Week 1 of the 2017 season has come and gone, and it certainly wasn’t without its share of drama (sorry Atlanta United fans). But alas, it’s time to turn our attention to Week 2, and there are some great games to look forward to!
Best game of the week: Minnesota United FC v. Atlanta United – Sunday March 12, 5:00pm ET, ESPN 2
Okay, this one is sort of the best game of the week by default. It’s the first time the two expansion sides meet and is the home opener for MNUFC. There will be plenty of intrigue as these two clubs will be forever linked since they entered MLS together. As far as the soccer itself goes, ATLUTD has the strong advantage. I expect Atlanta to come away with the win and avenge their late Week 1 collapse, but MNUFC will do all they can to take their home opener after an embarrassing 5-1 loss on the road to the Timbers.
Worst game of the week: San Jose Earthquakes v. Vancouver Whitecaps – Saturday March 11, 10:00pm ET, MLS Live
Neither of these two teams look like serious contenders in the strong Western Conference, and a late-night start for anyone not on the West Coast doesn’t do much to help the lure of this game. Vancouver struggled all last week against the Philadelphia Union. The Earthquakes squeaked out a 1-0 victory over Montreal, but they didn’t exactly look like a powerhouse while doing so. I would expect this game to be about as enjoyable as the Vancouver-Philly game of Week 1. (Hint: It wasn't fun to watch.)
Saturday, March 11
Chicago Fire v. Real Salt Lake – 2:00pm ET, MLS Live
The Chicago Fire were a trendy team coming off the best offseason by any team in MLS. Newcomer Nemanja Nikolić was picked by some as a challenger for the 2017 Golden Boot, but he wasn’t able to find the back of the net in a disappointing Week 1 draw against Columbus. RSL drew 0-0 with a very strong Toronto FC side, and will once again make it difficult for the Fire’s new DP to score. Don’t be surprised if this is another low scoring defensive battle.
New England Revolution v. Orlando City – 2:00pm ET, MLS Live
UPDATE: This game has been postponed due to extreme weather in New England. It has been rescheduled for September 2. But here’s what I would have said about this game…
Orlando City opened up their gorgeous new stadium last week with a great 1-0 victory against a good NYCFC team. (Honestly, that stadium is absolutely beautiful and might be the best in MLS.) Sadly for OCSC, this game is almost the polar opposite of their Week 1 matchup in every way. They go from playing in a brand new, soccer specific stadium to playing in arguably the worst stadium situation in MLS (now that D.C. is finally getting out of RFK). Instead of facing a team that could fight for the Supporters’ Shield, Orlando City is now playing one of the weaker teams in MLS. The Revs lost to Colorado last week, and even though OCSC will be without Brazilian superstar Kaka, I don’t think New England will do much better this week. The Revs just seem to be stuck in all aspects of the club, on the field and off. My question is how long will it take for owner Bob Kraft to look up from his fifth Super Bowl trophy to see that his MLS team is floundering?
New York Red Bulls v. Colorado Rapids – 4:00pm ET, UniMás
The Red Bulls should be feeling pretty good after spoiling Atlanta United’s coming out party. RBNY looked disorganized in the first half of their match with ATLUTD, but two second half goals had the Red Bulls looking like one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference like many predicted. Colorado beat the New England Revolution 1-0, but that doesn’t say much. The Revs aren’t going to be good this year, and we all knew that Colorado had perhaps the best defense in MLS. Watching the Red Bulls high powered offense go against this stout Rapids defense will definitely be something to watch.
Philadelphia Union v. Toronto FC – 4:30pm ET, MLS Live
Both Philadelphia and Toronto FC wound up in scoreless draws in Week 1 against Vancouver and RSL respectively. The Union finishing a game scoreless isn’t a huge shock, but there will be very few games this year where Toronto doesn’t get at least one goal. I fully expect Toronto to right the ship this week and come out strong against the Union. Philadelphia will want to build on their modest success last year, and a victory against the reigning Eastern Conference champions would go a long way for confidence, but I think Toronto FC is just too strong for this Philadelphia side.
