So, Week 6 was fun. We had upsets when the Revs beat Houston, a flailing D.C. team beat NYCFC and we got a #snowccer match. What more can you ask for, really? We can only hope Week 7 lives up to the excitement of its predecessor. There are a few rivalry games this week, which makes things a bit more interesting. We’re starting to get to the point of the season where we really find out how good (or bad) each team is. Let’s take a look at this week’s matchups…
Best game of the week: Portland Timbers v. Sporting Kansas City – Saturday, April 15, 10:30PM ET, MLS Live
The late kick makes this one tough, but there’s no other option for best game of the week. It simply has to be PTFC and SKC. Portland currently sits atop the Western Conference (and all of MLS) with 13 points and is undisputedly, the best team in MLS so far. Their defense has performed much better than I expected, and their offense is living up to the preseason hype. Sporting KC got off to a very slow start but seems to have found their footing after blowing out the Colorado Rapids 3-1 (should’ve been 3-0) last week. SKC looked in control throughout the entire match. If Sporting can replicate that form throughout the remainder of the season, they might be right in the hunt for MLS Cup with Portland when all is said and done.
Worst game of the week: Colorado Rapids v. Real Salt Lake – Saturday, April 15, 9:00PM ET, MLS Live
I know this is a rivalry game, but these two teams just aren’t that good this year. RSL seemed to turn things around during the #snowccer match and their first game under new coach Mike Petke, but I’m not convinced they’ve really turned a corner. RSL beat a bad Vancouver team, and you can’t really judge how good a team is when they’re playing in a blizzard. Colorado on the other hand was absolutely rocked by Sporting KC. Their 3-1 loss should’ve ended 3-0, but SKC gave up a late goal off a terrible penalty call in stoppage time. Colorado looked totally lost and helpless. These two teams have a combined nine points on the year, which is less than Portland, FC Dallas and Columbus each have respectively. Long story short, this is a match between two bad teams.
Friday, April 14
Philadelphia Union v. New York City FC– 7:00PM ET, ESPN
Spoiler alert: the Philadelphia Union are not very good at soccer right now. They sit dead last in the Eastern Conference and all of MLS with only two points. Two. In five games. That’s 0.4 points per game for all you non-math majors out there. That’s very bad. Oh, and they haven’t won a game since August 27 of last year. I know there’s the whole offseason that happened, but that works out to 13 straight games without a win (12 regular season and one postseason). It’s clear Jim Curtin is on the hot seat, and he needs to turn things around. Now. NYCFC lost in a lackluster performance against D.C. United last week and will looking for a bounce back performance. Hot take (not): they’re going to win, and it won’t be close.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC v. Seattle Sounders FC – 10:00PM ET, MLS Live
Vancouver has been a very underwhelming team this year. Some analysts even picked them to win MLS Cup, including Herculez Gomez who discussed his pick on this week’s Total MLS Show podcast. Luckily for Vancouver they won’t be playing in a blizzard this week. They’ve also been knocked out of the CONCACAF Champions League, so they won’t have that as a distraction. Will that help? Only time will tell. Seattle hasn’t exactly been firing on all cylinders, either. The reigning champs are sitting seventh in the Western Conference, but if any team in MLS knows not to pay too much attention to early season standings it’s the Sounders. This is a big game for both teams if they want to start getting on the right track. I trust that Seattle can do it. I’m not so sure about Vancouver. Adding intrigue to this matchup is Fredy Montero’s first match against his old club. It may be a late start, but it’ll be worth watching if you are awake.
San Jose Earthquakes v. FC Dallas – 11:00PM ET, UniMás, MLS Live, facebook.com
Good Lord, MLS. I know this is a west coast game, but these kickoff times are killing me. This is actually an intriguing matchup, too. San Jose is on a three game skid, losing to both Sporting KC and NYCFC before drawing Seattle last week. If they want to be taken seriously as a contender in the Western Conference, there’s no better way to do that than by beating FC Dallas. The men from Frisco are pretty much who we expected them to be. They’re one of the best in MLS, they have no problem scoring goals and have yet to allow more than one goal this year. It’s hard to beat a fast team that scores goals with a great defense. Oscar Pareja is probably the best coach in MLS, so Dominic Kinnear and San Jose have their work cut out for them if they’re going to get a result in this one.
Saturday, April 15
Montreal Impact v. Atlanta United FC – 1:00PM ET, MLS Live
Talk about a disappointing team. Montreal was one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference last year, but this year they’re bottom feeders alongside Philly. Montreal have yet to win a game this year, although they have drawn against three playoff-worthy teams in Seattle, NYCFC and Chicago. Again, it’s still early, and the return of Nacho Piatti will be a huge boost for the Impact, but a win would go a long way to calming down the Montreal fan base. Atlanta has gotten off to a pretty solid start in their inaugural season. They’ve drawn against both Seattle and Toronto, thrashed Chicago and Minnesota and lost a very close match to RBNY. That’s a pretty decent resume. The loss of Josef Martinez seems to have really hurt, though, as they haven’t won a game since he went down. Their fortunes may change in this one, though. I expect them to get back to their winning ways.
