Major League Soccer’s shortened Week 4 slate may be overshadowed by the international break and the countdown to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s debut next week, but there’s still some intrigue surrounding Saturday’s games.
The trio of Western Conference matchups faces a striker reuniting with his old team, a hot attack looking to extend its fantastic start and a club attempting to bounce back after a tumultuous trip down South.
Over in the Eastern Conference, two fast-starting clubs return to the field, while another club continues to prepare for the CONCACAF Champions League with an inter-conference game against an upstart squad.
Here’s a look at the six games being played in MLS Week 4.
New York City FC at New England Revolution (Saturday, 1:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
Even without David Villa, New York City FC’s looked like the best team in MLS so far.
Patrick Vieira’s undefeated side heads to Gillette Stadium on Saturday to face a New England Revolution team still working out the kinks under first-year manager Brad Friedel.
In addition to Villa dealing with an injury, Alex Ring and Rodney Wallace aren’t available for selection due to international duty.
In each of the last four games between NYCFC and the Revs, at least three goals have been scored. The last clean sheet in the series was earned by NYC in Foxborough on July 6, 2016.
Portland Timbers at FC Dallas (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, UniMas)
The Maxi Urruti derby takes place on the national stage during Saturday’s shortened slate.
Urruti, who scored 15 goals in three seasons during his time in Portland, has one goal and two assists in five meetings with the Timbers as an FC Dallas player.
The Argentinian is coming off a strong performance against Seattle, one FC Dallas needed as a team to bounce back from a brutal start to the 2018 campaign.
Portland, who will be without David Guzman and Andy Polo because of international commitments, has zero points and a -5 goal differential from two games.
D.C. United at Columbus Crew (Saturday, 6 p.m. ET)
Columbus returns to Mapfre Stadium for its third home game in four contests to start the season.
The undefeated Crew won both of their meetings with D.C. United in 2017 by a 2-0 scoreline, and they’re looking to put together their second straight shutout of the season with Logan Ketterer starting in place of Zack Steffen.
With injuries and international duty diminishing Ben Olsen’s lineup selection pool, we could see Ian Harkes and Chris Durkin together in midfield, with the normal front four of Darren Mattocks, Paul Arriola, Yamil Asad and Luciano Acosta in place.
Minnesota United at New York Red Bulls (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
Minnesota United looks like a completely different team from the start of last season, and the Loons have achieved that even with the loss of Kevin Molino to a torn ACL.
Ethan Finlay has been one of the best American players in MLS in 2018, with two goals and an assist in three games. With the combination of Finlay, Sam Nicholson and Miguel Ibarra, the Loons may have found a solution to replace Molino’s presence.
The New York Red Bulls come into Saturday off a road defeat to Real Salt Lake.
Saturday’s game and Week 5’s trip to Orlando will be used as preparation for the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals for the Red Bulls.
Sporting Kansas City at Colorado Rapids (Saturday, 9 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
The home team has won the last four games between Sporting Kansas City and the Colorado Rapids, with the Rapids taking three of those contests.
Each of the last three Rapids wins over Sporting KC have been of the 1-0 variety, and that could be the result Saturday if Anthony Hudson’s team lock in on defense.
However, they’ll face a difficult task defending Sporting KC’s attack, which has gained steam in March, with Felipe Gutierrez leading the charge with three goals.
LA Galaxy at Vancouver Whitecaps (Saturday, 10 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
Sadly, we’ll have to wait for another time to see Zlatan Ibrahimovic play on the turf at BC Place and avoid tackles from Felipe.
Even without Ibrahimovic in the fold, the clash between the LA Galaxy and Vancouver Whitecaps provides intrigue.
Vancouver is looking to bounce back from a brutal outing in Atlanta, while the Galaxy are gearing up for next week’s LA derby.
With Ola Kamara on international duty with Norway and the Dos Santos brothers out injured, the Galaxy may have trouble creating chances, even with Kendall Waston out of the Whitecaps lineup.