The race for the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs continues to heat up with some entertaining matches in this weekend’s slate of action.
In the highly-contested Western Conference, a pair of top eight sides meet in the Pacific Northwest on Sunday. The Portland Timbers welcome Minnesota United to Providence Park looking to jump above the red line.
Giovanni Savarese’s side has lost back-to-back matches to Eastern Conference competition and will look to turn the tide. Minnesota United is in third place and looking more and more likely to clinch a first-ever playoff berth in club history. Adrian Heath’s side has alternated wins and losses in their last four matches.
Elsewhere, two Eastern Conference rivals meet in New Jersey on Sunday as the New York Red Bulls host the Philadelphia Union, D.C. United welcomes the Seattle Sounders to Audi Field also on Sunday, while FC Dallas puts a strong home record to the test against NYCFC.
Here’s a closer look at this weekend’s top five MLS matches:
Portland Timbers vs. Minnesota United – Sunday, 3:55 p.m. (ESPN)
The Portland Timbers will try to turn the tide this weekend after back-to-back defeats.
After being shut out in the last two matches, Giovanni Savarese may look to freshen his attack against Minnesota United. Brian Fernandez, Diego Valeri, and Jeremy Ebobisse were all silenced against the Red Bulls in a 2-0 midweek loss. A win paired with other results this weekend could see the Timbers jump into a playoff spot for now, but a home defeat will surely hurt with two weeks left to play.
The Loons are in third place and will try to further pad their spot for postseason play. Wins over LAFC and Real Salt Lake in the last three matches surely has Adrian Heath’s side full of confidence ahead of a trip to Portland. A healthy Darwin Quintero is a major boost for the Loons in attack, adding another piece to a solid offensive unit.
New York Red Bulls vs. Philadelphia Union – Sunday, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
A pair of East Coast rivals will meet on Sunday night at Red Bull Arena.
The Philadelphia Union take the trip up I-95 to face the New York Red Bulls for the final time this regular season. Jim Curtin’s side are five points back of first place NYCFC, but know a win on the road will clinch them a home playoff match with two weeks remaining. Kacper Przybylko continues to be one of MLS’ underrated strikers this season and will be eager to get after the Red Bulls on the road.
New York snapped a three-match losing streak on Wednesday after earning a 2-0 road win in Portland. Kyle Duncan and Daniel Royer got on the scoresheet at Providence Park in what proved to be a needed three points for the Red Bulls. Chris Armas’ side are seven points clear of eighth placed Montreal and would love to exact revenge against the Union following a 3-2 road loss back in June.
D.C. United vs. Seattle Sounders – Sunday, 8 p.m. (ESPN+)
Sunday night’s final match comes from Audi Field as D.C. United tries to knock off the Seattle Sounders.
Ben Olsen’s side has picked up back-to-back shutout wins which is coming at a crucial part of the regular season. Now returning home, the Black and Red will try to silence a Sounders attack that has several options for goals. Ola Kamara has two goals in his last two appearances for D.C. and Wayne Rooney will remain a threat in front of goal for the remainder of the season.
Seattle has picked up points in their last two matches as they try to remain above the red line in the West. Nicolas Lodeiro and Jordan Morris headline the dynamic Sounders attack after both getting on the scoresheet last weekend against the Red Bulls. The duo has 16 league goals between them this campaign and will be important down the stretch for Brian Schmetzer’s side.
FC Dallas vs. NYCFC – Sunday, 6 p.m. (ESPN+)
Another interconference matchup on Sunday sees NYCFC travel to FC Dallas.
Domenec Torrent’s side has clinched a playoff berth and will now look to lock up the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. NYCFC comes into the match riding a seven-match unbeaten streak with only one of those being a draw (Sept. 11th vs. TFC). Alexandru Mitrita is the man to watch for NYCFC in this contest, scoring in three of his last four appearances.
FC Dallas is a point clear of eighth place Portland in the West, but may need three points for any chance of feeling relieved by weekend’s end. A 9-5-1 home record this season is good for fourth-best in the West and Luchi Gonzalez will hope a 10th win comes in quick fashion. After being blanked in back-to-back road matches, Dallas may need strong performances from Paxton Pomykal and Brandon Servania to knock off the East leaders.
Atlanta United vs. San Jose Earthquakes – Saturday, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
Saturday’s early contest comes from the home of the defending MLS Champions.
Atlanta United faces the San Jose Earthquakes in a showdown which could see plenty of goals at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Josef Martinez’s brace at Nippert Stadium helped the Five Stripes earn a 2-0 road win over FC Cincinnati and remain in the race for a No. 1 seed. Martinez has 26 goals this season and remains the favorite to claim the 2019 Golden Boot with four matches left.
Matias Almeyda’s side will not back down to the defending champs as they look for their first-ever win over the Five Stripes. A pair of back-to-back defeats has the Quakes the underdogs heading into the weekend, but led by veteran Chris Wondolowski they can pull the upset. Wondo has five goals in his last four appearances and could be key down the final stretch of the season, starting on Saturday.
Here’s this weekend’s full MLS schedule:
- Atlanta United vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 3:30 p.m. (Univision)
- Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Columbus Crew, 5 p.m. (ESPN+)
- FC Cincinnati vs. Chicago Fire, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
- New England Revolution vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
- Sporting KC vs. Colorado Rapids, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
- FC Dallas vs. FC Cincinnati, 8 p.m. (ESPN+)
- Houston Dynamo vs. Orlando City, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
- Vancouver Whitecaps vs. NYCFC, 10 p.m. (ESPN+)
- LAFC vs. Toronto FC, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
- L.A. Galaxy vs. Montreal Impact, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
- Portland Timbers vs. Minnesota United, 3:55 p.m. (ESPN)
- FC Dallas vs. NYCFC, 6 p.m. (UniMas)
- New York Red Bulls vs. Philadelphia Union, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
- D.C. United vs. Seattle Sounders, 8 p.m. (ESPN+)