Week 13 Preview

What can you say about Week 12? MLS gonna MLS. As we’ve said before, don’t bet on games in this league. There were definite upsets and surprises, but that happens. Don’t look too much into it if it happened to your team. Now we look forward to Week 13, the first of what I’m declaring an unofficial rivalry week.

Best game of the week: Chicago Fire v. FC Dallas – Thursday, May 25, 8:30PM ET, MLS Live

MLS Week 13 is coming out of the gate hot with this one. Second place Chicago is on a three game win streak in which they’ve beaten Seattle, Colorado and D.C. United. None of those teams are juggernauts by any means this year, which makes for an even more intriguing matchup for Chicago with FC Dallas. Are they going to be able to keep up their form playing one of the best teams in the league? Meanwhile, FC Dallas is coming off their first loss of the season. We knew they wouldn’t be able to go undefeated all year. While a home loss to San Jose may not have been what most of us expected, I don’t think it really means anything. Fluky things happen in this league all the time. FC Dallas is still widely considered the best, most complete team in MLS. Beating a hot Chicago team on the road sure would be a nice way to bounce back, though.

Worst game of the week: Colorado Rapids v. Sporting Kansas City – Saturday, May 27, 8:00PM ET, MLS Live

This game is one of the more historic rivalries in MLS. These two MLS originals have played each other dozens of times over the past 21 years. Unfortunately, with Colorado being as bad as they are, the intrigue just simply isn’t there. The Rapids are the only team in MLS with less than 10 points on the year. They’re averaging a paltry 0.6 points per match. They aren’t quite on pace for the fewest points in a 34-game MLS season (that honor belongs to the three win 2013 D.C. United team that amassed 16 points), but they aren’t that far off, either. Sporting KC, on the other hand, sits atop the Western Conference with 22 points, despite a 2-0 loss at Vancouver last week. While true that anything can happen in MLS, there isn’t much reason to expect anything less than a dominant SKC win on Saturday night.

The rest:

Friday, May 26

Toronto FC v. Columbus Crew – 7:00PM ET, MLS Live

At this point, I’ll be surprised if Toronto FC is NOT playing on a Friday night. It seems like they play a weekday game nearly every week. The Canadian Championship starting this week doesn’t help, either, as they’ve already faced—and lost to—the Ottawa Fury on Tuesday. But back to this matchup… This is already the third installment in 2017 of the very prestigious Trillium Cup. As it stands currently, the series is split 1-1, with both teams earning 2-1 victories in each of the first two matchups. Unlike those games, however, this one is in Toronto, which is a huge advantage for TFC. If we’ve learned anything from MLS this year, it’s that it is very hard to win on the road, no matter who you are. Columbus has managed to win two of their six road matches so far, but Toronto FC is by far the toughest road opponent they’ve faced yet. I’m not sure the Trillium Cup is in the cards for the Crew this year.

Saturday, May 27

Seattle Sounders FC v. Portland Timbers – 2:30PM ET, FOX

This is generally considered the best rivalry in MLS. No matter what, it’s always a game to watch when these two teams play, which is why it’s a national TV matchup on FOX (real FOX, not FS1). Portland started off the season incredibly hot and was looking like one of the best teams in MLS. A four game winless streak has brought the Timbers back down to earth a bit. Their 4-1 loss to Montreal last week was nothing short of embarrassing. PTFC will be without midfielder Diego Chara who will be suspended for hitting Piatti in the face last week. The Sounders are coming off a 1-0 home win against RSL, but more telling perhaps was their 3-0 midweek loss to Sporting KC. They played KC tough in the first half, but once SKC turned it on in the 2nd half Seattle was totally outmatched. As much as Seattle has struggled, though, they’re just three points out of a playoff spot right now. What better way to jump start your season than by beating your arch rivals?

Vancouver Whitecaps FC v. D.C. United – 7:00PM ET, MLS Live

I’m not sure there’s really much to say about this one, to be honest. D.C. United is not good this year. They’re in the midst of a three game losing streak. They are not good on the road (outside of their anomaly win at Atlanta). Vancouver, like most other teams in MLS, is much stronger at home and were impressive in their 2-0 victory over SKC last weekend. The Whitecaps are 3-1 in their last four MLS matchups, and will more than likely turn that into 4-1 in their last five after this weekend. Sorry, D.C.

New York Red Bulls v. New England Revolution – 7:30PM ET, MLS Live

Man, the Red Bulls are in a serious skid right now. Sure, they drew the hottest team in MLS 1-1, but they were at home when they did it. As bad as RBNY has looked recently, they need to do more than draw at home if they have any hope of turning things around and staying in the playoff picture. RBNY is winless in their last four matchups, and they’ve only scored twice in that stretch. The Revs are on a little bit of a hot stretch. They’ve won two in a row over RSL and Columbus. They sit just a single point behind the Red Bulls and have the potential to vault all the way up to 5th in the East depending on how things play out this weekend. This is a fairly important Easter Conference matchups for both teams, as they could be fighting each other for the final playoff spot come the end of the season.

