We’re 5/16 of the way through the week after an exciting Wednesday filled with goals. Did we learn anything we didn’t already know? Nope, but the Union and RSL confirmed that you should never, ever bet on MLS games. As we look to the weekend, we have a full slate of eleven games to watch. Here’s what you have to look forward to…
Best game of the week: Orlando City SC v. NYCFC – Sunday, May 21, 7:00PM ET, Fox Sports 1
Both of these teams had frustrating results midweek, NYCFC in particular. No one expected NYC to lose to one of the worst teams in the league, even if it was on the road. Sadly, this isn’t a great way to start the Captain Tommy Mac era. Granted, David Villa wasn’t in the starting XI, but NYCFC still should’ve wiped the floor with RSL. Now they have to travel to one of the toughest places to play in MLS. Orlando City is still unbeaten at home, and they’ve only drawn once against SKC. OCSC is coming off a frustrating draw against San Jose, but the good news for them is that they’ve had NYCFC’s number since both teams came into the league. OCSC has a 4-1-2 record against NYCFC, and given how great they are at home this year, I would expect that to become 5-1-2 after Sunday.
Worst game of the week: Seattle Sounders FC v. Real Salt Lake – Saturday, May 20, 5:00PM ET, MLS Live
Oh how the mighty have fallen. Seattle looked like they were channeling their 2016 form in the first half of their midweek matchup with SKC. Then Gerso happened. Sporting KC totally dominated Seattle in the second half, and the Sounders looked like they gave up. Thanks to RSL’s surprise Wednesday victory over NYCFC, Seattle now sits in tenth in the west, one point behind their Saturday opponent. I still think they have the upper hand in this matchup, though. Real Salt Lake shocked the MLS world when they beat NYCFC, but they have the worst goal differential in the league at -12. Yes, even worse than MNUFC. Seattle has scored more goals and allowed fewer goals on the year than RSL. With Dempsey likely returning to the lineup and this game being played in Seattle, I’d say it’s the Sounders game to lose.
Friday, May 19
New York Red Bulls v. Toronto FC – 7:30PM ET, MLS Live
Toronto is hands down the hottest—and maybe best overall—team in MLS. They are riding an unbelievable six game win streak, where they’ve won by a combined 13-5. They’re coming off a 3-2 home victory over the mighty Loons of Minnesota, but they’ll be without their star Giovinco, who will be sidelined for three weeks with a quad strain. They’ll also be without defender Nick Hagglund, who tore his MCL and will miss up to three months. The good news for TFC is RBNY has been in terrible form as of late. They’re in the midst of a three game losing streak, including a totally embarrassing 3-0 loss to Philadelphia. Their most recent loss was a 3-1 defeat at the hands of a sub-par LA Galaxy team. Sure, playing at Red Bull Arena is an advantage, but as hot as TFC is right now I’m not sure it’ll make a difference.
Saturday, May 20
Montreal Impact v. Portland Timbers – 3:00PM ET, MLS Live
Montreal’s disaster season continued last week with a 3-2 loss to the Columbus Crew. The Impact sit dead last in the Eastern Conference with a mere 10 points through 10 games. We know how good Nacho Piatti is, and Anthony Jackson-Hamel has come on strong in the last month, but the Impact need someone outside of Patrice Bernier who can create chances. Outside of Bernier, who has four assists, the Impact don’t have anyone with more than one assist. Can new signing Blerim Dzemaili be the difference maker Impact fans hope he can be? He certainly impressed in his MLS debut, as his free kick set up Jackson-Hamel’s 77th minute goal. Portland hasn’t won in nearly a month, but that very likely will change this weekend. Montreal’s defense is filled with holes, and despite the Timbers offense’s poor form the last couple of weeks, they are still one of the strongest attacking sides in MLS. PTFC looks like they’ll break their three-game winless streak on Saturday.
D.C. United v. Chicago Fire – 4:00PM ET, UniMás, facebook.com
This game could get ugly. D.C. is not a good team this year. They can’t score at all. They’re the only team in MLS aside from Colorado that is yet to reach double-digit goals on the season. They’ve also allowed 18 goals, which is the fourth worst in MLS. That’s not a winning combination. They got blanked 4-0 last week by the Philadelphia Union. This week, they face the Fire who have MLS’ leading goal scorer Nemanja Nikolic who is the first to 10 goals this year in the league. Accam is having a solid year for the Fire as well with five goals and four assists. With the form the Fire have been in as of late, I’d expect them to handle business in D.C.
