Week 18 in Major League Soccer is a pseudo-rivalry week, as three of the league’s top rivalries take the national stage on Saturday.
Outside of the rivalry clashes, a few teams are looking to prove their Week 17 results weren’t flukes, and that they can either continue a surge up the standings, or erase a poor result out of the World Cup break.
Week 18, which begins on Friday in Minnesota, starts a busy stretch for MLS, as the games take place on Fourth of July midweek and a normal weekend slate follows.
Below is a look at what to watch for throughout Week 18.
Game of the Week
New York Red Bulls at Toronto FC (Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET, Fox)
Is this the week Toronto FC finally turns it around?
Yes, we’re contractually obliged to ask that before every Toronto game now because of the hope it has dug for itself.
The Reds are mired in the bottom of the Eastern Conference with three wins since the start of May.
Another high-profile opponent awaits Greg Vanney’s side in the form of the New York Red Bulls on Sunday.
Jesse Marsch’s side has one loss since April 28, and most of the talk surrounding the manager’s potential departure has calmed down.
Sunday’s clash should see the present and future of the U.S. Men’s National Team square off, as Michael Bradley and Tyler Adams look to control the middle of the park.
Other Games to Watch
Portland Timbers at Seattle Sounders (Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET, Fox)
The first of three nationally televised games on Saturday is one of the best rivalry clashes in the league.
Portland won the first Cascadia Cup showdown with Seattle on May 13, and it appears to be in good shape to take a second victory from the rave green at CenturyLink Field.
The Timbers enter on a nine-game unbeaten run following a 1-1 draw in Atlanta, but Seattle could benefit off the wave of momentum created by the impending announcement of Raul Ruidiaz’s signing.
Clint Dempsey, who himself had a big unveiling as a Sounders forward, can become the club’s top regular-season scorer in MLS play with a goal on Saturday.
Orlando City at Atlanta United (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN)
The last time MLS’ southeast rivals squared off on May 13, Orlando City entered on a six-game winning streak.
Since losing to Atlanta United, the Lions lost six more games and fired Jason Kreis.
With three of their next four games on the road, the Lions need some time of spark to save their season, and there’s no better remedy than a rivalry victory.
The Five Stripes alternated draws and wins in their last five games and Saturday begins a tough stretch featuring three games in one week.
In the four matches between the two sides, the home team hasn’t won.
Philadelphia Union at LAFC (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
It’s time for Philadelphia to prove it’s for real.
The Union thrashed Vancouver in Week 17 and they’ve been on the verge of earning a major result that brings them more respect across the league.
Saturday’s visit to Banc of California Stadium is the perfect opportunity for that, but it won’t be an easy against a high-flying LAFC squad.
Bob Bradley’s team is in solid form with three straight wins in all competitions, including a total domination of the Columbus Crew in Week 17.
Even without Carlos Vela and Marco Urena, LAFC’s attack is dynamic, and new signing Adama Diomande’s slotted in perfectly alongside Diego Rossi, as the pair of Concacaf stars are out on World Cup duty.
The game could be won on the flanks, as experienced full backs Jordan Harvey and Steven Beitashour look to shut down the Union’s pacy wingers from opening up play.
FC Dallas at Minnesota United (Friday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
On paper, FC Dallas should go into TCF Bank Stadium and take down Minnesota United.
Even though Oscar Pareja’s side is coming off a deflating loss to the New York Red Bulls, in which it had a man advantage, it should be able to overwhelm the Loons back line with pressure created by Maxi Urruti, Mauro Diaz, Michael Barrios and Roland Lamah.
The Loons looked dangerous on occasion with Darwin Quintero packing an extra punch in the final third, but their defense is still the issue after conceding on three occasions to Colorado in Week 17.
Sporting Kansas City at Montreal Impact (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, TVA Sport, ESPN+)
There’s no such thing as a routine road trip to grab three points in MLS, but Sporting Kansas City’s trip up to Quebec might be the closest thing to that.
Peter Vermes’ side is cruising at the top of the Western Conference on a seven-game unbeaten run, while the Montreal Impact need to prove they can beat someone other than lowly Orlando before we take them seriously.
Sporting KC carries a five-game unbeaten streak against the Impact into Saturday, and look for Roger Espinoza and Ilie to control the game while providing chances for the free-flowing attack that’s scored seven goals in the club’s last two wins.
Real Salt Lake at Columbus Crew (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
The Crew need to find a way to bounce back from the drubbing delivered to them by LAFC in Week 17.
Gregg Berhalter’s side has played the most games of any MLS side, and all of a sudden a drop in form is concerning, as it’s without a win since May 19.
The last three games between Real Salt Lake and the Crew have featured at least four goals in each meeting, with a total of 15 netted.
RSL enters off two disappointing results, a loss to the Galaxy and a draw with the Earthquakes.
D.C. United at New England Revolution (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
The buzz surrounding D.C. United is starting to pick up, but the Black and Red still have two games remaining before the Wayne Rooney spectacular at Audi Field opens.
The reality of the situation for D.C. is it sits at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with two wins through 12 games, and it won’t get much better against New England.
The Revolution are still flying under the radar in fifth place, and they’ve been treading water recently for four draws in five games.
Saturday presents Brad Friedel’s side with a perfect opportunity to put another number in the win column before a busy next few weeks.
New York City FC at Chicago Fire (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Chicago appears like it’s finally starting to figure things out after injuries tore apart Veljko Paunovic’s squad selection at the start of the season.
The Fire haven’t lost since May 20 and have benefited from unlikely contributors like Brandt Bronico, who has three assists in June.
Even with David Villa out with an injury issue, New York City FC should be able to create a wealth of chances, as it proved against Toronto a week ago.
Jo Inge Berget will be the focal point of the attack, with Ismael Tajouri-Shradi and Maxi Moralez hungry to finish chances in front of the net as well.
LA Galaxy at San Jose Earthquakes (Saturday, 10 p.m. ET, UniMas)
The Galaxy won the first Cali Clasico of the season through a late Romain Alessandrini strike.
Although the late drama is expected, a 1-0 score like we saw on May 25 is rare for the rivalry showdown between the Galaxy and Quakes.
The Galaxy should control the contest, as they’ve corrected their poor form from the start of the season, while the Quakes are mired the same rut they’ve been in since the 2018 campaign began.
Colorado Rapids at Vancouver Whitecaps (Sunday, 7 p.m. ET, TSN, ESPN+)
We’re required to say something nice about the Colorado Rapids this week since they beat Minnesota in Week 17.
Vancouver looked more like the Rapids usually do last week in its 4-0 loss to the Union, and Carl Robinson is going to demand a much better performance at BC Place on Sunday.
The Whitecaps won the first meeting between the two sides on June 1 and they haven’t lost in the last five clashes with the Rapids.