I’m gonna go ahead and quote Herc Gomez here… if Week 10 taught us anything, it’s don’t bet on MLS games. How many of you had Philly beating RBNY, San Jose beating Portland, MNUFC beating SKC and Houston destroying OCSC? Me neither. But that’s the beauty of MLS. Anything can happen on any given week. What madness does Week 11 have in store?
Best game of the week: FC Dallas v. NYCFC – Sunday, May 14, 8:00PM ET, Fox Sports 1
It’s pretty clear that FC Dallas is the best team in MLS. They still haven’t lost a game in 2017 and are on a 13 game unbeaten streak dating back to September 10, 2016 (when they lost to the Rapids of all teams). Oh, they also sit atop the Western Conference with 18 points having played two less matches than Sporting KC, who also has 18 points. Their defense has been among the best in MLS, allowing only five goals through eight games so far, but they’ll have their hands full this week against David Villa and NYCFC. NYC are coming off a 3-1 blowout over Atlanta United, and David Villa looks like he’s in as fine of form as ever. The 2016 MVP has a team high six goals and four assists and will be right in the middle of the MVP discussion again. NYCFC has multiple offensive threats, too, with four players scoring multiple goals and five players having multiple assists on the year. This will be a game you don’t want to miss.
Worst game of the week: Colorado Rapids v. San Jose Earthquakes – Saturday, May 13, 4:00PM ET, UniMás, facebook.com
After Philly beat the Red Bulls 3-0 last week, the Rapids are officially the worst team in MLS with a mere four points through eight games. After winning their very first game of the season, Colorado has yet to win another match and are currently in the midst of a seven game winless streak. What’s worse is that they’re on a five game losing streak, during which they’ve scored a total of two goals. Their last result was a 2-2 home draw on March 18 against Minnesota United, who at the time was still being looked at as potentially the worst team in MLS history. No wonder Rapids fans are unhappy. The Earthquakes, on the other hand, are what I call “consistently inconsistent.” Their 4-3-3 record shows just how all over the map they’ve been this season. Wondo scored a very nice and un-Wondo like goal last week from the edge of the box, and if he can somehow keep that up this team could maaaybe push for the #6 spot in the West. I don’t expect San Jose to struggle with Colorado, but I also didn’t expect them to beat Portland 3-0. Welcome to MLS!
Wednesday, May 10
Columbus Crew SC v. Toronto FC – 7:30PM ET, MLS Live
No, you’re not crazy. It really does feel like Toronto plays every three days. This is their second Wednesday game of the season. They’ve already played three Friday games. They have two more Friday games in the following two weeks and Tuesday and Wednesday night Canadian Championship matchups sandwiched in there, too. Starts to make a little more sense why Giovinco got last week off, right? Despite TFC’s best player not making the trip, they took care of business in Seattle, beating the Sounders 1-0 on the road thanks to a Jozy penalty kick. Columbus blanked New England at home in a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Ola Kamara and Federico Higuain. TFC is clearly the best team in the Eastern Conference, but a victory for the Crew would cement their position as a contender. As far as Wednesday night games go, this one should be pretty entertaining.
Friday, May 12
Houston Dynamo v. Vancouver Whitecaps FC – 9:00PM ET, MLS Live
Holy Dynamo! Wilmer Cabrera’s airplane blanket strategy sure worked last week against Orlando City. The Dynamo’s unbelievable 4-0 beat down of OCSC showed just how dangerous Houston can be when they’re firing on all cylinders. Holding #CanadianMessi to zero goals isn’t too bad, either. Vancouver is coming off a 1-0 win over Colorado, which doesn’t really tell us anything. The Whitecaps have potential, but they need to start scoring goals. The addition of winger Bernie Ibini from Belgian club Brugge KV could be a big step in the right direction, but he almost certainly won’t make an appearance on Friday. In the meantime, Fredy Montero will have to continue carrying the team and hope the Dynamo of two weeks ago shows up to play on Friday.
Saturday, May 13
Toronto FC v. Minnesota United FC – 3:00PM ET, MLS Live
Welcome to the first ever Loonie Derby! This is a very big and prestigious matchup. Probably the biggest derby in all of MLS, to be honest. This very contentious derby stems from the fact that the Loon is the official state bird of Minnesota (and has been since 1961), but Canada is trying to steal the Loon away from Minnesota with their “loonie” one dollar coin (which was introduced many years after 1961 in 1987). Let me go on the record and say I am on #TeamLoons here. The loon belongs to Minnesota.
Now that I have that out of the way, I can get to soccer. On paper, this game probably isn’t much of a matchup. TFC is one of the best teams in MLS, and Giovinco is coming off rest. Doesn’t look great for MNUFC. But the Loons certainly showed promise in a 2-0 win against SKC. Abu Danladi got his first goal last week, Superman scored and Batman looked great with a couple of assists. Could the Loons pull of the shocker? One can only hope. #LoonsRising.
Montreal Impact v. Columbus Crew SC – 5:00PM ET, MLS Live
Montreal's season has been extremely underwhelming to this point. Yeah, they beat D.C. United 1-0 last week, but that doesn’t say too much. Simply put, Montreal needs someone aside from Piatti. Anthony Jackson-Hamel has come on as a goal scoring option, but he’s still young and unproven, as he hasn’t played more than 171 minutes in a season in his career. Good news for Montreal is they completed the acquisition of DP midfielder Blerim Dzemaili on loan from Italian side Bologna FC. He’ll bring some much-needed creativity to the midfield and take some of the pressure off Nacho. This has the potential to be a big matchup for Columbus, especially if they fall to Toronto midweek. If that’s the case, then three points will be crucial against Montreal if they want to stay near the top of the Eastern Conference.
