Week 5 in MLS offers plenty of tasty matches, including an East Coast-West Coast battle pitting the 2015 MLS Cup champions against a Cyle Larin-led Orlando City SC.
The Portland Timbers take on the Lions on Sunday, as Canadian international Larin looks to score for a fourth MLS game running.
Other matches to keep a close eye on over the weekend include Seattle Sounders-Montreal Impact, Sporting Kansas City-Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas-Columbus Crew and New England Revolution-New York Red Bulls.
Elsewhere, the Chicago Fire host a surprising Philadelphia Union squad, FC Dallas welcomes the Columbus Crew to Toyota Stadium, the San Jose Earthquakes play a struggling D.C. United team and the Colorado Rapids take on Toronto FC.
Here’s a closer look at this weekend’s MLS action:
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION vs. NEW YORK RED BULLS (Friday, 7 p.m., UniMas)
Two Eastern Conference contenders enter Friday’s battle at Gillette Stadium in dire need of a win.
Combined, the Revolution and Red Bulls have only earned one win through seven games played. The Revolution have yet to earn one, but have amassed three points to start the 2016 season. The Revs will welcome the return of Lee Nguyen, who was away on national team duty during last weekend’s tie against New York City. Je-Vaughn Watson also returns to the team, but he and Gershon Koffie must serve a one-game suspensions.
On the other side of the ball, the Red Bulls leaky back line will be looking to stop the likes of Charlie Davies, Diego Fagundez and Juan Agudelo from scoring. Jesse March’s defense has conceded eight goals to start the season, and to make matters worse, Ronald Zubar and Gideon Baah will miss Week 5 due to injuries.
Felipe, who turned in an incredible two-goal performance last time out, will look to lead the Red Bulls from the midfield once again.
CHICAGO FIRE vs. PHILADELPHIA UNION (Saturday, 5 p.m., MLS Live)
The Union were one of the surprise teams from March, gaining six points through three games, and they face another challenge at Toyota Park on Saturday.
The Fire are coming off an impressive defensive performance, and are hoping to stop a Union offense that has looked like one of the most dynamic in the league. C.J. Sapong scored twice for the Union on March 20, but the play of Chris Pontius has been the key to the club’s success thus far. The midfielder has scored two goals and provided one assist in three games.
Fire head coach Veljko Paunovic will most likely start the rookie tandem of Jonathan Campbell and Brandon Vincent once again on his back line come Saturday. The two defended extremely well against a strong Columbus Crew attack two weeks ago. David Accam, who has two goals to his name to start the season, will be expected to net if the Fire are to have any chance of earning their first win of the year.
COLORADO RAPIDS vs. TORONTO FC (Saturday, 8 p.m., MLS Live)
Toronto FC will be looking to take advantage of a Rapids team that is still waiting for Jermaine Jones’ first appearance for his new club.
Led by 2015 MLS MVP Sebastian Giovinco, who has scored two goals and assisted just as many through three games, Toronto FC enters Saturday’s clash at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in the search of its second league win of the season. TFC, which has yet to play a home match in 2016 due to stadium construction, has earned four points.
In good news for Toronto FC, Jozy Altidore is expected to start his first game of the MLS season after recovering from a hamstring injury during the preseason.
The Rapids received bad news out of the most recent international break, as starting forward Kevin Doyle suffered a shin injury and is expected to miss three-to-five weeks. Marco Pappa, who has one goal and one assist this year, will have to spur the Rapids on even more if they are to continue their two-game unbeaten run.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs. REAL SALT LAKE (Saturday, 8:30 p.m., MLS Live)
In one of Week 5’s must-see matchups, Sporting KC hosts Western Conference foe Real Salt Lake at Children’s Mercy Park.
Peter Vermes’ men are the only team left in MLS with a perfect record, and Joao Plata and company will be hoping to spoil the party on Saturday. RSL also enters the game unbeaten, but it will be without two key contributors for the battle. Jamison Olave is suspended for a red card he received last game out, while Juan Manuel “Burrito” Martinez must also miss the game after being suspended by the league’s disciplinary committee.
