Ten straight hours of Major League Soccer action comes your way on Saturday, as Week 3 presents a wide array of intriguing showdowns.
The first 401 derby of the season takes place north of the border, while a handful of inter-conference matchups provide intrigue.
There’s also a renewing of hostilities for one of the league’s top players against a club he ravaged at his former home, and a reunion between one of the league’s top coaches and the team that ditched him a few years back.
Here’s a deeper look at each of the nine games on the MLS Week 3 schedule.
Houston Dynamo at D.C. United (Saturday, 1:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
There are few things more unique in MLS than St. Patrick’s Day at the Soccerplex.
The Dynamo travel to the I-95 corridor to face D.C. United, but not in the nation’s capitol, as the Maryland Soccerplex, which normally plays host to D.C.’s U.S. Open Cup matches, takes in both teams as Audi Field’s construction finishes up.
The Dynamo went into D.C. a year ago and took away a 3-1 victory behind goals from Andrew Wenger, Mauro Manotas and Memo Rodriguez.
D.C. hasn’t beaten the Dynamo since October 12, 2014.
Chicago Fire at Minnesota United (Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
Life without Kevin Molino begins for Minnesota United on Saturday, but there’s still plenty to be hopeful for in Loons land.
Ethan Finlay scored twice in the Week 2 win over Orlando, Mason Toye shined off the bench and the pursuit of Darwin Quintero continues.
Chicago enters on the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, as it fell 4-3 at home to Sporting Kansas City. However, Nemanja Nikolic did score a brace in the Week 2 defeat.
Columbus Crew at Philadelphia Union (Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
One of the most intriguing battles of Week 3 takes place in the middle of the park at Talen Energy Stadium.
The Crew’s Wil Trapp and Artur go head-to-head with Philadelphia’s Alejandro Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin, with new Union No. 10 Borek Dockal expected to make his debut.
The Crew come into the contest on the heels of two victories, but they’ve lost four of their last five games against the Union.
Toronto FC at Montreal Impact (Saturday, 3 p.m. ET, MLS Live, CTV)
The first 401 Derby week of the season comes with plenty of pre-match trash talk.
Toronto FC forward Tosaint Ricketts made his feelings known about Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Thursday.
Tosaint Ricketts on playing in the Big O: “That place is garbage.” #TFCLive
— Joshua Kloke (@joshuakloke) March 15, 2018
What has been trash this season is Montreal’s play in the first half. The Impact came alive in the second half against the Whitecaps and Crew, but they can’t afford another slow start against their Eastern Canadian rival, who is coming off a CONCACAF Champions League triumph over Tigres.
Orlando City at New York City FC (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, Univision)
The first panic button watch of the 2018 season is on in Orlando.
The passionate purple-clad Orlando City supporters watched the Lions drop points in their first two games, and now they have to go up to Yankee Stadium for an afternoon matinee with New York City FC.
Sacha Kljestan, who returns from suspension to make his Orlando debut, has one goal and 10 assists in his career against the ol’ ballclub on the blue side of New York.
The home-run offseason transaction by the Lions should be able to round the base of the NYCFC defense on a few occasions, but he can’t afford to strike out with Jason Kreis’ side in need of a victory.
Vancouver Whitecaps at Atlanta United (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live, TSN2)
The Whitecaps heading across the continent to take on Atlanta in front of a large crowd seems like an unfavorable weekend in the South, but because this is MLS, this might be the game of the weekend.
As we do every season, we’re already sleeping on the Whitecaps despite earning six points from two games.
Atlanta United is buzzing after finally earning their first win over D.C. a week ago, and while the South American stars take center stage, look for Julian Gressel and Jeff Larentowicz to once again be the X-factors for the Five Stripes.
San Jose Earthquakes at Sporting Kansas City (Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
Sporting Kansas City and the San Jose Earthquakes benefited from a two-goal performance in their first victories of the season.
Danny Hoesen bagged a pair of goals in Week 1 for the new-look Quakes, but Week 3 presents Mikael Stahre’s team with its first road test.
Felipe Gutierrez rescued Sporting Kansas City after its defense went up in flames against Chicago.
Both defenses have plenty to prove as well since they’ve combined to concede seven goals over three games.
New York Red Bulls at Real Salt Lake (Saturday, 9 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
The inaugural Mike Petke derby features a New York Red Bulls team that Real Salt Lake aspires to beat in terms of youth development.
Jesse Marsch’s side flexed its depth in its win over the Timbers in Week 2 before taking down Club Tijuana in the CONCACAF Champions League.
The Red Bulls appear to be ahead of everyone in the development race, and they’ll try to prove that once again in Week 3 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
However, don’t count out the Claret and Cobalt’s young core, as they look to rebound from a drubbing at home at the hands of LAFC.
Seattle Sounders at FC Dallas (Sunday, 5 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
The Sounders stumble into Toyota Stadium with a roster as broken as FC Dallas’ form.
Will Bruin and Chad Marshall were pulled from the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal second leg against Chivas with first-half injuries, while Jordan Morris just had surgery for his torn ACL.
In any other week, Brian Schmetzer’s team might be susceptible to a poor result, but FC Dallas has given us little reason to trust it until it puts together a comprehensive performance.
If Oscar Pareja’s men drop their second result at home this season, the panic button might be within reach, but FC Dallas still sits behind Orlando in the panic button power rankings.