Welcome to MLS Week 12, where there are a whopping SIXTEEN games this week. Yes, that’s a lot of soccer. As a result, I’m going to split the preview into two different parts: midweek and weekend games. We have five games lined up tonight, so let’s take a look at those.
Best game of the midweek: Philadelphia Union v. Houston Dynamo – 7:30PM ET, MLS Live
Excuse me, what? Philadelphia Union in a game of the week? Yeah, it was hard for me to write it. But, is there a hotter team in MLS over the past two weeks? The Union are riding a two-game win streak where they’ve beaten the New York Red Bulls and D.C. United by a combined 7-0. I’m not sure what happened, but something clicked in Philly the past two weeks. Down in Houston the Dynamo are riding a two-game win streak of their own after destroying OCSC 4-0 and then beating Vancouver 2-1. There are some fantastic strikers in this game between C.J. Sapong, Mauro Manotas and Cubo Torres. This game, surprisingly, has the makings of a thriller. Hey, take them where you can get them!
Worst game of the midweek: Real Salt Lake v. NYCFC – 9:00PM ET, MLS Live
I’m not exactly sure how RSL ended up here (after all, it was just in 2013 where they lost MLS Cup on a penalty shootout thriller), but man are they bad. Like, really, really bad. They’re in the midst of a four-game losing streak. They’ve been outscored in their last three games a combined 10-0. Granted, two of those games were against Sporting KC and FC Dallas, two of the better teams in the Western Conference if not all of MLS. But, there’s no excuse for being held scoreless in three consecutive weeks while giving up three and four goals to the opponent. NYCFC is playing fantastic soccer right now. They drew FC Dallas in Frisco, which is all anyone can really hope for when playing there. Simply put, NYCFC will wreck Real Salt Lake. This game will not be fun to watch. In fact, it may become borderline painful.
Chicago Fire v. Colorado Rapids – 8:30PM ET, MLS Live
The Chicago Fire finally were able to break their three-game winless streak with a 4-1 romping of Seattle Sounders FC. I have to admit, while I thought the Fire beating Seattle was a real possibility, I did not expect the thrashing Chicago gave the Sounders. Nemanja Nikolić of the Fire looks like a legitimate Golden Boot contender, as he currently sits with eight goals through ten matches, only one of which came from the penalty spot (looking at you, Cubo). Colorado, on the other hand, had by far their best performance of the season with a 3-0 victory over a decent San Jose team. It was a season high for goals scored by Colorado, whose offense is usually anemic at best. I don’t expect Colorado to keep that up, although they may have to with Nikolić leading the Fire’s attack. I expect this one to go Chicago’s way, especially since the Fire are at home.
Sporting Kansas City v. Seattle Sounders FC – 8:30PM ET, MLS Live
Sporting KC snapped a two-game road skid, and they did it in a fairly big way. SKC became the first team to head down to Orlando City Stadium and earn a result. OCSC has been virtually unstoppable at home this year, and the fact that SKC went in and took a point without Dom Dwyer in the lineup has to be encouraging for SKC faithful. Newcomer Latif Blessing started up top for Dom and scored both goals for Sporting KC. Peter Vermes had talked up the 20-year-old Ghanaian before, but this was his first extended action, and he sure impressed. It will be interesting to see how Peter continues to use him with Dom back in the lineup. As impressive as SKC may have been last week, Seattle was the exact opposite. In some ways, it’s hard to believe this is the team that won MLS Cup last year. The Sounders are on a three-game winless streak, and their only victory in their last eight matches was four weeks ago against a mightily struggling LA Galaxy side. Children’s Mercy Park is always a tough place to play, especially for the Sounders who seem to suffer soul-crushing losses late in the game in KC. This one though looks to have the makings of a blowout, as Seattle’s already questionable defense will be without Joevin Jones due to red card suspension.
San Jose Earthquakes v. Orlando City SC – 10:30PM ET, MLS Live
San Jose was flat out embarrassed by Colorado last week. There’s simply no other way to put it. As a result, the Earthquakes will head home looking for blood and hoping to recreate their home form of a couple weeks ago when they beat Portland 3-0. I’ve said before, San Jose is the most consistently inconsistent team in MLS. You honestly don’t know what you’ll get from them on any given night. They could be fantastic, or they could be just plain garbage. Which team shows up tonight? Orlando City will be frustrated in their own right, as they just gave up their first points in their shiny new stadium to Sporting KC. OCSC has slid down to third in the Eastern Conference, but they’re still one of the more formidable teams in MLS. When you have #CanadianMessi, anything is possible. Sadly, OCSC probably won’t have him much longer, so they better take advantage of his goal-scoring capabilities while he’s still playing in MLS.
Hot take of the week: Philly v. Houston will actually be a good game. I know this seems redundant since I picked them as the game of the week, but if I’m putting that much stock in a Union game I think that qualifies as a pretty fiery hot take. I can’t overdo it just yet… I have to save something for the weekend!
GIF of the week: Stay classy, Timbers fans.