The spring swing of Major League Soccer continues with five matches taking place between Wednesday and Thursday.
Headlining midweek action is Thursday’s lone fixture, between LAFC and FC Dallas at Banc of California Stadium. Bob Bradley’s men returned to winning ways with a 3-0 triumph in Columbus last weekend while FC Dallas fell at home to the New York Red Bulls.
Elsewhere, Wayne Rooney and D.C. United travel to Toronto FC on Wednesday while the Houston Dynamo host the Portland Timbers. Orlando City faces a tough test at Seattle in one of two late matchups, while Atlanta United takes on the Vancouver Whitecaps in the other.
Here’s a closer look at this week’s MLS action:
LAFC vs. FC Dallas – Thursday, 10 p.m. (ESPN+)
10 points separate these sides in the West standings with LAFC returning home at a good time.
A 3-0 thumping of the Crew at Mafpre Stadium saw Carlos Vela get back to his best with a clinical late finish. The Mexican playmaker has been huge for LAFC’s success so far but the play of midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye and Eduard Atuesta have been just as important. This duo will have a big role to play in shutting down FC Dallas’ midfielders while also contributing to the attack.
FC Dallas has suffered back-to-back losses for the first time under Luchi Gonzalez and will not find Thursday’s contest easy. Jesus Ferreira has done well in attack but the team needs other players to contribute goals. Pablo Aranguiz and Santiago Mosquera are the likely sources offensively.
Toronto FC vs. D.C. United – Wednesday, 8 p.m. (ESPN+)
A pair of Eastern Conference clubs meet at BMO Field heading in different directions in the standings.
Hosts Toronto FC have lost two straight but will have Jozy Altidore ready to go for 90 minutes. The USMNT striker came off the bench in a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Union, but should provide a physical presence in attack with his return. Alejandro Pozuelo continues to be a livewire in midfield after scoring his latest goal last weekend.
D.C. United have won two straight, including Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Sporting KC. Paul Arriola’s beautiful strike sealed three points for Ben Olsen’s side which keeps them level with the Union in the East. Wednesday’s match will be tough for D.C. but expect them to come home with at least a point.
Dynamo vs. Timbers – Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
Both the Houston Dynamo and Portland Timbers will be aiming to bounce back from weekend defeats.
Wilmer Cabrera’s bunch fell 1-0 to the Seattle Sounders in which they recorded only one shot on goal. Romell Quioto’s return gives Cabrera another option to consider in attack, which has truly been the Mauro Manotas show only of late.
Portland saw a three-match winning streak snapped after a 1-0 loss at BC Place last Friday. The Timbers were not clinical in front of goal, forcing only five shots on goal out of 27 in total. Diego Valeri needs to take more chances in front of goal, while defensively the Timbers may need to keep their defenders at home in order to deal with Houston’s counter-attack.
Whitecaps vs. Atlanta United – Wednesday, 10 p.m. (ESPN+)
Don’t look now but the defending MLS Champs are rising up the table.
Atlanta United come to BC Place with a four-match winning streak which saw Pity Martinez play the hero last weekend. The Argentine scored his first MLS goal in a 1-0 triumph over Orlando City. Michael Parkhurst and Darlington Nagbe will remain in Atlanta for rest so Brek Shea and Jeff Larentowicz should get the starts after coming off the bench on Sunday.
Marc Dos Santos has the Whitecaps playing better of late, winning two of their last three matches. A 3-2 win over Colorado and a 1-0 triumph over Portland has seen numerous players open their scoring accounts for the season. Fredy Montero (three goals) is the danger man up top.
Sounders vs. Orlando City – Wednesday, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
The final match on Wednesday’s slate comes from CenturyLink Field as the Sounders welcome slumping Orlando City to town.
Cristian Roldan registered his third goal of the season in a win over the Dynamo, proving he can chip in some goals. The USMNT midfielder will be crucial in this contest as well while Nicolas Lodeiro and Jordan Morris also provide attacking options.
Orlando City has failed to score in back-to-back matches but should have Nani available. The Portuguese midfielder has five goals since coming to MLS but missed Sunday’s trip to Atlanta. Chris Mueller could get the start over the struggling Dom Dwyer.
Seattle has won three of its four all-time meeting with Orlando City.