Roger Espinoza must sit out due to a suspension of his own, and Matt Besler is expected to rest following a concussion he suffered with the U.S. Men’s National Team. However, Sporting KC should have most of its regular contributors available, and see the return of MLS MVP nominee Benny Feilhaber, who missed the club’s win on March 20.
FC DALLAS vs. COLUMBUS CREW (Saturday, 9 p.m., MLS Live)
FC Dallas has been one of the most explosive teams in MLS after four weeks of action, and the club will have the opportunity to continue its strong start at Toyota Stadium.
Maxi Urruti leads the team with three goals scored, but it has been the play of Mauro Diaz which has received most of the attention. Diaz, who was named SBI MLS Player of the Month for his performances in March, has been the league’s most consistent creator in 2016.
The Crew, who saw star forward Kei Kamara score his first goal of the season in Week 3 action, will surely need to net at least once if they have any chance at earning a point in what could be a high-scoring affair in Frisco.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS vs. LA GALAXY (Saturday, 10 p.m., MLS Live)
The Galaxy were dealt a serious blow with the injury of Robbie Keane, but they will hope Gyasi Zardes’ goal-scoring propels the club to yet another win in 2016.
The Galaxy, who have six points through three games, put together an all-around solid performance to beat the Earthquakes in Week 3. While Zardes scored two goals to help his side earn the three points, centerback Jelle Van Damme arguably proved to be the team’s most impactful player, as he assisted two goals and did well defending an Earthquakes team that has been fruitful in its respective campaign thus far.
While Masato Kudo is suspended for the Whitecaps, the club is looking to score its first goal from the run of play since March 6. Pedro Morales has scored four times since their first game of the year, but all of them have come from the penalty spot.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS vs. MONTREAL IMPACT (Saturday, 10 p.m., MLS Live)
The Sounders are looking for their first point of the season in Week 5, and extremely tough opponents in the Impact stands in their way.
The Impact, led by Ignacio Piatti, have started the season well, but fell to FC Dallas last time out. The Argentine attacker has scored three goals so far, and has been combining well with Harry Shipp. Centerback Laurent Ciman, who has been suffering from an ankle injury, trained with the team this week, and expects to play this weekend. Didier Drogba is likely to not feature for the visitors due to the turf at CenturyLink Field.
The Sounders will be without defender Roman Torres, as he continues to recover from an ACL tear, but Brad Evans did return to training this week and could boost the Sounders back line on Saturday. His return would be a major plus for a Sounders side that continues to concede goals game in, game out this season.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES vs. D.C. UNITED (Saturday, 10:30 p.m., MLS Live)
Following their California Clasico loss, the Earthquakes look to bounce back against a D.C. United team that has struggled to start the season.
Scoring only two goals, tied for the worst in the league thus far, D.C. United has failed to earn a win through four games in 2016. Ben Olsen’s men have also conceded eight goals, which is a good sign for Chris Wondolowski and company ahead of Saturday evening’s showdown. The U.S. Men’s National Team forward has scored three goals, and is well on his way to another 10-goal campaign.
While Simon Dawkins will miss Week 5 due to suspension, veteran defender Clarence Goodson will lead coach Dominic Kinnear’s back line, which has looked strong against some of the best teams in MLS. However, the Galaxy dominated this Earthquakes team last time it took the field, and D.C. will be hoping to repeat a similar performance on the road.
ORLANDO CITY SC vs. PORTLAND TIMBERS (Sunday, 8 p.m., Fox Sports 1)
The reigning MLS Cup champions play host to a strong Orlando City team in Week 5’s headliner.
Both sides enter Sunday’s battle with its best players available, as Kaka confirmed he will be ready to go against the Timbers this weekend. Kevin Molino scored for Trinidad and Tobago over March’s international break, meaning the Lions will have a bevy of in-form attacking talents to play at the Citrus Bowl.
Fanendo Adi is in top form as well, though, scoring twice in Week 3 to help his side earn an important 2-2 tie against Real Salt Lake. Darlington Nagbe, who played in one of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s March World Cup qualifiers, is set to combine with Diego Valeri once again. In injury news, Liam Ridgewell is expected to miss Sunday’s meeting.