Several inter-conference matchups take center stage over the weekend as MLS hits Week 22.
Eastern Conference leaders New York City FC kick off the action when Patrick Vieira’s side heads west to meet the San Jose Earthquakes, while the New York Red Bulls also travels to California to take on the LA Galaxy.
Toronto FC looks to continue its great form of late against the New England Revolution on Saturday after having scored eight goals in their last three matches.
Out West, the Colorado Rapids are seeking a bounce-back performance against the Vancouver Whitecaps following their 5-1 road defeat against NYCFC last weekend.
Here is a full breakdown of the week 22 schedule:
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES vs. NEW YORK CITY FC (Friday, 11 p.m., UniMas)
With one win in their last 10 games, the Earthquakes need a result against NYCFC to re-establish themselves as a playoff contender in the West. Despite sitting just three points out of the final playoff spot, Dominic Kinnear’s side has struggled to put together consistent results largely because of the team’s inability to string together goals; just 23 in 21 matches.
NYCFC quickly erased its bitter defeat against the Red Bulls with a convincing win over one of the league’s best sides last Saturday. With three of its next four games on the road, and the LA Galaxy mixed in as well, NYCFC faces a critical juncture in its season if the Bronx club is to remain atop the East.
D.C. UNITED vs. PHILADELPHIA UNION (Saturday, 7 p.m., MLS Live)
Ben Olsen’s D.C. United did everything right against the Montreal Impact on Sunday, except win. Patrick Mullins’ first-half goal was a solid start for the former NYCFC striker, but D.C. will still need consistent production up front if the team is to turn the corner and secure a playoff spot.
The Union have lost four of their last six, however, a busy transfer season has the group looking like one of the league’s most talented sides; or at least on paper. After starting off the season strong, the Union backline has struggled as of late, conceding 13 goals since June 25.
TORONTO FC vs. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., MLS Live)
Greg Vanney’s side has found another gear as of late, although it isn’t completely unexpected given the form of Sebastian Giovinco. A midweek win against Real Salt Lake gave TFC its third straight win, pulling the team up to second place in the Eastern Conference. The recent return of Jozy Altidore, as well as Michael Bradley’s expected comeback are positive signs for the Canadian side, who could prove to be one of the more dangerous teams as the regular season winds down.
The Revs weren’t active where they needed to be in the transfer window, but they’ll have to make do with what they have. While the team still boasts some top attacking players, the Revolution’s 36 goals allowed in 2016 is the second-most allowed in the East. They will have to sort their defensive issues in order to sustain success, and that starts with shutting down Giovinco and co.
MONTREAL IMPACT vs. HOUSTON DYNAMO (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., MLS Live)
The Impact did well to battle back for a draw against D.C. United last weekend, but the Impact have to start getting wins as their schedule shifts to more Eastern Conference opponents. The tandem of Didier Drogba and Ignacio Piatti has been dangerous this season for the Canadian side, combining for 20 goals.
The play has been more consistent for the Dynamo since Wade Barrett took over as head coach, but the results still aren’t what the team needs. The Dynamo have tied six of their last nine matches, leaving the side at the bottom of the West as their goalscoring struggles continue.
COLORADO RAPIDS vs. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (Saturday, 9 p.m., MLS Live)
It was a shattering loss on the road for the Rapids, but Pablo Mastroeni’s group should quickly rebound after having their 15-match unbeaten streak halted. The acquisition of Sebastian Le Toux provides another offensive weapon for the Rapids, who have needed another spark in the attacking third.
Meanwhile, the Whitecaps are coming off of a 2-0 loss against FC Dallas, but still hold a playoff spot in the West. With just two wins in their last 10 games, the Whitecaps have had difficulty keeping goals out of their net. The Rapids are unbeaten at home this season, so the Whitecaps will have a difficult task at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
REAL SALT LAKE vs. CHICAGO FIRE (Saturday, 10 p.m., MLS Live)
RSL has faded a bit in the West after a hot start in 2016, but Jeff Cassar’s side remains fifth in the conference standings. Cassar’s group is one of five MLS remaining with an unbeaten home record, which gives RSL a distinct advantage at Rio Tinto.
While the Fire were probably unlucky to only secure a tie against the Red Bulls on Sunday, the Eastern Conference bottom dwellers have been far too inconsistent this season on both ends. The Fire have managed a mere 19 goals in 20 matches.
PORTLAND TIMBERS vs. SPORTING KC (Sunday, 4 p.m., ESPN)
These two sides met just last weekend and will now quickly turn around and face off again at Providence Park. The Timbers are in a major fight to reach the playoffs after coming out MLS Cup champions last season, while Sporting KC is beginning to find more consistency over the second half of the year.
ORLANDO CITY vs. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (Sunday, 7 p.m., Fox Sports 1)
The Jason Kreis era began with a positive start for Orlando City. Kevin Molino looks to be one of Lions’ biggest pieces moving forward, while Cyle Larin will need to continue his dominance if Orlando is to gain entry into the playoffs.
The Sounders put forth a strong effort against the Galaxy last weekend, earning a draw in the team’s first match without Sigi Schmid at the helm. The introduction of Designated Player Nicolas Lodeiro made a noticeable difference in the team’s attack, but the Sounder will have to get hot offensively if they are to make a playoff push.
LA GALAXY vs. NEW YORK RED BULLS (Sunday, 9:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1)
Bruce Arena’s side have gotten significantly better as the season has progressed, making the Galaxy a threat to not just the West but the entire league. The side boasts one of the most powerful attacks in MLS, led by Giovani dos Santos and Robbie Keane. The Galaxy are unbeaten in their last seven matches.
The Red Bulls disappointed on the road against the Fire last Sunday, but the team’s young guns showed a bright glimpse of the future midweek in the CONCACAF Champions League. The reigning Supporters’ Shield holders are four points out of the top spot in the East, and with two attacking-minded players added during the transfer window, the Red Bulls could become even more dangerous as the playoffs near.