MLS Week 28: A Look Ahead

MLS Week 28: A Look Ahead

Major League Soccer

MLS Week 28: A Look Ahead

 

Between the time you clicked on this link and started reading this preview, Atlanta United scored another goal.

The Five Stripes will once again be at the center of the MLS universe on Saturday afternoon as they are set to break the MLS attendance record for the third installment of the Southeast derby against Orlando City.

Saturday will be a marathon day with 10 games on the slate and plenty of playoff implications to go around as well as a Sunday game that might end up being more competitive than some think.

Here’s a detailed look at the games being played across MLS this weekend:

Orlando City at Atlanta United (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, Univision)

If there was ever a time for Orlando City to revive its bleak playoff hopes, Saturday is the day. The Lions are seven points away from the red line and need another result to follow up their win over D.C. United last weekend. However, that might be a tough ask against Atlanta and its crowd.

With games in hand over everyone else in the Eastern Conference playoff race, Atlanta could potentially swoop into the discussion for the top two. But in order for that to happen, Tata Martino’s men must win in front of almost 70.000 fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Columbus Crew at Vancouver Whitecaps (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, MLS Live)

Since becoming trading partners early in the season, the Crew and Whitecaps have both experienced success as a team. Although Tony Tchani has benefited more from his change of scenery than Kekuta Manneh.

The Crew are in need of a result on the road with Atlanta breathing down their necks, while the Caps are surprisingly atop the West entering the weekend, and it looks like it’ll be a three-way Cascadia race for the two byes.

Minnesota United at Montreal Impact (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, TVA Sport, MLS Live)

The week-long travel to the north for the Loons started poorly as they were handed a 3-0 defeat by Vancouver on Wednesday. Now the focus turns to attempting to steal a point out of Montreal. It’s possible since Montreal’s lost five home games, but the Impact need this game more.

Mauro Biello’s men dropped into the category of teams desperate for results to go their way to make the playoffs last weekend following a defeat to the New England REvolution. The Impact have to be near perfection and hope Atlanta, the Crew or the Red Bulls slip up to steal the No. 6 spot in the East.

Seattle Sounders at FC Dallas (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, MLS Live)

Just a few months ago we thought this game would be a playoff preview of sorts. It still could be, but instead of a late-round game, it could be a knockout-round showdown. The Sounders, who are chasing one of the two byes in the West, have conceded twice in their last three games in Frisco.

The good news for FC Dallas, if there is any floating around right now, is that the home team won all five games in this series last season, including in the playoffs. Something has to change in Texas soon or the dreams of chasing a trophy will fade off into the sunset.

D.C. United at Chicago Fire (Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live)

Despite a late surge after the transfer window closed, D.C. United is almost locked into the bottom spot in the East table for good. A 3-9-1 road record paired with a -23 goal differential doesn’t give much hope for good fortunes on Saturday.

The Fire may have only drawn the Red Bulls last week, but it was big for Nemanja Nikolic, who finally broke his scoring drought. With confidence back and D.C. in town, Nikolic might be able to break out and spark a Fire surge with three points at Toyota Park.

New England Revolution at Sporting Kansas City (Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live)

The Revs enter Kansas City bruised and battered from a beatdown that left them frustrated with VAR and without two players for Saturday’s trip due to suspension. It’s an uphill climb and then some for the Revs right now.

The focus for Sporting Kansas City this week to not look ahead to the Open Cup final on Wednesday night. Every point is needed in the race for seeding in the West right now and once three points are secured on Saturday, they can start getting ready for the final.

New York City FC at Colorado Rapids (Saturday, 9 p.m. ET, MLS Live)

The goal is pretty simple for New York City FC at this point in the season: win your remaining home games and scrap for points on the road to make sure Atlanta doesn’t catch you. With a 5-6-2 road mark, Patrick Vieira’s men should go into Dick’s Sporting Goods Park with confidence.

The Rapids gained some momentum last week with its first road win of the season in Houston. The Rapids are playing for pride and are looking to escape the Western Conference basement. Don’t be completely surprised if they play the role of spoiler to perfection here.

Portland Timbers at Real Salt Lake (Saturday, 9:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live)

This could be one of the more intriguing matchups of the weekend, with both the Timbers and Real Salt Lake in separate fights on each side of the West standings. The Timbers all of a sudden have to try and keep pace with the Whitecaps, and first place in the West could come down to October 22 at Providence Park.

RSL has been lingering around the red line for the last month, but they haven’t completely pounced on their opportunity yet, which could cause for concern because at some point FC Dallas are expected to turn it around. The Claret and Cobalt can still keep things interesting, but they must win on Saturday in order to do so.

Toronto FC at LA Galaxy (Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET, TSN1, MLS Live)

Once thought of as one of MLS’ glamour matchups, Saturday’s showdown at StubHub Center looks like another chance for Toronto FC to beat up on a weaker team, even without Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore.

The Galaxy have already clinched the league’s worst home record, which currently sits at 2-8-4. No other team in MLS has less than six. A win on Saturday, or in one of their two other home games would save the Galaxy from league history. The 2001 Tampa Bay Mutiny currently hold the mark for worst home record in a season at 2-10-1.

Houston Dynamo at San Jose Earthquakes (Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live)

Ah, the rare double 10:30 p.m. ET kickoff special on a Saturday night. Things are bound to get weird in one of the two late games, per MLS regulations and usually the craziness occurs in San Jose.

The Dynamo have outscored the Quakes, 5-0, in two games at BBVA Compass Stadium in 2017, but now with the venue changed and the Quakes in need of a win to keep themselves around the red line, the final result could change.

Philadelphia Union at New York Red Bulls (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN)

On paper, this looks like a straightforward victory at home for the Red Bulls, but the Union typically play them tough. The Union pushed the Red Bulls to extra time in the Open Cup this season and won 3-0 at home back in May.

The game means more to the Red Bulls though as they’ve suddenly been dropped to sixth place in the East by Atlanta’s recent surge. Each of the last three league contests between the two teams have produced a clean sheet on one end.

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