It shouldn’t come as a total shock that FC Dallas is involved in a marquee match this weekend because its been featured in plenty of top-notch contests early in 2017. This time, Oscar Pareja’s men face Sporting Kansas City in a top-of-the-table clash that highlights the weekend’s action in Major League Soccer.
Over in the Eastern Conference, four of the top six teams in the standings face off against each other and one early contender will look to prove its worth against a perennial favorite that is off to a slow start.
Here’s a look at the entire weekend slate in MLS:
Chicago Fire at Toront0 FC (Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET, TSN, MLS Live)
The first three games of the Bastian Schweinsteiger era have handed the Chicago Fire a nice boost in form, with two wins and a draw, but their first real test comes in the form of Toronto FC at BMO Field on Friday night. Not only has Schweinsteiger starred for Chicago, offseason acquisition Nemanja Nikolic has found the back of the net four times, and he’ll need to get in behind the Toronto back line to keep the Fire alive.
Toronto has stumbled out of the blocks in 2017 with one win, one loss and four draws from six contests. It’s not an ideal record, but it could also be much worse. The Reds are due to breakout at any time and a home game to start the MLS weekend could be the time they put it all together and put the league on notice once again.
Montreal Impact at Philadelphia Union (Saturday, 1 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
The clash of Eastern Conference bottom feeders carries plenty of importance given where both the Montreal Impact and Philadelphia Union sit at this stage of the campaign. The Impact got their first win on a late Anthony Jackson-Hamel goal against Atlanta United a week ago, but the failure to secure three points until the final stages of stoppage time while up a man leave some concerns out there.
All hope is not officially lost with the Union yet, but it’s getting dangerously close to becoming a lost season after plenty of promise was shown in 2016. The Union have failed to record a single point in the first two games of their three-game homestand, and if they can’t defeat the Impact, things will get uglier.
San Jose Earthquakes at Houston Dynamo (Saturday, 3:55 p.m. ET, UniMas)
Fresh off earning a point at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, the San Jose Earthquakes head to BBVA Compass Stadium for a clash with the Houston Dynamo. Dominic Kinnear’s men have displayed a flair for the dramatic at home in recent weeks, but in order to make up for the points dropped in draws with the Seattle Sounders and FC Dallas, the Quakes need another point on the road on Saturday.
The Dynamo surprisingly dropped two points at home against Minnesota United last weekend. One of the positives that came out of the 2-2 draw was the play of Mauro Manotas, who scored in the first half. With Manotas now gaining confidence, the Dynamo have four capable forward players to challenge opposing defenses.
Vancouver Whitecaps at Portland Timbers (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, CTV, MLS Live)
The opening installment of the rivalry could be a goal-filled thriller based off the 2016 results between the Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers. Fourteen goals were scored in three matches between the regional rivals a year ago, but one main scorer will be absent from Saturday’s match, as Fanendo Adi is serving a one-game suspension.
Even though Adi is out, the Whitecaps will still have plenty to worry about on defense, with Diego Valeri, Sebastian Blanco and Darlington Nagbe roaming the final third. The Whitecaps are one of six teams with more than 10 goals conceded in the young season. A shutout against a Portland team trying to recover from a home loss to Sporting Kansas City isn’t impossible, but it’ll be tough to achieve.
D.C. United at New England Revolution (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
D.C. United has dominated the New England Revolution in recent years. The Black and Red played 270 minutes of perfect defensive soccer against Jay Heaps’ side in 2016 with seven points to show from the three matches. D.C.’s last loss to the Revs came on May 24, 2014 at Gillette Stadium.
The Revs played well on Wednesday against the Quakes, but it wasn’t good enough to pick up three points. Dropping points in consecutive home matches would be a big blow to the confidence of the Revs, who have struggled to earn positive results on their travels in 2017.
Columbus Crew at New York Red Bulls (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., MLS Live)
The best team in the Eastern Conference will look to make a statement at Red Bull Arena on Saturday night against the team that appears to finally have things figured out. The Crew are led by Justin Meram, who has established himself as an under the radar early-season MVP candidate. The Iraq international has four goals and two assists so far this season, with his latest strike coming against Toronto last week.