Montreal Impact v. Seattle Sounders FC – 7:00pm ET, MLS Live
Both Montreal and Seattle were looked at as virtual playoff locks before the season started, and surprisingly both teams lost their first games of the year to seemingly weaker sides. Neither team’s fans should overreact, though. Both of these teams are very good and should find themselves in the postseason at season’s end. This will be an entertaining, and potentially high scoring match. Nacho Piatti will look to redeem himself for Montreal after a lackluster Week 1 performance, and a Sounders attack led by Nico Lodeiro, Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris will prove challenging for the Impact’s defense to stop.
Houston Dynamo v. Columbus Crew SC – 8:30pm ET, MLS Live
Houston surprised a lot of people around the league when they defeated the defending champs 2-1 at home. This Dynamo team (affectionately called the Dynamosaurs by the Total MLS staff for being the oldest team in the league) may actually be better than many thought this year. Cubo Torres looks to have found his confidence and Quioto scored a brilliant goal that won MLS Goal of the Week. On the other side, Columbus is looking for their first win of the season after a 1-1 draw with Chicago. If the Crew have any hope of getting back to their 2015 form, they’re going to earn some road wins against decent teams. This will be a good test for this Crew team.
Sporting Kansas City v. FC Dallas – 9:00pm ET, MLS Live
Sporting KC head back to Kansas City for their home opener against one of MLS’ strongest teams, FC Dallas. SKC’s head coach Peter Vermes said this week that FC Dallas is the league’s best team, and you’d be hard pressed to find many people who would disagree. They’ve looked great in the CONCACAF Champions League and earned a 2-1 road victory against the LA Galaxy. SKC on the other hand earned a hard-fought point on the road against a strong D.C. United team, but they couldn’t find the back of the net in the 0-0 draw. If Sporting KC wants to find themselves higher in the table at the season’s end than in years past, they’ll have to turn Children’s Mercy Park into a fortress. What better way to start than by beating the reigning Supporters’ Shield winners?
Sunday March 12
New York City FC v. D.C. United – 2:00pm ET, MLS Live
If Minnesota United didn’t have their home opener this week, I probably would have chosen this as the best game of the week. Both NYCFC and D.C. United are going to be playoff worthy sides this year. NYCFC is coming off a highly emotional game after losing to Orlando City in the inaugural game at Orlando City Stadium. NYCFC was held scoreless, which will be a rarity this year. I don’t expect a clean sheet for D.C. United in this game. Similarly, D.C. United is looking for their first win and first goal. While I’m sure they’ll find the back of the net, getting the full three points in NYCFC will be tough.
LA Galaxy v. Portland Timbers – 7:00pm ET, Fox Sports 1
This game is a hard one to predict for a number of reasons. LA will be without newcomer Jermaine Jones due to a retroactive suspension for his hard tackle against FC Dallas’ Cristian Colman in the 17th minute of the home loss on Saturday. The Galaxy will also be without defender David Romney who’s suspended for “an act of embellishment” in the same match. Portland is flying high after a 5-1 victory against Minnesota United, but we didn’t really learn much about the Timbers from that match. Adi and Valeri both scored twice, but we knew they would get their goals. MNUFC is widely viewed as the worst team in MLS, so this game will be a better measuring stick to see how good this Portland team really is.
Hot Take of the Week
Sporting Kansas City will beat FC Dallas at home. Despite Vermes’ high praise for a very strong Dallas side, I think Sporting KC will come out strong in their home opener and take the full three points. Do I care if I’m the only person on the Total MLS staff who thinks SKC will win? Nah.
Favorite GIF of the Week
I’ve decided that since my good buddy Ian works so hard all weekend long to make sure you get as many GIFs from each and every MLS game, I’m going to highlight my personal favorite from the week prior all season long.
This week, the choice was tough. We had Yung Joc (he’s still around?) hammering the golden spike in Atlanta, linesman Corey Rockwell showing off his cat like footwork and a really happy Orlando fan. But the winner is none other than Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson and his deep concern for the injured Fabinho.