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The MLS playoff race is heating up.
As Major League Soccer progresses toward its version of the midsummer break—the MLS All-Star Game against Atletico Madrid on July 31—the playoff picture is beginning to heat up.
In the West, LAFC appears poised to win the Supporters’ Shield race (for best regular-season record) running away, while crosstown rival LA Galaxy began July heading up the block of teams in the 2-7 slots who will play first-round matches. This would be the time of year, if recent years were an indication, that the Seattle Sounders would be making a run from the doldrums to the playoff ranks, but they’re already in third.
Meantime, in the East, there’s a logjam of teams vying for position. The Union is a bit of a surprise in the conference lead, while D.C. United and Atlanta United are struggling—surprising given the reigning MLS Cup holders’ slow start out of the gate. Proving that teams can sustain the occasional blowout if they stick to their plan, the Montreal Impact is in the thick of the playoff race despite heading into Week 19 with a -8 goal differential. (The New England Revolution, not far off the playoff mark starting July, was even worse on the goal differential front heading into Week 19 with a staggering -14.)
Here are the five MLS matches you won’t want to miss in July, and here’s what you need to know in order to live stream MLS.
5 MLS matches to live stream in July 2019
Friday, July 12 (7pm ET): New England Revolution at DC United, ESPN
The Revolution has attempted to course correct on 2019 with an in-season coaching change from Brad Freidel to … Bruce Arena, a former MLS Cup-winning coach with the first D.C. United teams and legendary LA Galaxy teams, but currently known in U.S. soccer fan circles as the coach who failed to get the U.S. men’s national team to the 2018 World Cup. They’ll take to the road, aiming to get into the playoff mix, against a D.C. United team that will be missing Luciano Acosta, who got a red card in a 2-0 loss at FC Dallas on July 4. The fireworks on the field in that match included Wayne Rooney, who initially earned a red card that was changed to a yellow after video review.
Sunday, July 14 (3:55pm ET): Atlanta United at Seattle Sounders FC, ESPN
Seattle’s CenturyLink Field is one of the best home atmospheres in all of MLS — rivaled, of late, by Atlanta United and its Mercedes-Benz Stadium cauldron of noise. At the season’s start, this match was circled on the calendars by fans as a potential MLS Cup preview. Then, Atlanta stumbled out of the gate with just one win in its first six starts, while the notoriously slow-starting Seattle tallied five wins and a draw in six matches. Since then, Seattle’s maintained a solid if not torrid pace, guided by midfield wizard Nicolas Lodeiro, while Atlanta’s gotten better under new manager Frank de Boer’s guidance.
Sunday, July 14 (6:30pm ET): NYCFC at New York Red Bulls, FS1
The New York derby—becoming one of the league’s most compelling rivalries despite its relative newness—will head to Harrison, New Jersey, with both teams in playoff position. The Red Bulls have been tested in the first part of July, rebounding from a 4-0 loss in Houston by getting a stoppage-time goal to draw against Atlanta … mere minutes after giving up what appeared to be a stoppage-time game-winner. NYCFC, meanwhile, saw its 12-game unbeaten streak come to an end against Portland after blanking Seattle 3-0 to start its July. Even with that loss, NYCFC has the fewest losses of any team in the league.
Friday, July 19 (10pm ET): LAFC at LA Galaxy, ESPN
The crosstown rivalry delightfully known as “El Trafico” typically is one of the most entertaining in the league, and both teams have been riding high atop the West standings of late. The Galaxy will get a bit of a boost with two players from the Gold Cup-winning Mexican national team, Jona dos Santos and Uriel Antuna, returning to action, while LAFC’s core has largely remained intact, including Carlos Vela, who opted not to represent El Tri in favor of keeping his and his team’s good thing going.
Friday, July 26 (10pm ET): Atlanta United at LAFC, ESPN
Expect the focus to be on the team’s principal goal scorers. Last year, Atlanta’s Josef Martinez smashed the single-season MLS goal-scoring record with 31 goals in just 34 matches and has kept nearly a goal-a-game pace in his three seasons with the Five Stripes. This year, LAFC’s Carlos Vela has raced out to the Golden Boot lead with 19 goals in 19 games, on pace to break a record that seemed like it would stand for longer than a single season.
2019 MLS live stream: Watch MLS matches online
MLS matches are broadcast on an array of networks, including ESPN (which carries Friday night and Sunday afternoon matches), FS1 (which carries Sunday afternoon matches), Univision Deportes and UniMas (carrying an assortment of matches with a SAP option for English-speaking viewers), and ESPN+ (carrying regional feeds for a national audience seeking Saturday soccer). No matter what service you decide to try, it offers a free one-week trial.
