Photo by Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports
By RYAN TOLMICH
As one of the league’s fiercest rivalries, Sunday’s clash between D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls is sure to feature the tenacity and aggression that have come to define the series. However, Sunday’s edition should feature a little something extra with both teams jockeying for playoff position.
D.C. United enter the weekend sitting atop the Eastern Conference, despite a 4-1 midweek thrashing at the hands of the LA Galaxy. Meanwhile, the Red Bulls remain just one point ahead of the New England Revolution and Philadelphia Union for the conference’s final playoff spot.
Elsewhere in MLS, Sporting KC clashes with the Houston Dynamo, Toronto FC hosts the New England Revolution and Los Angeles divides as Chivas USA takes on the LA Galaxy.
Here’s a look at this weekend’s MLS slate:
SPORTING KC vs. HOUSTON DYNAMO (Friday, 8 p.m., NBCSN)
After relinquishing the conference’s top spot in a 3-0 loss to D.C. United last time out, Sporting KC will look to get back on the winning side of things in a meeting with the Houston Dynamo.
The two Eastern Conference sides have met 15 times since 2011, more than any other teams in MLS over that time period. Five of those clashes have come in the playoffs, where the teams have met each of the last three years. SKC will look to replicate the results of the teams’ last contest, which resulted in a 2-0 Sporting victory at BBVA Compass Stadium.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS vs. COLORADO RAPIDS (Saturday, 4 p.m., MLS Direct Kick)
Sitting two points atop the Western Conference, the Seattle Sounders will look to increase their lead when they take on a Colorado Rapids side in a desperate fight for playoff position.
The Rapids sit just three points out of fifth place, but upcoming games with the Sounders, LA Galaxy, Portland Timbers, and Real Salt Lake are sure to test the Rapids’ playoff resolve. If the Rapids are to have a chance at featuring in the postseason, they will need to successfully navigate that four game stretch, starting in Seattle on Saturday.
TORONTO FC vs. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (Saturday, 5 p.m., MLS Direct Kick)
The first game of the Jermaine Jones era is set to kick off on Saturday with a visit to Toronto FC.
Despite uncertainty over Jones’ role in the game, the New England Revolution enter the weekend with the confidence boost that comes with signing a U.S. Men’s National Team star. The Revs will need every bit of that boost as the club sits a single point out of a playoff position, while the opposition, Toronto FC, sits just three points ahead in third place.
MONTREAL IMPACT vs. COLUMBUS CREW (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., MLS Direct Kick)
On the heels of back-to-back victories, the Columbus Crew will look to push their winning streak to three when they take on the Eastern Conference’s last-place team.
The Crew are set to take on the Montreal Impact fresh off a combined 7-1 thrashing of the LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo. The pair of victories has pushed the Crew to fourth place, two points above the New York Red Bulls, who knocked off the Impact 4-2 in the Canadian side’s last outing.
CHICAGO FIRE vs. FC DALLAS (Saturday, 8:30 p.m., MLS Direct Kick)
The Chicago Fire play host to one of the hottest units in the league Saturday when they host Fabian Castillo and FC Dallas.
Castillo has registered a goal or assist in each of his last 11 games, as FC Dallas remain unbeaten since May 31. With just three points standing between FC Dallas and the top spot in the Supporters’ Shield race, Castillo and co. will have to replicate their attacking form this weekend when they take on the Fire, who registered a 2-2 draw with Toronto FC last time out.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS vs. PORTLAND TIMBERS (Saturday, 10:30 p.m., MLS Direct Kick)
Less than a week after dropping a 4-2 contest to the Seattle Sounders, the Portland Timbers will take on another Cascadia rival in the form of the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The Whitecaps six-game unbeaten streak came to a halt last week with a 2-0 loss at the hands of the LA Galaxy. With the two sides sitting just two points apart in the battle for fifth place, both sides will need to rebound to gain an edge heading into the home stretch.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES vs. REAL SALT LAKE ( Saturday, 10:30 p.m., MLS Direct Kick)
Fresh off a 2-1 victory over the Seattle Sounders on Aug. 16, Real Salt Lake came crashing back down to earth last weekend with a 2-1 loss to surging FC Dallas.
RSL now find themselves sitting fourth in the top-heavy Western Conference, just three points behind the league-leading Sounders. A matchup with the lowly San Jose Earthquakes appears to be the perfect bounce back game for RSL, as the hosts enter the weekend on a four game losing skid.
D.C. UNITED vs. NEW YORK RED BULLS (Sunday, 2:30 p.m., NBCSN)
D.C. United have faced their fair share of doubters all season long. After enduring one of the worst campaigns in MLS history last year, it was hard to imagine D.C. United as a legitimate contender.
However, Ben Olsen’s team took a step towards legitimacy on Saturday with a season-defining victory at Sporting KC. The Eastern Conference leaders suffered a letdown with a midweek loss to the LA Galaxy, and now face the challenge of stopping league-leader Bradley Wright-Phillips, who scored his 19th and 20th goals last time out to shatter the Red Bulls’ club record.
CHIVAS USA vs. LA GALAXY ( Sunday, 8:00 p.m., Univision Deportes)
Two different Los Angeles sides with two different season trajectories collide Sunday at the friendly confines of the StubHub Center.
Chivas USA play host to the LA Galaxy Sunday, as Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres and co. look to win their first game since July 12. Beating their city rivals will prove to be no easy task, as the Galaxy enter the weekend winners of three straight following an Aug. 16 loss to the Columbus Crew.
Which matches are you looking forward to? How do you see the weekend’s action unfolding?
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