MLS Look Ahead: Week 2

MLS Look Ahead: Week 2

Major League Soccer

MLS Look Ahead: Week 2

Photo by Troy Wayrynen/USA Today Sports

The most talked about topic heading into Week 2 is the weather, and it will continue to be talked about all weekend as cold slams the Northeast. One match, the New England Revolution’s home opener against Orlando City, has already been postponed to September 2, and the games in Philadelphia, New York and Minnesota will be played in frigid conditions.

There are also a few high-quality matchups in the Western Conference that could serve as way too early playoff previews. Fresh off its win at StubHub Center, FC Dallas visits Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night in search of a second road win. The Galaxy will look to rebound at home in the weekend nightcap against the Portland Timbers, who racked up five goals against Minnesota United in Week 1, on Sunday night.

Perhaps the most interesting match, though, pits the two expansion sides against one another as Minnesota United takes on Atlanta United.

Here’s a look at each of the 10 games taking place across MLS this weekend.

Real Salt Lake at Chicago Fire (Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, MLS Live)

Both Real Salt Lake and the Chicago Fire enter Week 2’s clash at Toyota Park off draws, but one was more impressive than the other. The Fire came away from Columbus with a 1-1 draw to start a season they hope turns things around for good. After serving a one-game suspension carried over from his time in Liga MX, Juninho is ready to start alongside Dax McCarty in the improved midfield setup.

RSL enters Saturday with wins in its last three meetings with the Fire, but also with a nine-game winless run dating back to last season. Justen Glad is unlikely to play after coming back from U-20 World Cup qualifying with a knee injury while Chris Schuler will also miss out due to injury.

Colorado Rapids at New York Red Bulls (Saturday, 4 p.m., UniMas)

The New York Red Bulls haven’t defeated the Colorado Rapids since March 25, 2012. During the four-game winless spell, the Red Bulls have lost twice in Colorado and picked up two draws at home. Saturday’s contest in 30 degree weather will be a nice test for the work in progress central midfield of the Red Bulls. Goalkeeper Luis Robles will pass Chris Klein for most consecutive games started in MLS at 142 matches.

The Rapids enters Red Bull Arena with a hot scorer on its hands in Dominique Badji, who opened his 2017 account in the win over the Revolution in Week 1. Badji doesn’t receive a ton of love across the league for his output, but he’s been key for the Rapids during their recent turnaround under Pablo Mastroeni.

Toronto FC at Philadelphia Union (Saturday, 4:30 p.m., MLS Live)

The Union improved their roster in almost every position over the offseason, but two of their top spots of concern will be tested by the team that knocked them out of the playoffs a year ago. Oguchi Onyewu’s fitness and mobility will be tested by Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco, while the home side has to find a way to provide better service to the forwards.

Toronto FC picked up a road point in its opener against RSL, but the Reds failed to find the back of the net. Going without a goal in two consecutive games is a rarity for a team with the talent like TFC has. Look for the well-rounded attack to create plenty of chances at Talen Energy Stadium.

Seattle Sounders at Montreal Impact (Saturday, 7 p.m., MLS Live)

No more than two goals have been scored in the last four meetings between the Montreal Impact and Seattle Sounders, with all four matches seeing a clean sheet on one end. That seems odd given the firepower each club has had in its attack, and it’s a trend that could be altered on Saturday.

The Impact are coming off a loss to the San Jose Earthquakes, while the Sounders were upset on the road by the Houston Dynamo. The matchup to watch in this match, and potentially the best one all weekend, pits Laurent Ciman against Jordan Morris and Clint Dempsey. On the other end of the field, Ignacio Piatti will look to break down the defensive wall of Chad Marshall and Roman Torres.

Columbus Crew at Houston Dynamo (Saturday, 8:30 p.m., MLS Live)

Was Week 1’s win over Seattle a fluke or are the Dynamo actually for real in Wilmer Cabrera’s first year in charge?That is the question the Dynamo will be answering in the coming weeks, starting with Week 2’s home clash with the Columbus Crew. The same question about the Dynamo as a whole can be asked of Erick “Cubo” Torres, who is looking to regain the scoring form that made him a star at Chivas USA.

The Crew stumbled out of the gates with a home draw against the Fire. The good news for Gregg Berhalter’s side is Ethan Finlay and Justin Meram got off to a fast start by combining on the club’s lone goal. The two wingers will face a pair of the stingiest full backs in MLS in A.J. DeLaGarza and DaMarcus Beasley.

FC Dallas at Sporting Kansas City (Saturday, 9 p.m. ET, MLS Live)

An argument can be made that Saturday’s clash at Sporting Park is the best of the lot in Week 2.Sporting KC is looking to make a mark at home after playing to a scoreless draw at RFK Stadium with D.C. United a week ago. Look for Dom Dwyer’s showdown with Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman to be one of the most entertaining parts of the match.

FC Dallas is the team in MLS with a massive target on its back. Simply put, Oscar Pareja’s side is the team to beat in not only the West, but for the Supporters’ Shield. The club put the league on notice with its performance in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals and in Week 1’s win over the Galaxy.

Vancouver Whitecaps at San Jose Earthquakes (Saturday, 10 p.m. ET, MLS Live)

For lack of a better term, it appeared the Vancouver Whitecaps ran out of gas on Sunday at BC Place against the Union following their CONCACAF Champions League win over the Red Bulls. Now that they’ve had a full week to recover and prepare, the Whitecaps should challenge the Earthquakes back line with their aggressive play and speed.

The Qyakes needed to start the season strong, and they did, with a win over Montreal in which full back Nick Lima was the breakout star. Lima will have his hands full against Kekuta Manneh and Alphonso Davies on Saturday at Avaya Stadium.

D.C. United at New York City FC (Sunday, 2 p.m., MLS Live)

If the three matches in 2016 between D.C. and NYCFC are any indication of Sunday’s match, we should see plenty of goals. The Eastern Conference foes combined for 11 goals across three games a year ago, and we could see more on the small field at Yankee Stadium.

Luciano Acosta was sidelined in Week 1 with an ankle injury, and he could miss a second consecutive game, which may hamper D.C.’s ability to work through the middle of the park. The new faces in the NYCFC lineup are still getting used to playing alongside each other, which could lead to some rough patches, but the one constant is David Villa’s skill in front of goal.

Atlanta United at Minnesota United (Sunday, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Both expansion sides have something to prove in Week 2. Minnesota United put together a wretched showing in Portland on opening night. Adrian Heath needs to find a solution to the team’s full back issues. Luckily for the Loons, Jerome Thiesson is expected to be available for selection.

Atlanta United impressed for stretches of its home opener against the Red Bulls, but it conceded twice late in the second half to lose at home. The attack led by Miguel Almiron should have a field day against the Loons back line that is still being pieced together.

Portland Timbers at LA Galaxy (Sunday, 7 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1)

The Timbers caught everyone’s attention with its five-goal outburst led by Diego Valeri, but it also came against a hapless Minnesota defense. The Timbers should find some holes in the Galaxy back line with Dave Romney and Jermaine Jones suspended, but it will be a more difficult task to score against a Galaxy team trying to avoid two home losses to start the year.

The MLS Disciplinary Committee was not kind to the Galaxy this week. With Romney and Jones out serving suspensions, Curt Onalfo will have to make some tweaks to his lineup. He won’t have to do too much altering to his attack, and for the Galaxy to ultimately come out on top, Giovani dos Santos needs to put together a strong showing in the final third.

 

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