D.C. United v. Philadelphia Union – 7:00PM ET, MLS Live
Philly won a game! Yes, I’ll take full credit for that. I said last week they’d continue to be my worst game of the week until they won a game. What happened next? They immediately won a game. Clearly my threat worked. You’re welcome, Philadelphia. CJ Sapong silenced his critics with a hat trick, of which all three goals came in the last sixteen minutes of the game. D.C. last week fell 1-0 to a struggling Montreal side, which pretty much sums up the season for D.C. They’ve had trouble scoring goals all year and currently sit at a -5 goal differential on the season. They didn’t bring anyone in during the transfer window who could solve that problem, so they’re stuck with who they’ve got. This game could be a pivotal point in the season for D.C. Win and shoot up to the middle of the table and keep fighting to stay in the hunt. Lose and fall down to the bottom in a hole that could be hard to dig out of.
Orlando City SC v. Sporting Kansas City – 7:00PM ET, MLS Live
This is one of the more intriguing matchups of the week. Both of these teams have been among the best in MLS all year, and both are coming off by far their worst performances of the season. There are a few bits of good news for OCSC heading into this match, though. First, they are 5-0-0 at home this season. They’ve truly turned that stadium into a fortress, and they’re one of the hardest teams in MLS to beat at home. Second, Dom Dwyer is suspended for the matchup for yellow card accumulation. SKC doesn’t really have a goal scoring threat outside of Dwyer, a problem that’s plagued them for a couple years since losing Krisztián Németh. Peter Vermes will either have to start the young Daniel Salloi or Soony Saad, who isn’t a natural striker, in Dom’s place. This one will be tough for SKC to pull off. Kansas City faithful should be happy if they come out of this one with any sort of result.
New England Revolution v. Real Salt Lake – 7:30PM ET, MLS Live
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. It was just four short years ago RSL took Sporting KC to a shootout in MLS Cup, and it was a mere three years ago the Revs fell to Landon Donovan and the LA Galaxy. Both of these clubs are a far cry from their MLS Cup days, sitting near the bottom of their respective conferences. New England is in the midst of a five game winless streak after losing 2-0 on the road to Columbus last week. The Revs likely have hope of that ending this week, though, as they’re home against the struggling side of Mike Petke. Back-to-back 3-0 losses for RSL pretty much sums up the state of the team right now. They brought in Venezuelan striker Jefferson Savarino during the transfer window to try to help straighten things up, but one young DP won’t single handedly turn around a team sitting in tenth with a -9 goal differential. It looks like Petke may have to entirely blow up this roster and start over come the offseason.
Chicago Fire v. Seattle Sounders FC – 9:00PM ET, ESPN2
These are two teams that probably should be better than they are. Yes, Chicago currently sits just above the playoff line at sixth in the Eastern Conference, but they’re too talented of a team for that. They were the trendy dark horse pick in the East by many analysts—myself included—and have shown flashes of brilliance, but they haven’t fully put it together. Seattle sits in eighth in the West right now, but Sounders fans aren’t worried. They’ve been here before. I do think that they need to start picking up points, though. It isn’t a great strategy to wait until nearly the end of the season to finally make your push above the playoff line. This team has potential, but they may need to bring in one more piece in the summer if they want to defend their MLS Cup title. Either way, this should be a fun match to watch.
Sunday, May 14
Portland Timbers v. Atlanta United FC – 4:00PM ET, ESPN
This will absolutely be an entertaining game. Portland goes back home after getting killed on the road in San Jose, and they’ll be looking for blood. Atlanta United has run into some speed bumps after a fast start to the season, but they still have the offensive firepower to win on any given week. This is their first trip to Portland, and I’m not sure they know what they’re in for. Portland is consistently rated one of the hardest places to play in MLS, right up there with Seattle and now Orlando City. ATLUTD was able to keep Seattle to a scoreless draw back at the end of March when they visited Century Link, but without Josef Martinez they’ve struggled to keep up with more tenured MLS teams. Martinez looked as though he might make his return this week against Portland, but more recent reports indicate that a return next week is more likely.
New York Red Bulls v. Los Angeles Galaxy – 6:00PM ET, Fox Sports 1
Two years ago this was a marquee matchup. I won’t go so far as to say it’s a game you should miss, especially since it’s on national TV, but it definitely doesn’t have the luster it once had. Having said that, these two clubs have a lot of history and a lot of pride. Whenever RBNY and LA get together, it’s worth paying attention. First year Galaxy coach Curt Onalfo thinks his team became a team again last week after fighting back from a 2-0 deficit against Chicago to finish with a 2-2 draw. LA will be without USMNT vet Jermaine Jones who will miss a month with a knee injury. It may seem counterintuitive, but maybe the Galaxy will be better without JJ. We’ll see. RBNY got embarrassed in a 3-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union. Jesse Marsch certainly will want his men to make a statement at home this week to make up for it. Weirdly, though, scoring goals has been somewhat of a problem for the usually offensive minded Red Bulls. They’ve only scored eleven on the year and sit at a -4 goal differential. The Galaxy have given up some goals this year, though, so now is a chance for RBNY to strike.
Hot take of the week: Even without Dom Dwyer, Sporting KC will go into Orlando and hand OCSC their first ever home loss at Orlando City Stadium. Peter Vermes can’t be happy after an embarrassing 2-0 loss to MNUFC, so he’ll have his men make up for it this week.
GIF of the week: I’m changing it up a bit this week. Rather than my favorite GIF of the week, I’m going with the Grease tweets my buddy Ian sent out. They’re simply too good to ignore. We’ll get back to our regularly scheduled GIFs next week.
In my mind somebody in the front office took their date to see Grease at the Chanhassan Dinner Theatre and said, wow look at their moxy!— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) May 7, 2017