The Red Bulls finally broke out of their slump against rival D.C. United on Saturday. Now, it’s about continuing the form and finding a consistent rhythm as the second month of the season begins to come to a close. Despite a rough start to the year, Jesse Marsch’s men have 10 points and sit fifth in the East. A win over the Crew would boost them further up the table and into the Supporters’ Shield discussion.
Sporting Kansas City at FC Dallas (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
The marquee matchup of the weekend comes from Toyota Stadium, where Sporting Kansas City, fresh off a road win in Portland, takes on FC Dallas. Peter Vermes’ side made a statement with its 1-0 win at Providence Park a week ago, and a win in Frisco would give it as a second impressive road scalp.
It’s been business as usual so far for FC Dallas, sitting in third in the Western Conference and with the second-highest points per game mark at 2.2. Only Orlando City at 2.4 has a higher total in that department. FC Dallas had some troubles with Sporting KC a year ago, as they only picked up two points from three contests.
Atlanta United at Real Salt Lake (Saturday, 9:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
While the clash in Frisco is easily the best match in terms of quality and positioning in the table, the late Saturday night match in Sandy, Utah has the potential to produce plenty of fireworks. Atlanta is coming off a loss in Montreal while being down a man, but for the most part, it’s shown well on its four-game road swing.
Real Salt Lake has finally found its footing under Mike Petke, earning two consecutive victories under the former Red Bulls boss. Brooks Lennon and Albert Rusnak have been the standout stars of the last two weeks for the Claret and Cobalt, and if they can defend home turf again, they’ll be right back in the mix for playoff positions in the West.
Orlando City at New York City FC (Sunday, 1:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1)
The match of the week in the East takes place at Yankee Stadium, with Orlando City looking to claim the top spot in the standings against fourth-place New York City FC. Cyle Larin, as expected, is in blistering form in front of the net for the Lions, who are thriving in Jason Kreis’ first full season in charge. The entire Lions attack should have no problem challenging the NYCFC defense on the narrow field in the Bronx.
NYCFC recovered from a poor performance in D.C. with a road win Philadelphia, highlighted by David Villa’s masterpiece from midfield. Patrick Vieira’s men have lost their last two games to Orlando, and they only pulled one point out of three matches in 2016. With a little rivalry developing between the third-year clubs, look for this match to pack plenty of standout moments.
Seattle Sounders at LA Galaxy (4 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Both the Sounders and Galaxy have a bit to prove in the clash of Western Conference titans at StubHub Center on Sunday in front of a national audience. The Sounders haven’t received a ton of criticism for their slow start, and most think it’s only a matter of time before the Nicolas Lodeiro-led attack erupts and finds its form.
The Galaxy are under the microscope in a major way, with Curt Onalfo failing to produce success right away after replacing Bruce Arena. Romain Alessandrini has been a bright spot for the Galaxy, who enter Sunday with a 1-2-0 home record. A third home loss this early in the season would force the Galaxy to recover more points than expected on the road later in the year.
Colorado Rapids at Minnesota United (Sunday, 6 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
The first team to play Minnesota United twice is a side that is quite familiar with the personnel in the Loons lineup. The Rapids drew, 2-2, with the expansion side in March and made a deal that sent Sam Cronin and Marc Burch to Minnesota shortly thereafter. You would think scoring against the league’s worst defense would be easy for the Rapids, but they only have four points from five matches.
Minnesota impressed with its fight in a 2-2 draw in Houston a week ago. With momentum on their side and a hot Christian Ramirez manning the attack, the Loons could be in position to win their second game at home. Ramirez and Kevin Molino have developed an instant chemistry, and if Minnesota scores on Sunday, it will most likely be because of the duo.
There has been criticism of the Sounders here.
Lodeiro has not been good enough.
Dempsey is dropping too far back.
The Sounders really only have two guys that will most likely score and Morris hasn’t been good enough/dangerous enough.
On the defensive side, make them earn the goals. Too many mistakes letting teams into games.
If they can’t carve up LA, they need to make some changes as they should be one of the best teams…they aren’t yet.