Just like the Major League Soccer season, Saturday’s 10-game slate is a marathon, not a sprint.
The MLS weekend begins with a national afternoon showcase game between New York City FC and the Seattle Sounders, and Saturday’s play won’t end until roughly 12 hours later. In addition to Saturday’s contests, there’s an intriguing match on Sunday that features Eastern Conference foes.
Here’s a closer look at each of the 11 games being played in MLS this weekend:
Seattle Sounders at New York City FC (Saturday, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN)
A fully-rested Sounders squad comes to the Bronx for a matinee at Yankee Stadium. The Sounders didn’t use any of its first-teamers in the U.S. Open Cup against the Portland Timbers, which should help on Saturday despite the early kickoff time.
NYCFC enters Saturday on short rest after fielding a full squad in the Open Cup loss to the New York Red Bulls. However, the numbers are on the side of Patrick Vieira’s club, as it has lost just one home game in its last 15 regular-season matches at Yankee Stadium.
Columbus Crew at Atlanta United (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
After you’re done having a social life for a few hours on Saturday afternoon, come back to your tablets and computers for an enticing Eastern Conference clash at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The Crew are trying to rebound from an Open Cup defeat in Cincinnati, but it won’t be easy since the club has a 2-6-0 road record in 2017.
Atlanta United is still hovering underneath the red line, mainly because they’ve played a large chunk of road games. Nothing is a must-win at this point for Tata Martino’s men with a long stretch at home in the fall, but it never hurts to strike up some momentum with a home victory.
Chicago Fire at New England Revolution (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
Are the Chicago Fire for real? Yes, they certainly are, but the question will still be asked of Veljko Paunovic’s club. For as good as the second-place team in the East has been at home (7-0-1), it’s been as brutal on the road (1-3-3). At some point, the Fire must rectify their home form to become even more of an MLS Cup contender.
The Revs continue to stay out of the national spotlight in seventh place with 20 points. In two home meetings with the Fire a year ago, Jay Heaps’ men won by a combined 3-0 scoreline. They lost their first match with Chicago this season on the road by a 3-0 score.
Montreal Impact at Orlando City (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
Usually you’d think a struggling team would get trampled in a raucous environment, but the Impact could be in perfect position to steal some points in Orlando due to all of the events happening around the Lions in the last few days.
After losing to Miami FC at home in the Open Cup, Orlando forward Cyle Larin was arrested for DUI after driving on the wrong side of the road. The Canadian forward is not available for selection on Saturday. The madness could continue to weigh on the Lions, or it could lead to an emotional outpouring that results in a large victory.
D.C. United at Toronto FC (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, TSN 1, MLS Live)
There’s a good chance Saturday’s worst versus first clash at BMO Field will be a bloody big nightmare for D.C. United. Although they did beat amateur side Christos FC in the Open Cup on Tuesday, United struggled to put them away until the final 10 minutes.
With Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley back in the fold, Toronto is hungry to extend its lead at the top of the East and become the first MLS team to hit the 30-point threshold. One would think it would be an easy task given the home form of the Reds and the overall rough form of the visiting Black and Red.
Sporting Kansas City at San Jose Earthquakes (Saturday, 9 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
Western Conference leader Sporting Kansas City enters Saturday with three consecutive wins over the San Jose Earthquakes. Peter Vermes’ men also come into Saturday on the heels of a 4-0 Open Cup blowout of Minnesota United. Look for Dom Dwyer to continue to thrive in front of goal in his final chance to impress Bruce Arena before the Gold Cup roster comes out.
Everyone’s favorite Gold Cup group stage forward will also look to impress Arena with the Quakes on Saturday night. Chris Wondolowski enters the weekend with six tallies in 2017, and there’s still a decent chance he gets a call from Arena with the first-team regulars not expected to show up for the July tournament.
Portland Timbers at Colorado Rapids (Saturday, 9:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
The trio of matches in 2016 between the Timbers and Rapids were ones to forget, as two combined goals were scored. Going further back in history, the Rapids have only one once in the last seven games against the Timbers. However, the Timbers have struggled on the road recently after winning two of their first three on their travels.
The Rapids are still looking to get out of the Western Conference cellar following a brutal start. But the Rapids have been decent at home, sporting a 4-2-1 mark at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. At some point, things have to turn around for the club and a win over the Timbers would help put them in the right direction.
Minnesota United at Real Salt Lake (Saturday, 10 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
Saturday’s match at Rio Tinto Stadium isn’t exactly to most appealing to outsiders, or even fans of Minnesota United and Real Salt Lake if we’re being honest. The Loons were dumped out of the Open Cup on Wednesday as they conceded four goals as did RSL in their loss to Sacramento.
If there’s anything to look forward to in this match, the two teams did score six combined goals in their first-ever meeting on April 1 in Minnesota. Here’s hoping we get the same entertainment level in Utah.
FC Dallas at Vancouver Whitecaps (Saturday, 10 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
Defense has reigned supreme in the last two years when FC Dallas and Vancouver get together. Three games in 2015 and two in 2016 featured at least one clean sheet, with one scoreless draw in the mix as well. Mauro Diaz is continuing his work back to full fitness, but a full shift on turf may not be wise for him at this point.
The Whitecaps are susceptible to dropping points at BC Place, with a 4-2-1 home mark in 2017. That can’t be the case if the Whitecaps want to stay in the top six of the West for the rest of the season. The good news is the Whitecaps won two of their last three at home before the international break, That streak must continue on Saturday against a full strength FC Dallas.
Houston Dynamo at LA Galaxy (Saturday, 11 p.m. ET, UniMas)
Late-night MLS action returns to StubHub Center, as the high-flying Dynamo attack pay a visit to the Galaxy. The Dynamo may be one of the better teams in the West right now, but they’ve has been horrendous on the road. Hopefully the win over North Carolina FC in the Open Cup was the start to the team’s road cure.
The Galaxy are in the middle of a six-game unbeaten streak in league play powered by an impressive four-game road swing that resulted in 10 points. Now the task at hand for the Galaxy is to reverse the poor home form that hurt them in March and April. LA is the worst team in MLS at home at 1-3-2.
New York Red Bulls at Philadelphia Union (Sunday, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN)
The New York Red Bulls are in a decent position in the East in sixth place, but they have an atrocious 1-6-0 road record that looms over their heads entering Talen Energy Stadium on Sunday. The Red Bulls also to prevent looking ahead to Saturday’s Rivalry Week clash with NYCFC, something that should be tempered after a Wednesday Open Cup win over the other New York side.
The Union fell back to Earth hard in their last two games before the international break with losses to RSL and NYCFC. Now with a three-game league homestand in front of them, Jim Curtin’s men must respond and improve on their 10th-place position in the East.