Week 17 Preview: Midweek Version
We’ve got another jam-packed week of MLS soccer, beginning with four Wednesday games. Technically we aren’t quite to Heineken Rivalry Week™ yet (MLSSoccer.com says that begins June 23), and the games tonight aren’t great, but hey, it’s soccer.
Best game of the week: Seattle Sounders FC v. Orlando City SC – Wednesday, June 21, 9:30PM ET, MLS Live
Okay, I can’t say this is a fantastic game, but it’s the best of what we have. Seattle fell to NYCFC last week in the pouring rain thanks to a brace by David Villa, including a late 77’ goal to win the game. It was a frustrating result for the Sounders, who feel they had a result stolen from them and questioned the legitimacy of the PK given to David Villa in the 51’. For as frustrating of a week as Seattle had, Orlando City had it worse. They lost forward Cyle Larin to suspension after his DUI arrest, and he’ll be out once again this week while he completes the MLS Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health program. Orlando was able to barely squeak out a draw at home against a bad Montreal team without #CanadianMessi, so I’m not sure they have much hope of earning a result on the road in Seattle.
Worst game of the week: Minnesota United FC v. Portland Timbers – Wednesday, June 21, 7:00PM ET, MLS Live
I’m sorry Loons Nation. Our beloved Minnesota United FC has fallen out of form in recent weeks. They’ve only won one game in their last five, losing the four other games, including a 1-0 loss at the hands of a struggling RSL side last week. MNUFC also have the worst xGA (expected goals against) in the league at 29.59, almost a full goal and a half worse than RSL. Portland on paper is one of the best attacking sides in the league. They may hot have quite lived up to their potential so far, but they’re still very potent and are ranked in the top half of the league in both xG and are even better in actual goals scored. These two teams faced off once in the very first week of the season, which, granted wasn’t quite the same Loons team as now, but Portland dismantled MNUFC 5-1 in that game. I don’t think it’ll be quite that one-sided this time around, but 3-1 certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Wednesday, June 21
D.C. United v. Atlanta United FC – 6:30PM ET, MLS Live
D.C. United has been arguably the worst team in MLS this season. They’re last in the Eastern conference with 15 points, just one more than the MLS worst MNUFC. D.C.’s offense is historically bad, though. They’ve only scored ten goals through 15 games, and they’ve gone into panic mode. This week they gave up $175,000 in allocation money and an international roster spot to acquire Jamaican forward Deshorn Brown, who was playing in the USL with the Tampa Bay Rowdies. The fact that DCU was willing to send give up so much for the right to sign a USL player tells you just about all you need to know about the state of the club. Atlanta United has been playing a bit better as of late, winning three of their last five games. They now have striker Josef Martinez back, which will be a huge boost to their playoff push. The thing with ATLUTD, though, is that their offense likely isn’t quite as good as people think. They have a league high 30 goals, but their xG is only 16.97. That’s good enough for 19th place in a league of 22 teams. Take from that what you will.
Colorado Rapids v. Los Angeles Galaxy – 8:00PM ET, MLS Live
Don’t look now, but Colorado is going for their fourth straight MLS victory. If you didn’t realize that, I don’t blame you. Despite three straight wins, Colorado still has a measly 16 points and sits tenth in the Western Conference, barely above MNUFC. LA Galaxy is unbeaten in their last seven matches, all of which have been without midfielder Jermaine Jones. Jones probably will be out again this week, and LA weirdly are very strong on the road, with an MLS best 4-2-1 record on the road. Colorado doesn’t let many goals through, but given how good LA can be on the road, the Galaxy have a legitimate shot at earning a result.
Hot take of the week: D.C. United will beat Atlanta United. I know ATL have Josef Martinez back, but their G:xG ratio simply is not sustainable. Atlanta United is also near the bottom of the league in xGA. I know D.C. hasn’t been able to score, but I think they’ll do just enough to get the three points at home.