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MLS Week 21: A Look Ahead

Photo by Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA Today Sports
Photo by Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA Today Sports

As several players will look to quickly bounce back from Thursday’s MLS All-Star Game loss against Arsenal, the second half of the MLS season will be in full swing over the weekend.

While nine matches will take place on Sunday to give teams an extra day of rest, New York City FC will take on the red-hot Colorado Rapids in a battle between two of the league’s best sides. NYCFC is seeking a bounce-back performance following last week’s 4-1 loss against the rival New York Red Bulls.

Elsewhere, Sporting KC and the Portland Timbers will meet as the latter looks to make the leap back into the Western Conference playoff picture.

West leaders FC Dallas will face off against the Vancouver Whitecaps, while the struggling Philadelphia Union look to secure three points against Real Salt Lake in an inter-conference clash.

Here is a rundown of the full week 21 schedule:

NEW YORK CITY FC vs. COLORADO RAPIDS (Saturday, 3 p.m., MLS Live)

NYCFC will look to put its most recent loss behind them quickly, and they’ll need to do so against one of MLS’ elite sides. Patrick Vieira’s group will have to look to the bench to fill several key voids, including David Villa and RJ Allen, who are each suspended for the match.

The Rapids are currently riding a 15-match unbeaten streak, and the club has done nothing to show that their run will be ending any time soon. Their 2-2-5 road record isn’t overwhelmingly impressive, but Pablo Mastroeni’s side has proven time and time again this season that they can grind out results in any environment.

SPORTING KC vs. PORTLAND TIMBERS (Sunday, 2 p.m., FOX/Fox Deportes)

A 3-0 win against the slumping Seattle Sounders doesn’t automatically make Sporting KC a favorite in the West, but the team’s form has certainly improved since early June. Peter Vermes’ side has taken points in six of their last eight matches, and Sporting KC has shot up the West standings into fourth place.

The Timbers finally came back down to earth last weekend against the LA Galaxy, but Caleb Porter’s team needs to forget about that result in order to keep their minds focused on the task at hand; making the playoffs. Currently one point out of sixth place in the West, the Timbers will be in a fierce battle with several other clubs down the stretch vying for that final position.


The Sigi Schmid-Era is officially over in Seattle, and the Sounders have no time to sulk with the Galaxy coming to town. The Sounders currently sit 10 points out of sixth place in the West, and while their playoff hopes aren’t over yet, a positive result against Bruce Arena’s men is a necessity.

Four straight wins and unbeaten in their last six, the Galaxy are just beginning to hit their stride in the West. With Giovani dos Santos, Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes clicking on all cylinders in the attack, the Galaxy could prove to be the most dangerous side down the stretch, although FC Dallas and the Rapids will likely have a say about that.


With poinrs from 10 of the club’s last 12 matches, FC Dallas has firmly established itself as one of the top sides in MLS. Despite the recent exit of Fabian Castillo, Oscar Pareja boasts a talented group of attackers that can fill the void left by the Colombian. Mauro Diaz is playing at an MVP level this season, while the backline is beginning to look its best.

The Whitecaps briefly had Fabian Espindola, but the team continues to look for options to keep them in the playoff hunt. The Canadian side occupies the sixth spot in the West, but they’ll need to continue on their unbeaten path in order to hold onto that position.

D.C. UNITED vs. MONTREAL IMPACT (Sunday, 6:30 p.m., MLS Live)

With one win since early June, D.C. United is fading in the East. While four points separate Ben Olsen’s side from a playoff position, the team has done very little recently to show it is capable of making the MLS Cup playoffs. The team is banking on the recent additions of Lloyd Sam and Patrick Mullins to provide a spark, but they have yet to see dividends.

The Impact have lost just twice in their last 13 matches, and that could be trouble for the rest of the East. With Didier Drogba coming off of a hat-trick performance last weekend and Ignacio Piatti continuing his dominant efforts, the Impact are making a push for first place in the Eastern Conference.


The Union’s 5-1 defeat against the Impact last Saturday was far from ideal, but they’ll have to move past the beatdown that occurred as Real Salt Lake rolls into town. Roland Alberg has continued to impress since joining the Union, but the team’s backline must now hunker down and find stability.

RSL hasn’t won in over a month, and Jeff Cassar’s side desperately needs a win in order to stake its claim as a playoff team in the West. The RSL attack has posted just three goals in their last six games, something that must improve as the squad faces challenging Western Conference opponents down the stretch.

CHICAGO FIRE vs. NEW YORK RED BULLS (Sunday, 7 p.m., MLS Live)

The playoffs are a far stretch for the Fire this season, however, nine points only separate Veljko Paunovic’s group from sixth place in the East. David Accam and the attack needs to start pushing harder for goals, with the Fire only finding the back of the net 17 times this season.

The Red Bulls will have a ton of momentum coming into Sunday after their thrashing of NYCFC last weekend. Jesse Marsch’s side has found success throughout the season thanks to Sacha Kljestan’s 12 assists.


The Jason Kreis Era begins against the Revolution, and Orlando City needs a win in front of its home supporters to lift the cloud that has surrounded the team as of late. Orlando remains unbeaten at home this season (3-0-7), and that trend will have to continue if the Lions are to make the postseason.

With three straight results, the Revs look like a different team. It is too early to say that they have fixed all of their defensive issues, but the attack appears to be coming on strong with Kei Kamara and Lee Nguyen playing well.

TORONTO FC vs. COLUMBUS CREW (Sunday, 7:30 p.m., MLS Live)

Sebastian Giovinco woke up in a big way against D.C. United, and Greg Vanney will hope his star striker’s form continues against the Crew. With just one loss in eight matches at home this season, Toronto is likely primed for another three points, but only if Giovinco can continue to carry the offensive burden.

The Crew have recorded three straight ties, but those won’t mean much in the long run if the team cannot start turning those results into wins. Ola Kamara has been among the league’s top strikers since joining in 2016, but the team’s backline hasn’t done him or the attack any favors. The Crew have allowed 32 goals this season, which ranks seventh-worst in MLS.


The Dynamo haven’t played bad soccer recently, but results continue to be the biggest issue even after Owen Coyle’s exit as head coach. The Dynamo have managed just one win since May 15, and last place in the West appears to be their fate this season.

Two wins in their last 10 matches has the Earthquakes four points out of the playoffs. While Chris Wondolowski and Quincy Amarikwa have provided offensive sparks this season, the team hasn’t found consistency in the results department.


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