MLS Week 11: A Look Ahead

MLS Week 11: A Look Ahead

Major League Soccer

MLS Week 11: A Look Ahead

Photo by Mike DiNovo/USA Today Sports

There’s plenty of juicy Major League Soccer matches to satisfy your palette this weekend, with high-profile clashes littered across Saturday and Sunday.

Bastian Schweinsteiger takes the national stage on Saturday night at home against the Seattle Sounders and Sunday’s triple-header features some of the best national TV matchups of the year to date, with New York City FC’s trip to FC Dallas concluding the weekend.

There’s also a hidden gem on the schedule in Orlando and plenty of other storylines worth keeping your eyes on.

Here’s a look at the full slate of MLS matches this weekend:

Vancouver Whitecaps at Houston Dynamo (Friday, 9 p.m. ET, TSN1)

For the second consecutive week, the Vancouver Whitecaps hit the road for a Friday night contest. Here’s hoping this week’s match at BBVA Compass Stadium is easier on the eyes than the Whitecaps’ 1-0 win over the Rapids a week ago. Brek Shea stole three points for the Whitecaps last week, but the task will be harder against Houston on Friday night.

The Dynamo’s star-studded attack will once again be on display, but there’s one player we need to talk more about. Midfielder Alex has quietly put together a strong season in the middle of the park, but he’s been overlooked due to the flashy playmakers up top. Look for Alex to be a difference maker against Matias Laba.

Minnesota United at Toronto FC (Saturday, 3 p.m. ET, CTV, MLS Live)

On paper, this seems like a runaway victory for Toronto FC, one that will extend their winning streak to six games. But remember this is MLS where the unpredictable is the norm. Minnesota is riding a decent run of form, and it’s attack is heating up with Christian Ramirez leading the charge.

Toronto FC is coming off its second straight midweek game, and with squad rotation expected once again, there’s a chance the Reds could be caught off guard by the Loons. But the reality of that happening is slim if you’ve watched Greg Vanney’s men play recently. The Reds are as confident as any team in the league and they are starting to create separation between themselves and the rest of the contenders in the Eastern Conference.

San Jose Earthquakes at Colorado Rapids (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, UniMas, Facebook Live)

The Quakes enter Dick’s Sporting Goods Park looking for its first three-game winning streak since August 2015, and there’s a good chance it’ll hit that mark given the way the Rapids have played. The Quakes could very well head into Commerce City and snag a win, especially with the way Florian Jungwirth is playing at the back. The offseason addition has been one of the top newcomers in MLS through the first quarter of the season.

There’s so much wrong with the Rapids right now that we could list the problems in an article as long as this preview. The Rapids seem to have nothing going in their favor and they are devoid of ideas in attack. Starting Alan Gordon at forward is not a sustainable strategy at his age and the Rapids have failed to replace the impact of Sam Cronin. Those are two of the major factors affecting them right now, but there’s a litany of issue Pablo Mastroeni has try to fix.

Columbus Crew at Montreal Impact (Saturday, 5 p.m. ET, TVA Sport, MLS Live)

Columbus and Montreal meet for the first time this season almost a year to date of their 4-4 draw in 2016. The match was infamous because it led to Kei Kamara’s departure following a dispute over a penalty kick with Federico Higuain. The Crew’s other Kamara, Ola, has found the back of the net on six occasions this season, with Justin Meram and Higuain close behind him with four. The Crew are also looking to rebound from a midweek loss to Toronto.

Montreal has been a little hard to figure out in 2017. The Impact showed plenty of fight to come back from three goals in Philadelphia and they won in D.C. a week ago, but they only have one home win. Achieving a second home win might be a hard task with Matteo Mancosu and Anthony Jackson-Hamel dealing with injuries. That would leave the scoring pressure on Dominic Oduro and Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla.

Philadelphia Union at D.C. United (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, MLS Live)

The Union finally looked like a functional soccer team a week ago, as C.J. Sapong netted his first-career hat-trick in a 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls, but now the Union have to capitalize on the momentum gained from that win to climb back into the Eastern Conference picture. The makeshift back line the Union have thrown the last two weeks has recorded a pair of clean sheets. A third in a row in D.C. would be a major accomplishment.