- Cost: $4.99 per month or $49.99 for 12 months
- Devices: Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku players and TV, Oculus Go, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Samsung smart TVs, and iOS and Android devices
ESPN+ is a subscription service that extends ESPN’s existing website and app, and it’s essential for soccer fans, in particular, carrying all MLS matches not on ESPN or FS1, as well as Serie A+, USL, Copa America, and FA Cup matches. It encompasses other sporting events as well, including 20 exclusive UFC Fight Night events per year, 180 NHL games, at least one MLB game a day for every day of the season, and a cornucopia of college sports.
ESPN+ also features the network’s sports talk programming, and it features original series starting with the entire 30 for 30 catalog ESPN made its name on. It also unlocks more content and fewer ads on the ESPN site.
2) Sling TV
- Sling TV pricing: $25-$40 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
- Sling TV devices: Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, Xbox One, Google Chromecast, Oculus Go, Microsoft Edge, and iOS and Android devices
- Sling TV local channels: NBC, Fox (check your local availability here)
Sling TV provides two base channel package options, each priced at $25 per month. Sling Orange includes three ESPN channels, while Sling Blue includes sports channels like NFL Network, FS1 and FS2, NBCSN, and local channels. If you’re Team “Why Not Both,” Sling Orange + Blue combines the two for just $40 per month. To add beIN SPORTS and maximize your soccer-watching potential, you’ll want to add either Sports Extra: Sling Orange ($5 per month) or Sports Extra: Sling Blue ($10 per month). (The latter also includes NFL RedZone.)
Spanish-speaking viewers have quite a few options. For bilingual families, you might consider the Español: Best of Spanish TV package for either Sling Orange or Sling Blue for 24/7 specialty channel LaLiga TV and beIN SPORTS Connect: Channels 4-9, which features matches from LaLiga, Ligue 1, and Copa del Rey, among others. Both packages cost $5 per month after your free trial. Sling TV Latino is another Spanish-language package for $10 per month, including NBC Universo, History en Español, and—of import to soccer fans—four beIN SPORTS channels. (And choosing Sling TV Latino + Sling Orange for $30 per month gives you access to ESPN Deportes.) For more information, check out our guide to Sling TV channels and our Sling TV review.
- Cost: $44.99 for the first month, $54.99 per month thereafter (after a 7-day free trial)
- FuboTV devices: Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Android TV, iOS and Android devices
- FuboTV local channels: Fox, NBC, CBS (check local availability here)
FuboTV is a solid TV streaming service option, whether your tastes run to entertainment (AMC, Syfy, FX), news (MSNBC, CNN), or sports (NBA TV, NFL Network). If you’re a soccer fan, however, it will appear tailor-made for you, with FS1 for MLS action, 10 beIN SPORTS channels, NBCSN, FS2, UniMás, Champions League action via TNT, and Copa America action via Telemundo and Universo all on tap. If you can’t watch a match live, FuboTV offers a three-day replay for each match and 30 hours of cloud DVR. (Check out the complete FuboTV channels list.)
FuboTV also has bilingual families in mind; each subscription comes with UniMás, Galavisión, NBC Universo, beIN SPORTS, Univision, and Fox Deportes. An extra $7.99 per month will bring you Latino Plus, which includes CNN en Español and TyC Sports among its offerings.
- Cost: $44.99-$79.99 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
- PlayStation Vue devices: PlayStation 3 and 4, Roku, Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Google Chromecast, Kodi, iOS and Android devices
- PlayStation Vue local channels: NBC, Fox, ABC, CBS (enter your ZIP code here to check your availability)
PlayStation Vue is a fantastic option for soccer fans who already own a PlayStation console, but this streaming platform is available on a variety of devices. ESPN and FS1, where you’ll find MLS matches, are part of the Core package of channels, which offers soccer and other sports programming, and the options increase at the Elite and Ultra levels.
- Cost: $44.99 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
- Hulu devices: Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch, and iOS and Android devices
- Hulu local channels: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, the CW (check your local availability here)
Hulu with Live TV includes sports programming among its offerings, including MLS matches on ESPN and FS1, and as a subscriber to the service, you’ll get free access to Hulu’s sizable on-demand library. (Check out the full list of Hulu Live TV channels.)
6) YouTube TV
- Cost: $50 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
- YouTube TV devices: Google Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV, Android TV, Xbox One, iOS and Android devices
- YouTube TV local channels: NBC, CBS, Fox, ABC, the CW (enter your ZIP code here to check your availability)
YouTube TV is a great option for soccer fans, including ESPN and FS1 and broadcasting partnerships with three MLS teams for MLS matches, TNT for Champions League matches and NBCSN for Premier League matches. (Take a look at the full list of YouTube TV channels here.)
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Phil West is a sports reporter and the author of two books on soccer, ‘The United States of Soccer,’ and ‘I Believe That We Will Win,’ both from The Overlook Press. His work has appeared most recently in MLSSoccer.com, Pro Soccer USA, Texas Highways, and Howler. Based in Austin, he is also a lecturer in the Writing Program at the University of Texas at San Antonio.