Minnesota United FC v. Orlando City SC – 8:00PM ET, MLS Live

The first installment of the Adrian Heath Derby is upon us, and I for one could not be more excited. Many of you are probably tempted to write this game off as an easy OCSC victory, but I’m not so sure. MNUFC has started to look like a decent mid-table team over the past month or so. Yes, they’re in the midst of a two game losing streak, but they played TFC incredibly tough at BMO and lost to the Galaxy last week on the road. Returning to Minneapolis is exactly what the Loons need right now. OCSC has been bad on the road this year outside of their early season victory over NYCFC. #CanadianMessi may get a goal or two, but I don’t think a draw or Minnesota win would be surprising. We at TMLS, being the Loons men and women that we are, certainly hope to see three points for the men of Minnesota. Come on you Loons!

Real Salt Lake v. Philadelphia Union – 8:00PM ET, MLS Live

Mike Petke’s men actually showed some signs of life last week. Yeah, they lost 1-0 on the road to Seattle, but they beat NYCFC 2-1 at home during the midweek matchup. They still have a long way to go before things are straightened out, though. Their -13 goal differential remains worst in the league. They sit 10th in the West with only 11 points through 13 matches. And they’re facing one of the hottest, if not THE hottest, team in MLS right now. I’m not sure where this came from or why it’s happening, but Philadelphia is riding a four game winning streak and six game undefeated streak. They’ve scored at least two goals in each of their four victories, and they’ve only allowed one during that time, which came last week against Colorado. I certainly don’t think this can last much longer, though, and RSL could be a trap game for the Union if they look down the schedule to their June 3 matchup at NYCFC.

San Jose Earthquakes v. Los Angeles Galaxy – 10:00PM ET, Univision, facebook.com

Like Portland v. Seattle, the Cali Classico is always a game to pay attention to, if for no other reason than the history of the series. Yes, this is a different Earthquakes team than we had when the league began, but the bad blood between the two clubs is still there. Both of these teams are on the upswing, too, which makes this game even more exciting. San Jose just handed FC Dallas their first loss of the year, and they did it in Frisco. LA is starting to click, with a two game win streak and four game unbeaten streak on the line. The fact that this game is at Avaya certainly helps the Earthquakes, but anything is possible in rivalry matchups. If you have nowhere to be on Sunday morning, I’d recommend staying up late and tuning into this one.

Sunday, May 28

Atlanta United FC v. New York City FC – 5:00PM ET, ESPN

This is the second time these two teams will face each other this month. NYC took the first matchup 3-1 in a dominant fashion on May 7 at Yankee Stadium. City lost in embarrassing fashion to RSL, but they bounced back in a big way when they handed Orlando City their first loss at Orlando City Stadium. A 3-0 road victory against any team is impressive, but it’s even more impressive coming against one of the most formidable home sides in the league. Atlanta United finally showed flashes of their early season form in their 4-1 dominating win over Houston. Despite that, they still sit 9th in the East, and their star striker Josef Martinez is still a week or two away from returning according to reports. If Atlanta is going to be the team their fans think they are, they need to win games like this one. If they can’t do it, well, sorry ATL fans. You may have to accept that you might just be a mediocre expansion side this year.

FC Dallas v. Houston Dynamo – 8:00PM ET, Fox Sports 1

The Texas Derby is not a bad way to end an unofficial rivalry week. Even if these teams weren’t two of the better teams in the West this year, the battle for “El Capitan” would be interesting. Their success so far just makes this matchup even better. Both teams had weeks to forget last week, for very different reasons. As mentioned before, FC Dallas lost their first game of the year. Hardly reason to panic. Houston got smoked 4-1 on the road by Atlanta. As good as Houston has been this season—they sit tied with Dallas for 2nd in the West with 19 points right now—I can’t say I’m surprised by the result. The nature of the Wilmer’s team this year is boom or bust. They tend to either win or lose big, with few draws or one-goal games so far in 2017. Houston has been very bad on the road, and we know how good FC Dallas is, so I think this one will be tough for the Dynamo.

Hot take of the week: Adrian Heath and the Loons will not only win the inaugural Adrian Heath Derby, they will dominate OCSC. The emotion of returning home will be a huge factor, and the Loons will be singing “Wonderwall” with their fans once the clock strikes 90:00.

GIF of the week: Normally I go with funny GIFs, and we certainly had those last week, but what Schweinsteiger did to D.C. United last week cannot go unrecognized. The only thing that would have made this better is if Nikolic nailed the shot (which he should have). Props to Schweiny, though. He’s clearly got stuff left in the tank.