D.C. had a typical letdown game a week ago at RFK Stadium against Montreal. The Black and Red beat Atlanta United on the road and then failed to score against the inconsistent Impact. Patrick Mullins should be back in the starting lineup to provide a boost to an attack that hasn’t flourished consistently yet in 2017.

Sporting Kansas City at Orlando City (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, MLS Live)

Two of the best teams in MLS so far this season square off in marquee match of Saturday’s schedule. Dom Dwyer, who has pocketed five goals in 2017, returns to Orlando to face his former club, looking to make a statement on the road for the second-place team in the Western Conference. The battle to watch will be Ike Opara going up against Cyle Larin.

Speaking of Larin, he enters Saturday with six tallies and he’s going to have to work hard for No. 7 against a Sporting KC back line that has only let in five goals this season, two of which came last week at the hands of Minnesota. The Lions aren’t in must-win mode, but three more points at home would help them keep pace with surging Toronto.

Real Salt Lake at New England Revolution (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live)

Real Salt Lake can look at their Saturday opponent as an image of what their collection of young talent could be in a few years. RSL is building from inside and it is still a year or two from being a contender again, but there are signs of promise. With some of the youngsters off preparing for the U20 World Cup, the onus will be on new signing Jefferson Savarino, Albert Rusnak and Joao Plata to create chances for Yura Movsisyan.

New England hasn’t hit its stride yet in 2017, but that’s fine for a team that usually peaks at the end of summer. The Revs should be at full strength for Saturday’s contest at Gillette Stadium, and in all honesty, they should come away with three points, but they’ve already dropped four points at home this season.

Seattle Sounders at Chicago Fire (Saturday, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

It’s rare that you see the Seattle Sounders play the role of spoiler, but that’s exactly what they’ll try to do against the Schweinsteiger-led Fire on a national stage. Winning on the road would also boost the spirits of the club that has won once in the last six games and dropped a disappointing result at home to Toronto a week ago.

All eyes will be on the German World Cup winner in the Chicago midfield, it’s the reason why ESPN2 picked up the Saturday night match against the defending MLS Cup champion. The Fire haven’t won in their last three matches and the only thing keeping them above the red line is a 3-0-1 home record, a mark they hope improves by the end of Saturday night.

Atlanta United at Portland Timbers (Sunday, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN)

If you like flashy attackers and a multitude of goals, Sunday’s matchup at Providence Park is for you. The road warriors of Atlanta United are attempting to bounce back from a defeat to NYCFC, but playing on the road has started to take its toll on the expansion side, who has a backloaded schedule of home contests. Portland has conceded 15 goals in 2017, so if Atlanta can maneuver past David Guzman and Diego Chara, it stands a chance to earn a road result.

Portland needs to rebound from a 3-0 drubbing in San Jose a week ago. With Darlington Nagbe and Diego Valeri still questionable with injuries, the supporting cast in attack will have to rally around Fanendo Adi and reverse their fortunes from a week ago. The biggest goal in defense for the Timbers will be for Guzman and Chara to rough up Atlanta’s playmakers early and often.

LA Galaxy at New York Red Bulls (Sunday, 6 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1)

The rivalry formerly known as the One Percent derby takes its yearly turn on the national stage at Red Bull Arena on Sunday night. The young Galaxy are struggling and with a plethora of points dropped on home soil, they need to find a way to scrap for points on the road. It’ll be hard tough against a Red Bulls team hungry to rebound from a loss to the Union.

The Red Bulls just had a bad week in Philly and nothing else. Jesse Marsch’s side should recover from the defeat with a strong performance at home, which does not bode well for the Galaxy. At 4-0-1 inside their home ground, the Red Bulls are hard to break down and that should be the case on Sunday night. Look for Sacha Kljestan and Bradley Wright-Phillips to have breakout matches after failing to create much a week ago.

New York City FC at FC Dallas (Sunday, 8 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1)

The big spenders of the Eastern Conference take on the primary example for building from within in the Western Conference in an enticing nightcap on Sunday. NYCFC has found success on the road at 2-2-0 and they’ll give FC Dallas a run for their money, led by David Villa and his six goals.

Maxi Urruti came alive last week for FC Dallas with a brace and he’ll once again look for holes in the NYCFC defense to keep Oscar Pareja’s men on top of the Western Conference. Expect goals from this contest. There’s been a minimum of three goals scored in the two meetings between these sides.

 

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