Week 10 is here, and with it comes not one, but TWO midweek games. We have a couple of good ones this week, too, with SKC v. RBNY and TFC v. OCSC. All four of these teams are surging and playing some of the best soccer in MLS. Outside of that, other exciting matchups include a 2016 MLS Cup rematch, Cubo v. #CanadianMessi Cyle Larin and the battle of most angry fans in NYCFC v. Atlanta United FC. This should be a fun week. Let’s get to it.
Best game of the week: Seattle Sounders FC v. Toronto FC – Saturday, May 6, 3:00PM ET, ESPN
Okay, so neither of these teams are where they’d like to be in the standings. Both teams have gotten off to a slow start, Seattle in particular. Sounders fans know better than anyone though, not to worry about standings too early. They weren’t even in playoff position until the very end of the season last year. Having said that, they can’t make a habit of going down 3-0 and making a furious comeback in the last fifteen minutes of the game like they did last week against the Revs. It’s great that they have the firepower to score so quickly, but they need to find a bit of consistency to get going on track. Toronto FC seems to have righted their ship. They’re currently on a two game win streak and Giovinco looks like himself again. This will be a fun one in Seattle. If I were a betting man, I’d say there will actually be shots on goal in this one, too.
Worst game of the week: Philadelphia Union v. New York Red Bulls – Saturday, May 6, 7:00PM ET, MLS Live
There’s not much to say here other than until the Union actually win a game I expect they’ll continue to be the default worst game of the week. Their 0-0 draw with the Galaxy last week was exactly as boring as I expected it to be. This one won’t end scoreless, but it won’t be due to the Union. The Red Bulls are finally starting to hit their stride. They’ve won three in a row, scoring twice in each victory. RBNY may have a tough midweek match against Sporting KC at Children’s Mercy Park, but that won’t be much of a factor in this game. The Red Bulls are just significantly better than Philly (as is the rest of MLS).
Wednesday, May 3
Toronto FC v. Orlando City SC – 7:30PM ET, MLS Live
This is a really fun game, and were it not for an MLS Cup rematch on national TV this would have been my best game of the week. Who doesn’t want to watch two of the top strikers in the league go head-to-head? #CanadianMessi Cyle Larin is on pace to be squarely in the midst of the Golden Boot and MVP races. I wouldn’t be surprised if Giovinco ends up there as well, despite his slow start to the year. Orlando City is playing better soccer than anyone else in MLS right now and has the most points in the league with 18. Will they be able to continue their form on the road in Toronto? TFC is on a two game win streak where they’ve beaten Chicago and Houston by a combined score of 5-1. I expect both sides to score many goals in this game.
Sporting KC v. New York Red Bulls – 8:30PM ET, MLS Live
If Orlando City is playing the best soccer in the league right now, Sporting KC isn’t far behind. They’ve lost only once all year when they went on the road to Dallas, a forgivable loss. Their defense is still best in the league, having only allowed three goals in eight matches all year. Will they be able to keep it up against a potent RBNY offense? As mentioned earlier, RBNY are currently on a three game winning streak, although all three of those games were at Red Bull Arena. Children’s Mercy Park is consistently one of the hardest places to play, and teams often park the bus and play for a draw. RBNY may come out strong to test SKC’s defense early, but if they don’t break through in the first 15-20 minutes they may be content to sit back, play for a draw and rest for their matchup against Philly on Saturday where they’ll find an easier three points.
Friday, May 5
Colorado Rapids v. Vancouver Whitecaps FC – 10:00PM ET, MLS Live
If Philly weren’t so bad, this would be the worst game of the week. As bad as Philly is, Colorado isn’t much better. In fact, Centennial 38, the Rapids’ largest supporters group, issued a public statement saying how unhappy they are with the direction of the club. Can you really blame them? Last year the club was in the hunt for the Supporters’ Shield. This year they’re about as far from that as they can be. Meanwhile, Vancouver is finally starting to find some of their footing in the Western Conference. They’ve been a bit inconsistent, but they’ve won two of their last three matchups with wins against rivals Seattle and Montreal. Even their loss on the road against Portland was competitive. Colorado may be getting star keeper Tim Howard back, but their four game losing streak (and six game winless streak) doesn’t inspire much confidence.
Saturday, May 6
D.C. United v. Montreal Impact – 6:00PM ET, MLS Live
These two 2016 playoff teams are playing like anything but so far in 2017. Neither can score goals at a consistent rate. Neither can really stop goals very well, either. D.C. surprised the rest of the league with a pretty dominant road win in Atlanta, but something tells me that’s more of an exception rather than the norm. Despite the 3-1 win, D.C. sits eighth in the Eastern Conference with a -4 goal differential. The Impact are slightly better at a -3 goal differential, but they’re four points behind D.C. and sit in tenth in the Eastern Conference table. This probably shouldn’t be too surprising for Impact fans, though. They had a -4 goal differential on the season last year. Only two other playoff teams had negative goal differentials: Philadelphia (-3) and RSL (-2). That’s not great company. Although neither team is playing well this year, D.C. should feel confident heading home against a struggling Impact team after last week’s road win.
