MLS Week 16: A Look Ahead

MLS Week 16: A Look Ahead

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MLS Week 16: A Look Ahead

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Photo by Kelvin Kuo/USA Today Sports

Photo by Kelvin Kuo/USA Today Sports

While the Colorado Rapids and Chicago Fire will be off this weekend, the MLS schedule features several high-profile matchups, which begins with the Seattle Sounders hosting New York City FC on Saturday afternoon.

Real Salt Lake will travel to FC Dallas in a key Western Conference clash amongst playoff-bound clubs. With just one point separating the two sides, expect this one to be among the more enticing matches of the weekend.

Later in the evening, the third and final Cali Clasico of the regular season will take place as the San Jose Earthquakes host the LA Galaxy at Avaya Stadium. The sides split their most recent meeting, while the Galaxy took the first decision, 3-1.

The Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Union will also be in action against the Vancouver Whitecaps, while Columbus Crew-New York Red Bulls and D.C. United-New England Revolution hold significant weight in the East.

Here is a rundown of the full Week 16 slate:

SEATTLE SOUNDERS vs. NEW YORK CITY FC (Saturday, 5 p.m., ESPN/ESPN Deportes/MLS Live)

The Sounders have been extremely difficult to figure out this season. The loss of Obafemi Martins over the offseason was certainly a blow to Sigi Schmid’s team, but the Sounders still boast a talented roster. While they’ll be without Clint Dempsey for at least one more match, the emergence of Jordan Morris and Aaron Kovar should give NYCFC’s backline fits.

Patrick Vieira’s team will be missing Jason Hernandez, who picked up a red card against the Vancouver Whitecaps a week ago. Following all three NYCFC Designated Players scoring a week ago, David Villa and co. will have to come up big against a stingy Sounders backline.

PHILADELPHIA UNION vs VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (Saturday, 7 p.m., MLS Live)

The Union continue to win matches, and by doing so, Jim Curtin’s team is putting the rest of MLS on notice.

The emergence of Roland Alberg has proven to be just what the Union ordered, as C.J. Sapong continues to miss time with an ankle injury. Alberg is coming off of his first career hat trick in Wednesday’s 4-3 win against the Chicago Fire.

Carl Robinson and the Whitecaps are hovering above the Western Conference playoff line, but inconsistent results has the team struggling at the moment. The Whitecaps have allowed 27 goals this season, tied for the most in the West, which doesn’t bode well against an efficient attack likes the Union’s.

D.C. UNITED vs. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (Saturday, 7 p.m., MLS Live)

Neither side has gotten off to the start that they would have liked this season after making the playoffs in 2015.

D.C. has been one of the better defensive teams in MLS this season, however, it’s the club’s attack that has left the questions around Ben Olson and co. Alvaro Saborio leads the way for the D.C. offense, posting four goals through 15 matches.

Despite posting one of the better attacks, at least on paper, in MLS, the Revolution can’t find consistent results in 2016. The Revs will look to take advantage of the numerous injuries and suspensions in D.C.’s lineup, including Bobby Boswell and Patrick Nyarko.

MONTREAL IMPACT vs. SPORTING KC (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., MLS Live)

Both sides have been in poor form as of late, however, Saturday’s meeting offers both clubs a chance at redemption.

Sporting KC is coming off of an important and controversial 2-0 win against FC Dallas, but that could be the turning point for Peter Vermes’ side. With Graham Zusi and Matt Besler returning from international duty in the next week, SKC will be given another boost very soon.

The Impact boast one of the league’s top attacks, but with Ignacio Piatti still sidelined with a hand injury, Didier Drogba will be asked to pick up the slack.

COLUMBUS CREW vs. NEW YORK RED BULLS (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., MLS Live)

It may not have the feeling of when the two sides got together in the Eastern Conference finals last fall, but Saturday’s meeting holds great weight for the Crew and Red Bulls.

The Crew currently sit ninth in the East, however, a win could go a long way in pulling Greg Berhalter’s team back into the playoff picture as the MLS season nears the halfway mark. With just one loss on the year at home, the Crew will look to capitalize on their positive form at MAPFRE Stadium.

Head coach Jesse Marsch and the Red Bulls are coming off of a disappointing loss at Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night, but they’ll need to quickly forget what transpired at Rio Tinto Stadium. Centerback Aurelien Collin will be suspended, after picking up a questionable red card in the dying minutes of the match.

ORLANDO CITY vs. TORONTO FC (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., MLS Live)

Despite conceding two late goals to the San Jose Earthquakes a week ago, and dropping two points in the process, Orlando City SC remains unbeaten at home this season.

The Lions will be looking to buck a recurring theme of the season, though, tying matches. Orlando has drawn eight times in their 14 matches in 2016, the most of any MLS side. With Kaka nearing a return to the lineup on Saturday, perhaps their meeting with TFC will be the opportunity they’re looking for.

Between injuries and a key international call up, TFC has been undermanned recently. Jozy Altidore, Daniel Lovitz and Ashtone Morgan all remain sidelined with injuries, while Michael Bradley is finishing up his stint with the U.S. Men’s National Team at the Copa America. Luckily for Greg Vanney’s side, they still have superstar attacker Sebastian Giovinco.

FC DALLAS vs. REAL SALT LAKE (Saturday, 8 p.m., MLS Live)

Despite sitting second in the West, FC Dallas has been a very different team away from home this season. Luckily for them, they’ll get to play at Toyota Stadium on Saturday night.

With countless attacking threats that need to be watched, Dallas will likely give RSL all they can handle. Michael Barrios and Tesho Akindele each have five goals on the year, while Max Urruti and Fabian Castillo are close behind with three.

RSL has quietly gone about their business this season, sitting one point behind Dallas for second in the Western Conference. Jeff Cassar’s team looks reinvigorated in all facets of the game, but the addition of Yura Movsisyan has proven to be huge for the attack, notching six goals on the year.

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES vs. LA GALAXY (Saturday, 10 p.m., Univision/Univision Deportes/MLS Live)

For the third and final time this season, the Cali Clasico will take center stage on Saturday night.

With both teams firmly in the playoff picture in the West, their meeting will serve as an important match for momentum ahead of the second half of the season. The Earthquakes and Galaxy have each been in poor form of late, with international call ups severely hindering each team’s starting XI.

The Earthquakes will continue to be without leading goalscorer Chris Wondolowski, while the Galaxy miss Gyasi Zardes, Robbie Keane, as well as several others to injuries.

PORTLAND TIMBERS vs. HOUSTON DYNAMO (Sunday, 6 p.m., ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/ESPN3/MLS Live)

Well, the Dynamo haven’t lost since interim head coach Wade Barrett took over. The bad news is that they haven’t won yet either.

Three straight ties have the Dynamo firmly in last place in the West, and playing at Providence Park is never an easy task. The Dynamo have won just once in their last five meetings with the Timbers, and the defending champions are picking up steam as the season rolls on.

Don’t look now, but the Timbers are unbeaten in their last four. With Darlington Nagbe still with the USMNT and Darren Mattocks out injured, the Timbers are going to continue to get more dangerous as the season progresses, and that’s not ideal for the rest of the Western Conference.

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