Atlanta United FC v. Houston Dynamo – 7:00PM ET, MLS Live
Don’t look now, but ATLUTD is in ninth place in the Eastern Conference. (The Loons are in eighth in the Western Conference… just for the sake of comparison.) They’ve won only one game in their last seven matchups, and that only win was against a very bad RSL team. Yes, the loss of Josef Martinez was very bad. Fans were hoping he may be back for this week, but it looks like his return is still at least a week away. The good news for ATL is that Houston is absolutely terrible on the road. They’ve played four road games, and they have four losses. The Dynamo have scored only two road goals all year. Wilmer will have to make some adjustments of some sort to correct their road form. On paper, Houston should win this game, but this one honestly could go either way.
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.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC v. Sporting Kansas City – 7:00PM ET, MLS Live
Vancouver and SKC always seem to play tough against each other, but Sporting KC hasn’t lost against the Whitecaps since 2015. Vancouver tends to play SKC better at home, where they have a 2-1-1 record on the year. The Whitecaps will be thrilled to be back home after a four-game road trip, during which they won two and lost two. The bad news for Vancouver is Sporting KC is a very good team this year. SKC earned their seventh clean sheet on the year. Gerso scored Sporting KC’s first hat trick of the post-Wizards era, and he did it in just thirteen minutes. If SKC can consistently get goals out of players not named Dom Dwyer, which they’ve done in each of their past two games, then this team has a real chance of contending for MLS Cup this year. The real story of this matchup, though, is how many shenanigans will Kendall Waston and Dom Dwyer find themselves in?
Philadelphia Union v. Colorado Rapids – 7:00PM ET, MLS Live
What the heck is going on in Philadelphia? The Union have exploded over the last three weeks with three shutout wins by a combined 9-0. They’re also riding a four-game clean sheet streak. Philly’s most recent win was a 2-0 victory over the second place Dynamo. Meanwhile, Colorado looks like the worst team in MLS. They’re in last place in the Western Conference with an MLS low seven points. They’re also last in MLS in goals scored with only eight on the year. They’ve won once in their last eight games, and got smashed 3-0 by the Fire last week. If recent form is any indication, Philly should cruise past the Rapids at home this week. But, I wouldn’t trust Philly too much yet if I were you.
FC Dallas v. San Jose Earthquakes – 8:00PM ET, MLS Live
FC Dallas may be behind Sporting KC in the Western Conference and behind Orlando City and Toronto FC in the Supporters’ Shield race, but if I’m being honest Dallas is still probably the best team in MLS. (Sorry Toronto.) FC Dallas has only played nine games on the year, and they’re first in MLS in points/game. They’re coming off a 1-1 draw against a strong NYCFC side going into their second matchup with San Jose of 2017. The first time these teams played they drew 1-1, but San Jose is going to face a much tougher challenge traveling to Frisco. They earned a point against a very good OCSC team last week, but just a week prior they lost 3-0 to an abysmal Rapids team. FC Dallas *still* have not lost a game this season, and I don’t expect that to change this weekend.
Sunday, May 14
New England Revolution v. Columbus Crew SC – 2:30PM ET, ESPN
These two teams face each other for the second time in three weeks. In their first matchup, Columbus took down New England 2-0 at home. But the Revs will be feeling good coming off a 4-0 blowout of RSL, their second win in eight matches. New England may be below the playoff line in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, but the Revs are unbeaten at home in 2017. The Crew have a weapon of their own, though, and his name is Justin Meram. Meram is quietly building an MVP worthy season, and he’s coming off his first hat trick of his career in the Crew’s 3-2 victory over Montreal. Columbus need three points to try to keep pace with the red-hot Toronto FC, but that may prove difficult playing against a tough home side in New England.
Minnesota United FC v. Los Angeles Galaxy – 5:00PM ET, ESPN
The Loons suffered a setback last week with a tough 3-2 loss at the hands of Toronto FC. Don’t worry though, Loons Nation. Minnesota is going to bounce back in a big way this week. Yes, the Galaxy beat RBNY 3-1 last week. But LA doesn’t know what they’re in for heading north to TCF Bank Stadium. MNUFC played Toronto FC very tough in Toronto, and Toronto is arguably the best team in MLS. Therefore, by the transitive property MNUFC is the second best team in MLS. #Math. In all seriousness, though, the MNUFC faithful will be singing Wonderwall after they beat the Galaxy for their fourth win of the year.
Hot take of the week: MNUFC will come out of Week 12 in playoff position! After Sporting KC beats Vancouver and the Loons beat the Galaxy, Minnesota will slide up to 6th place in the West with 14 points. The Loons are rising indeed.
GIF of the weekend: In honor of Cap’n Tommy Mac earning the armband for the first time, I just want to remind the world that this GIF exists.