Columbus Crew SC v. New England Revolution – 7:30PM ET, MLS Live
I was very skeptical of the Crew before the season started. In fact, I picked them to be worst in MLS (yes, even below MNUFC). Well, that doesn’t look like it will happen, but the Crew have certainly crashed back down to earth fast after their incredibly hot start. They took ten of a possible fifteen points to start the season. Since then, they’ve only taken three of a possible twelve points. What’s the real Crew? Probably a mediocre team somewhere in the middle. New England is in the midst of a four game winless streak and is struggling to find their identity this season. Any given week they may score four goals or give up four goals. The Revs still haven’t won on the road this season, and I don’t anticipate that will change this week.
Houston Dynamo v. Orlando City SC – 8:30PM ET, MLS Live
This has the potential to be one of the most exciting matchups of the week, right up there with TFC v. OCSC. Cubo sits atop the Golden Boot race with seven goals. #CanadianMessi Cyle Larin is right on his heels at six. Houston will be glad to be at home after a tough 2-0 road loss in Toronto last week where Wilmer Cabrera’s side looked totally outmatched. They’re much more comfortable at home where they’ve taken thirteen of fifteen possible points. OCSC will be sure to test the Dynamo’s home form, though. I already mentioned that OCSC is playing better than just about anyone else in the league. I think there’s a good chance Orlando City spoils the Dynamo’s unbeaten home streak.
Real Salt Lake v. FC Dallas – 9:30PM ET, MLS Live
There’s one team in MLS that still hasn’t lost a game, and that’s FC Dallas. There are four teams tied for the most losses in the league at five, and RSL is one of those teams. Where does that leave us for this game? Well, it’s not looking good for RSL. They lost 3-0 on the road to Sporting KC last week, but honestly it could have been 5 or 6-0 were it not for a couple of blown opportunities by Dom Dwyer. Simply put, RSL is not playing good soccer right now. FC Dallas drew with Portland 2-2 last week, but Portland is in first in the Western Conference, so a draw really isn’t something to be too upset about. I just don’t see any way RSL’s below-average offense breaks through against Dallas’ fantastic defense, and I don’t think RSL’s struggling defense will be able to contain the high-powered offense of FC Dallas.
Los Angeles Galaxy v. Chicago Fire – 10:30PM ET, MLS Live
If Curt Onalfo’s seat was hot last week, it is definitely a bit more scorching this week. LA Galaxy fans are not used to scoreless home draws with the worst team in MLS, but that’s exactly what happened. It’s not just the team’s on field form that’s concerning. Reports from the locker room say players look dejected, or even worse aren’t showing emotion at all. Once players move beyond disappointment and frustration to complacency it shows the coach has lost their confidence altogether. Things in LA are about to reach a breaking point if something doesn’t change soon. Chicago looked great in their first three games with Schweinsteiger, but they’ve regressed drastically in their last two games, 3-1 and 2-1 road losses to Toronto and RBNY respectively. Chicago has been DREADFUL on the road. When they take the field Saturday, they will have only won one road game in 1029 days (against Montreal last year). Their last win against LA was in 2010. So, what will break first: Chicago’s terrible road form and struggles against LA or the downward spiral of the Galaxy?
San Jose Earthquakes v. Portland Timbers – 10:30PM ET, MLS Live
The good thing for San Jose is that this game is at Avaya Stadium. They’ve played four home games this season, winning twice against Montreal and Vancouver and drawing twice against Seattle and FC Dallas. It’s their unbeaten home form that really gives them any hope of a result against Portland. The Timbers enter the match with an MLS best +8 goal differential. San Jose, on the other hand, has a -1 goal differential. What’s more, the Timbers have scored more than double the goals of the Earthquakes this season. San Jose may be coming off their first win in seven matches, but the Timbers will pose just a bit more of a challenge than MNUFC.
Sunday, May 7
Sporting Kansas City v. Minnesota United FC – 1:30PM ET, Fox Sports 1
Sporting Kansas City may have visited Minneapolis to take on MNUFC once before in U.S. Open Cup play, but this will mark their first trip to Minnesota for an MLS matchup as they head north to take on America’s team, the Loons. SKC’s unbeaten streak ended a couple weeks back with a 1-0 road loss to FC Dallas, but they sure bounced back with a 3-0 thrashing of Real Salt Lake. Their defense still looks best in the league, which isn’t great news for the struggling offense of Minnesota United. The Loons looked like they might be turning things around when they got their first clean sheet against the Rapids and earned their second win of the season, but the 1-0 loss to San Jose did little to inspire confidence in the Loons improvement. Batman and Superman will have their work cut out for them facing Tim Melia, who is allowing a staggering 0.375 goals/match. If SKC is firing on all cylinders, this one could get ugly fast.
New York City FC v. Atlanta United FC – 4:00PM ET, UniMás, facebook.com
If I had to pick a fan base to label the angriest, these two would certainly be right up at the top of that list. Both seem to have an “us against the world” chip on their shoulder mentality, which is funny considering just how much money both of these clubs have poured into their rosters. City fans just seem to have that “screw you” New York attitude, while Atlanta fans are mad that the rest of the league hasn’t dubbed them the best organization in MLS despite having played less than one-quarter of a season. On the field, both of these teams have been decent to pretty good, but neither has really clicked and reached their full potential. NYCFC seems to be trending upwards, while Atlanta is heading in the wrong direction. ATLUTD will have a hard time getting back on track this week as they head to Yankee Stadium for the first time.
Hot take of the week: Orlando City and #CanadianMessi will take six out of a possible six points from two road matches. Kaka’s return combined with the attacking power of Larin will be too much for TFC and the Houston Dynamo to handle.
GIF of the week: Did you know that Jermaine Jones is a karate master? I didn’t. This post does now, though.