Welcome to MLS week 6. First things first let me apologize to MNUFC fans last week for calling their game the worst game of the week. Clearly, I was wrong. It was the best. I’m happy for Loons Nation after they got their first MLS win against a struggling RSL side. Oh, and don’t look now, but MNUFC has more points than the LA Galaxy. On that bombshell…
Best game of the week: Columbus Crew v. Chicago Fire – Saturday, April 8, 2:00PM ET, MLS Live
How many of you predicted Columbus Crew SC would be in first place in the Eastern Conference five weeks in? I sure didn’t. In fact, I thought they would be one of the worst teams in the league. So far it looks like I was very, very wrong. Their recent acquisition of Kekuta Manneh from Vancouver only makes them even more dangerous. But, Chicago has their own new signing as well. You may have heard of him. Basti made an immediate impact on his new team with a forceful header into goal against Montreal, even though the two sides found themselves deadlocked in a 2-2 draw. Not only did Schweinsteiger score, but had a beautiful little dummy when letting the ball through to Juninho in the box. If he’s doing that after a week training with the team, imagine him after two weeks!
Worst game of the week: Real Salt Lake v. Vancouver Whitecaps – Saturday, April 8, 9:30PM, MLS Live
This one is pretty straightforward. RSL is a dumpster fire. They’re tied for a league low two points and lost to a Minnesota United team that just a week prior people were predicting would be the worst MLS team ever. They’re the only team in the league with a passing percentage less than 70 at 67.7%. New coach Mike Petke faces the daunting task of turning around arguably the worst team in MLS. Vancouver will be coming off short rest after losing to Tigres 2-1 (4-1 aggregate) in the CONCACAF Champions League game on Wednesday night. Fortunately for the Whitecaps they didn’t have to travel to Mexico, but nonetheless the short rest will hurt the team. A 9:30pm ET start time doesn’t make this one any more desirable, either.
Friday, April 7
Los Angeles Galaxy v. Montreal Impact – 10:30PM ET, MLS Live
Good thing this game is on a Friday night because a 10:30PM start time is not ideal for anyone not on the east coast. Like anyone in Montreal. Where one of the teams playing is from. Aside from that, this game provides some intrigue in that both of these sides are severely underachieving based on preseason expectations. Both are sitting in tenth place in their respective conferences. Both expect to be in the playoffs come October. But in order to do that they’ll have to start righting the ship, and the sooner the better. Montreal will once again be without Nacho Piatti, which is not a good thing for their attack. The injury bug has bitten the Galaxy, too, who will be without Sebastian Lleget once again. Both sides will hope to take advantage of a short-staffed opponent.
Saturday, April 8
New England Revolution v. Houston Dynamo – 2:00PM ET, MLS Live
I’m not sure what Owen Coyle did to break Cubo, but whatever it was Wilmer Cabrera has fixed it. Cubo is coming off the first hat trick of his career and leads MLS with six goals so far. He’s in the best form of his life and looks poised to continue his rapid goal scoring, especially against a struggling New England side. Houston as a whole has been very impressive in the first month of the season, currently sitting in second place in the Western Conference behind Portland. New England has been disappointing, but that was somewhat expected. They’ve earned four points through four games, which isn’t going to get you very far. There only win was a 5-2 victory against Minnesota United. Outside of that they’ve scored two goals. Kei Kamara hasn’t ever really been himself with the Revs. New England has some serious issues to figure out if they want to break out of the funk they’re in.
D.C. United v. New York City FC – 4:00PM ET, UniMás, MLS LIVE, facebook.com
Good news for D.C. United fans is they finally got a win last week. Bad news is it was against the Philadelphia Union, who have a grand total of two points, good enough to tie RSL for dead last in MLS. D.C. United certainly doesn’t look like the playoff team many thought they’d be so far. A win against NYCFC would go a long way to correcting that. NYCFC however look about as good as we thought they would. They have seven points so far, with their only loss coming at the hands of Orlando City when they opened their new stadium. (OCSC seems to do strangely well against NYCFC as it is, having earned more points against NYCFC than any other team in MLS.) David Villa is in fine form so far and will be right in the middle of the MVP conversation if he keeps playing like this. NYCFC will be a formidable force in the Eastern Conference all season long.
