A double dose of Major League Soccer Week 12 action continues this weekend, with a full slate starting on Friday with a mouthwatering clash between a pair of Eastern Conference foes.
Mixed in the crowded Saturday slate are some intriguing matchups that may not seem interesting on paper, but recent history suggests you keep a closer eye on the games, especially the one in Frisco, Texas.
The weekend wraps up with one of the league’s biggest star-studded clashes in central Florida, one that will receive plenty of attention as always.
Here’s a look at the full weekend slate across MLS:
Toronto FC at New York Red Bulls (Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET, TSN2, MLS Live)
In order to keep their incredible form in tact, Toronto FC will have to win without the injured Sebastian Giovinco on Friday night in New Jersey. The Reds, who have strung together six victories in a row, will have plenty of cover for the Italian with Jozy Altidore and Tosaint Ricketts up top. As long as the defense can withstand pressure from the hungry Red Bulls, at least a point should be manageable.
The Red Bulls are trending in the opposite direction of their Friday opposition, with three losses in a row. Two of those defeats came on the road before the 3-1 loss to the Galaxy on Sunday. It won’t be easy at all for Jesse Marsch’s men to get on the right track against the surging Reds, but if anyone can reverse the trend right away, it’s Marsch.
Portland Timbers at Montreal Impact (Saturday, 3 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
Portland and Montreal enter Saturday’s clash at Stade Saputo with a combined two wins out of their last eight games. Portland sits in fourth in the Western Conference partly thanks to a pair of victories on the road to cover up some recent home struggles. Darlington Nagbe returned to training on Tuesday, but he may be a week away from returning given the amount of travel to Quebec.
The Impact appeared to turn the corner with a road win in D.C. two weeks ago, but they turned around last week and lost 3-2 to the Crew at home. Mauro Biello has to find some sort of consistency out of his side before it gets buried in the cellar of the Eastern Conference alongside D.C. United.
Chicago Fire at D.C. United (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, UniMas)
Chicago returns to RFK Stadium for the first time since the 6-2 thumping it received from D.C. United last August. The Fire have outscored the Sounders and Rapids by a combined 7-1 scored in the last two weeks, and a third straight win could easily be in the cards with struggling D.C. on the weekend slate.
D.C. is one gigantic, disorganized mess at the moment. And on top of all the recent struggles, United will be without Luciano Acosta, who is serving a one-game red card ban. Outside of Acosta, Sebastien Le Toux is the only D.C. player with more than one goal, an issue that could be solved by the improving fitness of Patrick Mullins.
Real Salt Lake at Seattle Sounders (Saturday, 5 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
Real Salt Lake finally got rid of their losing demons on Wednesday night with a win over New York City FC. Things get a bit tougher for Mike Petke’s men on Saturday, when they visit CenturyLink Field. The injury list is still large for the Claret and Cobalt, but Albert Rusnak has been doing his best to make sure RSL have an impact player in the lineup every game.
Seattle received a beating in Kansas City on Wednesday to pile on top of the recent struggles its been going through, including a blowout loss to the Fire last weekend. The Sounders are on a four-game winless run, one that hopefully ends with a return home. Out of the MLS oddity department, all three of the matches between these two teams last ended 2-1.
Houston Dynamo at Atlanta United (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
Houston looked incompetent of putting together even five minutes of consistent soccer on Wednesday in Philadelphia. It’s no secret the Dynamo have struggled on the road, the polar opposite of a strong home mark. The key, as it has been for most of the season, is to get Alex on the ball an either strike early, or exploit the opposing defense on the counter.
Atlanta is tasting the spoils of being at home for just the second time since March 18. With Mercedes-Benz Stadium opening later than expected, the home matches will be few and far between for the expansion side. With a poor road team in Houston entering Bobby Dodd Stadium, United must try to pounce early, gain momentum and take a ton of confidence out of this contest.
Colorado Rapids at Philadelphia Union (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
Just a few weeks ago, we were dreading this matchup on the schedule, and the Colorado Rapids might still be in that mindset as the weaker team on the field at Talen Energy Stadium on Saturday night. The confidence earned from the win over San Jose was erased by a loss to Chicago on Wednesday. Pablo Mastroeni needs to find some way to inspire the Rapids ahead of a four-game homestand.
Philadelphia has caught plenty of eyes for its scoring prowess in recent weeks, but its spine has been the real reason for the success. Haris Medunjanin and Alejandro Bedoya have shut down Giovani Dos Santos, Sacha Kljestan, Luciano Acosta and Alex in the last four games, which doesn’t bode well for the less-talented Rapids.
Sporting Kansas City at Vancouver Whitecaps (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, TSN1, MLS Live)
The schedule makers did Sporting Kansas City no favors this week, as Peter Vermes’ side travels to Vancouver after a Wednesday home game. Squad rotation could be the name of the game for Sporting KC after climbing to the top of the Western Conference with a 3-0 win over Seattle on Wednesday.
The Whitecaps have quietly won three of their last five contests, and they sit in sixth place in the West. Saturday presents the perfect opportunity for the Caps to swipe three points at home against a quality club. Look for the Fredy Montero-Brek Shea chemistry to continue to get better as the healthy pair get more minutes together.
San Jose Earthquakes at FC Dallas (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
San Jose needed a little bit of late magic once again on Wednesday night to earn a point at home. Chris Wondolowski is now up to five goals in 2017, and there’s a chance Dominic Kinnear and company could go into Toyota Stadium and pull out points. In the last four regular-season meetings, the Quakes have held FC Dallas to three draws, including a 1-1 result on April 14.
FC Dallas will be war of the threat San Jose poses, but the lone unbeaten team in MLS shouldn’t be too worried about that given its strong start. One of the only critiques you could have of Oscar Pareja’s side is its dropped four points at home, resulting in a 3-0-2 home mark so far.
Columbus Crew at New England Revolution (Sunday, 2:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
Columbus comes into Gillette Stadium on Sunday with three consecutive 3-0 victories over the Revolution, including one on May 6 at Mapfre Stadium. Justin Meram has put his name into the extremely early MVP discussion with seven goals, and Ola Kamara is just one behind the Iraq international in the scoring column.
New England broke a five-game winless run last week with a demolition of a weakened RSL team. Now the task is to prove they’ve recovered from the early-season struggles with a good performance against the Crew. Juan Agudelo has a few more games left in his Gold Cup audition for Bruce Arena. He has six goals, and a few more might lead to a July call-up.
LA Galaxy at Minnesota United (Sunday, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN)
The first-ever meeting between the Galaxy and the Loons features a pair of six-goal scorers. Romain Alessandrini was the lone bright spot during the first two months of the season for the Galaxy, but now they seem to have turned a corner with a win over the Red Bulls on their travels last weekend.
No one has turned the corner more than Minnesota since the start of the season. Once assumed to be the worst team in MLS history, the Loons have put together a respectable last few weeks. The renewed chemistry between Christian Ramirez and Miguel Ibarra on top of the appearances made by Abu Danladi have made the Minnesota attack one to keep an eye on.
New York City FC at Orlando City (Sunday, 7 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1)
As it usually does, the matchup between the two third-year sides in MLS receives the national spotlight on Sunday. We can’t take much out of NYCFC’s loss to RSL on Wednesday since it was a road game against a Western Conference foe and Patrick Vieira rested David Villa for the star-studded clash at Orlando City Stadium.
Give Jason Kreis credit for going after the win in San Jose on Wednesday, and the Lions almost came away with three points. At stake for Orlando is Sunday is an unbeaten home mark of 5-0-1 and the continued exposure of Cyle Larin, a name that will be in the transfer rumor mill all summer.