Atlanta have as good a chance as any team of flying home victors.

Nashville SC vs Austin FC (Sunday, 9pm ET, FS1)

Our other MLS game on FOX Sports this weekend sees two of the newest teams in the league face off for the very first time: Nashville debuted last February in front of 60,000 fans, a record for any soccer game in the state of Tennessee, and have just been given clearance by local authorities for this game to have their biggest crowd since. It’s a tall challenge for this year’s newcomers, but Austin have impressed the entire league with their results and performances against some top opponents, even as they continue to play their first eight games away from home until their stadium is ready next month.

DC United vs Philadelphia Union (Sunday, 7pm ET)

Sunday’s other game pits an MLS original vs one of the league’s current powers. DC United were the original Kings of MLS, wining three of the first four titles when the league launched in 1996, and new coach Hernan Losada has brought a renewed energy and focus to try to get DC back to those dominant days. Philadelphia won last year’s Supporters Shield as regular season champions—the first trophy in team history—and led by Philly-born coach Jim Curtin, the Union are looking to get their 2021 campaign on track after focusing early on the CONCACAF Champions League, where they secured a first-ever spot in the semifinals this summer against Mexican powerhouse Club America.