Philadelphia Union v. Portland Timbers – 7:00PM ET
This one may get ugly. Fast. Philadelphia is not good. Portland is. Portland’s attack is arguably the best in MLS, and Philadelphia has let up two goals in each of their last three games. Philadelphia is winless in its last twelve games dating back to last season. At this point, Union coach Jim Curtin is probably coaching for his job despite last year’s playoff berth, which will put even more pressure on both him and his team. Portland on the other hand is flying high and seems to have solved their road woes, already having won a road game in LA after having gone winless on the road in 2016. The Timbers haven’t taken the full three points since playing the Dynamo on March 18, but I expect them to handle the Union easily.
Toronto FC v. Atlanta United FC – 7:30PM ET, MLS Live
Could this be a preview of the Eastern Conference final? It’s probably far too early to tell, but Atlanta look as good as almost any team in the league and Toronto will almost certainly be in that conversation at the season’s end. Giovinco still hasn’t scored for TFC, but he’ll look to end that this weekend against an ATL defense that has been overachieving during the first month of the season. Toronto will be without #1 keeper Clint Irwin who went down against SKC and is set to miss 4-5 weeks. Alex Bono will be a fine replacement for Irwin, but Atlanta’s high powered attack will be a tough challenge even without striker Josef Martinez. Both teams could score some goals in this matchup.
FC Dallas v. Minnesota United FC – 8:00PM, MLS Live
LOOOOOOOOOOOONS! It finally happened. MNUFC supporters rejoiced as the Loons took down a struggling RSL team last week for their first ever MLS win. Loons Nation may want to screenshot the Western Conference standings right now because I’m not sure how long they’ll be above the Galaxy. Savor it while you can. Sadly for MNUFC they go from playing the worst team in the league to the best. FC Dallas may be coming off a short rest and a heartbreaking CCL loss, but I don’t think that will affect them too much, especially since this game is in Frisco. MNUFC will have new additions Sam Cronin and Marc Burch, but Dallas is just too strong for the expansion side.
San Jose Earthquakes v. Seattle Sounders FC – 10:30PM ET, MLS Live
This game is more interesting than I would have predicted a month ago. San Jose came out of the gates hot starting the season on a two game win streak before dropping their next two matchups. So, will the real San Jose please stand up? A win against defending MLS Cup champions Seattle will get the Quakes back on track, but a loss will put them back in familiar territory in recent history at under .500. Seattle hasn’t quite started off as well as they would have hoped, but this team will be just fine. They have a great opportunity to rack up some points over the next four weeks as they’re playing four struggling teams. Don’t be surprised if Seattle is atop the West at the end of April.
Sunday, April 9
Orlando City SC v. New York Red Bulls – 4:00PM ET, ESPN
It’s always fun when you get to watch a couple of natural goal scorers go head-to-head. It doesn’t get much better than Bradley Wright-Phillips v. Cyle Larin (#CanadianMessi). Even outside of those two this game should be very competitive. The Red Bulls won their first two games before only taking one point out of their next three matchups. If they want to get back on track, beating OCSC is an important first step. Orlando City may still be without Kaka, but they’ve won two of their first three games and look to be a competitive team all season long in the Eastern Conference. Even if RBNY have been struggling as of late, taking the full three points will give Orlando City a confidence boost and put them right alongside the top teams in the Eastern Conference table.
Sporting Kansas City v. Colorado Rapids – 7:00PM ET, Fox Sports 1
Despite leading MLS in shots/game at 14.8, Sporting KC have struggled to find the back of the net this year, scoring only two goals through four games. And one of those was technically an own goal by San Jose keeper David Bingham. Things won’t get much easier for SKC this week going against one of the best defenses in the league. Making things even tougher for Sporting KC is that Colorado got an unexpected bye week when their game against FC Dallas was postponed due to CCL play. The good thing for Sporting is that this game is in Kansas City where SKC has gotten their lone win of the season. However, teams tend to come into Children’s Mercy Park and play for the draw, which frustrates Peter Vermes and Sporting KC’s attacking players. I’d expect Colorado to do just that this week. SKC will need to be creative to break through and take the full three points.
Hot take of the week: Sporting KC will score a goal
Yes. I know. This is a very bold prediction. Especially against Tim Howard and Colorado. I just got through saying how the Rapids will park the bus and play for the draw. I know that, you know that and everyone who watches MLS knows that. But that means Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes does, too, and I expect him to come up with some creativity in his game plan to get his team back to their goal scoring ways.
GIF of the week: For the second week in a row Minnesota United win this very prestigious honor. Last week it was for the members of Loons Nation who travelled to New England. This week it’s for their first win. Molino shows some great quality in the through ball to Ramirez as the Loons took the lead and never gave it back. Soak it in, Loons. You’ve earned it. #LoonsRising.