Orlando City SC v. LA Galaxy – 2:30PM ET, MLS Live
This game is actually really interesting for a number of reasons. Orlando is better than most people thought, and they look incredibly dangerous playing at home. As Servando Carrasco said to ESPN’s Julie Stewart-Binks, OCSC fans are what makes their new stadium a fortress. Orlando has yet to lose or even draw in their three home games so far this season. 21-year-old Cyle Larin (#CanadianMessi) is turning into a bona fide star and is drawing interest from European clubs. His three goals through four games are pretty impressive. But LA’s defense has been very good this year outside of their performance against Vancouver. Other than that, they haven’t let up more than one goal in a game. LA got off to a very slow start, but having won two of their last three games are looking a bit more like the Galaxy we’ve come to know. They still have a long way to go, though, and beating a tough Orlando team at home would do wonders for their confidence.
Chicago Fire v. New England Revolution – 5:00PM ET, MLS Live
Okay, maybe it’s time for me to stop making fun of the Revs quite as much as I have been. They lost to Colorado to start the year, which wasn’t great, but other than that they’ve played tough games against both FC Dallas and Portland and beat MNUFC and Houston. This team may not end up being a playoff team when it’s all said and done, but they have a shot to be in the fight for a 5-6 spot if they keep playing like they have been. Chicago got their first win of the Schweinsteiger era last week against Columbus, which will help in their march toward a World Cup. Dax McCarty looked incredible, and RBNY have to be second-guessing that move right about now. If Dax stays in form and Basti can bring some creativity to their midfield, Chicago will be a formidable team in the Eastern Conference.
New York Red Bulls v. D. C. United – 7:30PM ET, MLS Live
Both of these clubs had playoff aspirations this year, which make no mistake could very well still happen. But so far both of these teams look incredibly mediocre. They currently occupy the 7-8 spots in the Eastern Conference, and neither of them have really shown the ability to score at the rate they’d need to if they want to make some noise in the Eastern Conference. For the Red Bulls in particular this is a weird situation with star forward Bradley Wright-Phillips. The Red Bulls have only scored more than one goal once this season when they put up two in their first game of the year against Atlanta, and that was ATLUTD’s first ever game as a club. RBNY got smashed by Houston two weeks ago before losing a close 1-0 game to Orlando last week. Time for Jesse Marsch to think about changing formations or something to turn things around. D.C. United is feeling good after consecutive 2-1 victories against Philly and NYCFC. They may have finally figured some things out after a terrible first three weeks. Can they continue their hot streak?
Columbus Crew SC v. Toronto FC – 8:00PM ET, MLS Live
Ah, the Trillium Cup. Who doesn’t love a good ol’ floral based rivalry? (For those of you who may not know, the trillium is the official flower of the province of Ontario, Canada AND the official wildflower of Ohio. This is serious stuff.) Columbus still sits atop the Eastern Conference despite last week’s loss to Chicago. They couldn’t get their attack going against the Fire, but that may be a bit easier against a banged up Toronto FC side. TFC will still be without #1 keeper Clint Irwin, and they learned today that defender Drew Moor will be out with an irregular heartbeat. We all wish Moor the best, but his absence leaves a big hole to be filled in Toronto’s defense. TFC coach Greg Vanney will have to get a bit creative this week as defender Jason Hernandez is also hurt.
Houston Dynamo v. Minnesota United FC – 8:30PM ET, MLS Live
Two weeks ago I would’ve said this game might end 6-0 in Houston’s favor. Now, this is MLS, so it still may. But, Minnesota looks a bit better than the all-time worst MLS team we thought they were a few weeks back, and Houston seems to have come back to earth a bit after an amazing start to the year. Houston has been one of the more inconsistent teams this year. They did not look good in their 2-0 loss to New England or in their 4-2 loss to Portland, but they looked phenomenal in their wins against Seattle, Columbus and the Red Bulls. So which Houston is real? Both, probably. That may sound like a weird answer, but Wilmer’s style of play pretty much lends itself to either blowing out teams or getting blown out. There’s really no in-between. MNUFC played fairly well all things considered on their trip to FC Dallas, despite losing 2-0. They don’t have to travel far this week, and they’ll look to build on their continued improvement. Come on, you Loons. We believe in you!
Hot take of the week: Orlando City has made their new home stadium a fortress. I think this week the walls come tumbling down. The Galaxy are getting back on track, and Curt Onalfo’s men are going to go into Orlando and hand OCSC their first home loss.
GIF of the week: I’m really looking forward to the 30 for 30 based on this divot ESPN found in Orlando City’s stadium. I mean look at it. Why is it there? How long has it been there? Will anyone fix it? So many questions. So few answers.