Week 28 Preview

We have a full week of MLS action ahead, and it begins tonight! Atlanta United will take the field at their new Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the second time, FC Dallas tries to stop their eight game winless streak, and eight Western Conference teams will continue their fight for six playoff spots. At this point in the season just about every game impacts the playoff race in some way. What a time to be an MLS fan!

Best game of the week: FC Dallas v. Seattle Sounders – Saturday, September 16, 8:00PM ET, MLS Live

FC Dallas is in bad shape. Like, really bad. We knew the likelihood of them winning on the road in Atlanta at the opening of the brand new Mercedes-Benz stadium was small, but they could’ve shown up in some way. Instead, FCD took a 3-0 beating that extended their winless streak to eight games. On the flip side, Seattle, too, had an underwhelming performance while facing the LA Galaxy at home. They earned a point, but a 1-1 draw at home is hardly what Sounders fans expected out of that match. Seattle did extend its undefeated streak to 12 games, though. They now face FC Dallas on the road in the first of two meetings over the next month, both of which will be huge games for the two teams. Seattle is fighting for a top two spot in the West while FC Dallas is struggling just to stay above the line. This may not be the match with the best soccer of the week, but it’s certainly the match with the most on the line for both teams.

Worst game of the week: LA Galaxy v. Toronto FC – Saturday, September 9, 10:30PM ET, MLS Live

There’s a few reasons why this game really may not be worth your time.

  1. Toronto already is guaranteed a spot in the playoffs, and barring an historic collapse they will finish in first in the East. They don’t have much to play for.
  2. Giovinco and Jozy Altidore are not even travelling to Los Angeles for the game. Why? See reason #1.
  3. The Galaxy are involved, and they are very bad at soccer. And they are even worse at home. Which probably is why TFC feel totally fine leaving their top two scoring threats at home.
  4. Alessandrini and Jones are out for the Galaxy due to yellow card accumulation. Oh, you thought LA might have a chance against a shorthanded TFC team? Lol.

Moral of the story? LA is bad. Toronto is good. Don’t watch this game.

The rest:

Wednesday, September 13

Atlanta United FC v. New England Revolution – 7:00PM ET, MLS Live

It’s a good time to be an Atlanta United fan. The team just played it’s first game in the gorgeous Mercedes-Benz Stadium, demolishing FC Dallas 3-0 and extending their home unbeaten streak to eight straight. ATLUTD is right back at MBS tonight to face the Revs, and they have to be feeling good about this one. The Revs may go the entire season without winning a road game, and Atlanta United will ride the high of their new stadium for the rest of the season. This will be the first matchup between these two clubs, but it’s not a good one for New England. The Revs defense has struggled all year long, and they will be facing one of the best young attacking sides in MLS. If Atlanta take all three points, they’ll be a full six points clear of Montreal and still have a game in hand, all but sealing their ticket to the postseason in their inaugural season.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC v. Minnesota United FC – 10:00PM ET, MLS Live

Don’t look now, but Vancouver is in third place in the Western Conference. They also have at least a game in hand on everyone else in the West, and two and three in hand on Seattle and Portland respectively who are the two teams ahead of the Whitecaps. How many of you realized that Vancouver could be the first place team in the West when it’s all said and done? I’m not sure how they’ve done it, but the Whitecaps have quietly put together a very strong year. The biggest advantage Vancouver has had is their road form; The only team with a better road record than the Whitecaps is Toronto. If Vancouver can go on the road and earn points, that will be a huge advantage in the playoffs. They’re also fairly strong at home, too, which means they should easily take all three points at BC Place against the Loons, who have one only a single game on the road all year. If that happens, the Whitecaps will be tied for first place in the West on points heading into the weekend.

Saturday, September 16

Atlanta United FC v. Orlando City SC – 3:55PM ET, Univision, facebook.com

Good news, bad news for Atlanta in this one. The good news is they’re back at Mercedes-Benz stadium for the third game in a row. The bad news is it’s on an extremely short turnaround. They play a Wednesday night game and get only two days off before playing an afternoon game on Saturday. Even without any travel that’s tough. Orlando has become a rival-of-sorts for ATLUTD this year, mostly because of how much the two fanbases hate each other. When it comes to competition on the field, though, it’s really not close. Orlando will miss the playoffs for the third straight year, while Atlanta will likely comfortably march into the postseason. That’s not going to sit well with Orlando fans. Now with their star summer signing Dom Dwyer making statements about a Premier League move, OCSC fans will be particularly short-tempered. The calls for Kreis’ job will only get louder as we near the end of the season.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC v.  Columbus Crew SC – 7:00PM ET, MLS Live

I already talked about the opportunity Vancouver has to jump to first in the West in their midweek game, but if they can earn back-to-back home victories they’ll almost certainly be atop the West when the weekend is done. It’s a very realistic possibility, too, since Columbus is only slightly better on the road than Minnesota. Columbus really needs to get some points out of this game if they want to have any hope of hosting a knockout round playoff game. The Crew are just barely holding on to fourth place sitting two points ahead of the Red Bulls, but they’ve also played two more games than New York and FOUR more games than Atlanta. They cannot afford to lose really any games from here on out, but winning at Vancouver may just be too tall of an order for the Crew.

