MLS Rivalry Week is upon us, and some of the league’s premier clashes headline the weekend’s action.
One of the league’s newer rivalries takes centerstage on Saturday as New York City FC hosts the New York Red Bulls following a sweep by the latter in 2015. A series of more traditional rivalries are also on the docket including a Cali Clasico, a Cascadia clash between the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps and a meeting between Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake.
The weekend is kicked off with a meeting between the Philadelphia Union and D.C. United, while Saturday’s clash between the Seattle Sounders and league-leading Colorado Rapids provides a meeting of Western Conference contenders.
Here’s a closer look at this weekend’s action:
PHILADELPHIA UNION vs. D.C. UNITED (Friday, 7 p.m., UniMas)
Chris Pontius has been one of the season’s best offseason acquisitions, but the Philadelphia Union midfielder must now face off with his former club.
Heading into Friday’s match against D.C. United, Pontius has provided four goals and two assists through his first 10 games with the Union. In recent weeks, though, the Union have struggled to find the winning touch and have settled for three straight draws.
D.C. United will be riding high following a rivalry match victory over the New York Red Bulls, a comprehensive 2-0 defeat that was likely the team’s best performance of the season. Bill Hamid is nearing his return from injury, but isn’t expected to be ready for Friday’s match, while Chris Rolfe will once again miss out due to a concussion.
NEW YORK CITY FC vs. NEW YORK RED BULLS ( Saturday, 3 p.m., Fox)
After going 3-0 against their local rivals last season, the New York Red Bulls take on an NYCFC team riding as high as ever.
Entering Saturday’s clash, NYCFC is on a five-game unbeaten run that began with three straight wins. Head coach Patrick Vieira rested many of his starters in a midweek draw with Toronto FC, while Frank Lampard could finally make his long-awaited season debut on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
The Red Bulls also enter on the heels of a midweek game, a win over the Chicago Fire. Facing off with David Villa, the Red Bulls will need centerback Aurelien Collin to continue to lead the defense while the midfield trio of Dax McCarty, Felipe and Sacha Kljestan will look to overpower the NYCFC midfield within the tight confines of Yankee Stadium.
CHICAGO FIRE vs. HOUSTON DYNAMO (Saturday, 5 p.m., MLS Live)
Following a midweek defeat at the hands of the Red Bulls, the Chicago Fire will look to bounce back against another struggling team.
In a battle of each conference’s bottom-dweller, the Fire host the Houston Dynamo, who enter on a bit of a hot streak having won two of three. The Fire, meanwhile, have lost four of five, including a 1-0 decision to the Red Bulls midweek.
While the Dynamo have proven quite competent on the attacking end, Saturday’s opponents have not. The Fire have scored just eight times this season, good for last in the league by a two goal margin.
TORONTO FC vs. COLUMBUS CREW (Saturday, 5 p.m., MLS Live)
Following news of Jozy Altidore’s injury, Toronto FC faces a Columbus Crew team still recovering from a bit of chaos of their own.
Altidore is set to miss an extended period of time for the Canadian club, while Michael Bradley will join the U.S. Men’s National Team following Saturday’s match. The losses put more pressure on Sebastian Giovinco, who continues to shine ahead of a potential call-up for Italy for Euro 2016.
The Crew are still reeling from the Kei Kamara trade, but did well to earn a 1-1 draw against the Colorado Rapids last time out. The scoring load remains on the shoulders of Ola Kamara, who has yet to score in limited minutes this season.
ORLANDO CITY vs. MONTREAL IMPACT (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., MLS Live)
What was going to be a battle of two of the league’s biggest stars will be missing a major piece.
Didier Drogba is set to miss out on Saturday’s clash with Kaka and Orlando City. The Impact enter winless in five straight, and the Ivorian’s hip flexor issues will do no help ahead of a clash with a team also in need of a win.
Orlando City is winless in six. While the club has sealed four draws in that timespan, the Lions have fallen all the way to eighth in the conference ahead of a meeting with the East’s second place team.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION vs. FC DALLAS (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., MLS Live)
The second game of the Kei Kamara era will see the New England Revolution host one of MLS’ most dangerous attacking teams.
Kamara failed to net his first Revs goal last time out, but the veteran forward’s new team sealed a 2-0 win for their second victory of the 2016 season. The Revs currently sit seventh in the Eastern Conference, and any rise will have to come with Teal Bunbury and Chris Tierney out due to hamstring injuries.
FC Dallas also enters with some crucial players set for absences, as Matt Hedges is set to miss out while Jesse Gonzalez and Max Urruti are both seen as questionable.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs. REAL SALT LAKE ( Saturday, 8:30 p.m., MLS Live)
Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake are two of the league’s fiercest rivals, and Saturday’s matchup will once again provide a clash of Western Conference contenders.
The two sides’ encounters tend to be quite physical, and the fact that both sides are in need of a win could up the intensity even more. RSL travels to Kansas City with three losses in their last for, while Sporting KC snapped their own seven-game winless run with a defeat of Orlando City last time out.
Sporting KC’s defense is in for a test with the absences of Kevin Ellis and Seth Sinovic, while RSL could be without midfielder Sunny for Saturday’s match.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS vs. COLORADO RAPIDS (Saturday, 10 p.m., MLS Live)
After thrashing the Seattle Sounders earlier this season, the Colorado Rapids face a much different challenge this time around.
Last time, the Sounders entered in a bit of a rut ahead of a 3-1 defeat, but Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris and co. are now riding a streak that has seen four wins in six home matches. Dempsey and Morris in particular have led the way in the recent upswing, with the latter now sitting on four goals ahead of a likely Copa America call-up.
The Rapids have struggled on the road this season, with just one win in six road matches. Add in the absences of Marco Pappa and Eric Miller, and the Rapids will face a difficult task in taking down a much different Sounders team.
PORTLAND TIMBERS vs. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ESPN)
Following three straight losses, the reigning MLS Cup champions are in need of a result against their Cascadia rival.
The Portland Timbers are riding defeats to NYCFC, FC Dallas and the Vancouver Whitecaps, the latter of which started the champions’ three-game slide with a 2-1 win on May 7. Adding to the Timbers’ issues is a pair of injuries, as Fanendo Adi and Diego Chara remain questionable.
The Whitecaps have issues of their own following an injury to Masato Kudo and a suspension of Fraser Aird. However, the team enters in fine form, with Kekuta Manneh’s recent upswing in form serving as a highlight in recent weeks.
LA GALAXY vs. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (Sunday, 7 p.m., Fox Sports 1)
Sunday presents the season’s second Cali Clasico, and the San Jose Earthquakes will look to exact revenge following March’s drubbing.
The Earthquakes were setback with a 3-1 defeat to the LA Galaxy on March 13, and since, the Galaxy have enjoyed an eight-game unbeaten run. Sunday’s match will be played at StubHub Center, where the Galaxy have dropped just two points in five games this season. Alan Gordon remains a doubt for Sunday’s clash, while the Galaxy DPs are all expected to lead the way against a banged up Earthquakes team.
Clarence Goodson and Innocent Emeghara are set to miss out, while Qunicy Amarikwa is currently a doubt to participate in the festivities.