Montreal Impact v. Minnesota United FC – 7:30PM ET, MLS Live

At this point it will be very hard for Montreal to actually make the playoffs, but it’s not impossible. The first thing they need to do is beat Minnesota at home. The Crew are only three points out of sixth, but the team they’re most likely to jump is actually the Crew. Yes, IMFC are seven points behind Columbus, but they have two games in hand. While they can’t make up seven points in two games, they can take back six of those if things go right, putting them only one point behind the Crew while even on games. That’s certainly something that can be made up in the last four or five games of the year. The Loons find themselves on the road for the second time this week. If MNUFC come out of these two road games with any points whatsoever it’s probably a success for the Loons.

Chicago Fire v. D.C. United – 8:30PM ET, MLS Live

At this point Chicago probably aren’t going to earn a first round playoff bye, but they still will more than likely host a knockout round playoff game. That’s a pretty good turnaround from last year when they finished dead last in points in the league with 31. The question really is are they going to finish third or fourth in the East? Either way, they’d host a knockout round game, but assuming they win that knockout round game that single position in the table is the difference between facing NYCFC—a strong, but beatable team—or Toronto FC in the conference semi-finals. The Fire are usually hard to earn points against at Toyota park, but Chicago has only managed to earn one point from their last three games at home. D.C. United lost their last game 2-1 to Orlando City at home, and traveling to Chicago won’t be any easier.

Sporting Kansas City v. New England Revolution – 8:30PM ET, MLS Live

Sporting KC will be thrilled to get back to Children’s Mercy Park after a rough two game road stretch. SKC looked like they would earn a tough road point at NYCFC only to have it taken away late in the game by an 84’ Jack Harrison goal. Kansas City then looked to get the full three points at MAPFRE against the Crew, but an Ola Kamara header off a corner kick earned a draw for the Crew. Sporting KC definitely could have used more than one point out of their last two games, and they now find themselves in fourth in the West, albeit they’re only three points behind the first place Timbers with two games in hand. As I said earlier, New England is not a good road team, so chances of them earning points in this game are slim-to-none. The most interesting storyline will be whether former SKC man Krisztian Nemeth plays. He’s appeared twice for the Revs totaling nine minutes, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he played more this week. How will Sporting KC fans react? I wouldn’t be surprised to hear a smattering of applause and boos.

Colorado Rapids v. New York City FC – 9:00PM ET, MLS Live

The only good news for the Rapids is this game is at home. Other than that, there isn’t much for Colorado fans to look forward to in this one. NYCFC is one of the better road sides in MLS, and Colorado is, well, Colorado. The Rapids offense is among the worst in MLS and their defense is not what it once was. A -16 goal differential is not going to get it done against David Villa, Maxi Moralez, Jack Harrison and Co. Taking all three points would assure that NYCFC stays at least five points clear of Chicago, a deficit that, while not impossible, will be very hard to make up with just five games left for each team after this week.

Real Salt Lake v. Portland Timbers – 9:30PM ET, MLS Live

Last time these two teams faced off Real Salt Lake shocked the world when they won 4-1 at Providence Park. In the eight games since then, RSL has only lost twice and has worked their way up to within two points of playoff position. In reality, if Salt Lake has any hope of making the playoffs they need to take every home point they have left, and that includes this game against Portland. The Timbers surprised everyone (myself included) when they went on the road and beat NYCFC. Granted, they played a sub-par NYCFC side without David Villa, but a win is a win. While that will give the Timbers some confidence heading into this match, they certainly won’t be taking it likely. RSL is 5-2-3 (W-L-D) since June 30 and has been playing playoff-level soccer. This should be a fun game to watch.

San Jose Earthquakes v. Houston Dynamo – 10:30PM ET, MLS Live

It wasn’t long ago that Houston was sitting pretty atop the Western Conference. Now they’re fighting for a spot in the playoffs at all. Which team is the most threatening right now? Yep, it’s San Jose. The Earthquakes are only two points behind the Dynamo in the standings, meaning a win for the Earthquakes this week and they at minimum jump Houston and sit in sixth place. Depending on what happens with FC Dallas, San Jose could move as high as fifth place with a win. Houston fans won’t be feeling good about this one, either. The Dynamo are a mere 1-8-5 on the road this year, while San Jose has only lost once at Avaya this season. Houston has beat San Jose twice already this year by a combined score of 5-0, but both games were at BBVA Compass Stadium. San Jose will be looking to bounce back in a big way from their horrendous road defeat at the hands of TFC, and what better way than to beat the team your fighting against for a playoff spot?

Sunday, September 17

New York Red Bulls v. Philadelphia Union – 1:00PM ET, ESPN

It’s all but assured that the Red Bulls will be in the postseason. The question is where will they stand come season’s end? RBNY sits fifth right now, but they’re only two points behind the Crew with two games in hand. There’s a massive difference between fourth and fifth place, as one means you host a knockout round game and the other means you go on the road. The Red Bulls could use all three points from this game to help move their way up the table, and that should be very doable. Philadelphia is one of the worst road teams in MLS. These two teams have already played twice, both games at Talon Energy Stadium in Philadelphia and splitting the games with a win apiece. RBNY is on a four game winless streak, but they’ll more than likely break that on Sunday.

Hot take of the week: Vancouver will be in first place in the West after this week with 47 points. Home games against Minnesota and Columbus are very winnable games, and a road win for Portland will be tough.

GIF of the week: Fine, it’s not a GIF. But Alexi spewing fire takes is the clear choice this week.