It’s week nine in MLS and the table looks to be taking shape. Will New York City, Atlanta United & Sporting Kansas City continue to impress at the top? Will Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders restore confidence and move up the tables? Find out how good their chances are this weekend below.
Friday 27th April
Vancouver Whitecaps vs Real Salt Lake
Action this week in MLS starts tonight under the Canadian Friday night lights as Vancouver welcome Real Salt Lake above the border.
Usually, Vancouver would be favourites for this clash, but their recent form leaves a question mark over that this time out.
The Whitecaps are on a three-game losing streak which began at the home of tonight’s opponents in a 2-1 loss. Since then Carl Robinson’s side have shipped eight goals in two games with six coming against Sporting Kansas City last week.
In that 6-0 loss, however, they did suffer two red cards to Efrain Juarez and Yordy Reyna which had an effect.
Looking to continue the run they started, RSL will arrive in Canada in much better spirits having beaten Colorado 3-0. However, they were helped by a Tim Horward red card.
So, if last week is anything to go by this should be a very eventful Friday night.
Saturday 28th April
Atlanta United vs Montreal Impact
Currently 2nd in the Eastern Conference and in scintillating form Atlanta come into this game as firm favourites.
They boast the top scorer in the league in Josef Martinez who’s on six goals with Miguel Almiron just behind him on four.
With the pair in such prolific form, Remi Garde’s men will need to be at their best if they are to leave the Mercedes Benz Stadium with anything.
However, its important that Montreal aren’t underestimated going into this game as they’ve shown they can turn up against some of the most feared teams in the league this year.
They triumphed over reigning champions Toronto a few weeks ago and just last week were very unlucky to fall to a 5-3 defeat against LAFC having been leading 3-1. If they’re to win, however, you’d have to think last week’s hat-trick hero Ignacio Piatti will be involved.
Toronto FC vs Chicago Fire
Talk about a Champions League hangover. Reigning champions, Toronto may have made their way all the way to the CL final, but they’ve felt the effects domestically as they sit bottom of the Eastern Conference.
Last week they were thumped 5-1 by Houston Dynamo so I wouldn’t put it past Chicago to do a job on them. Especially as the 2nd leg of that CL final was played in midweek.
Looking at Chicago themselves, coming off their victory against New York Red Bulls last week they’ll have the smell of blood fresh in their nostrils and might’ve just stumbled onto a wounded Toronto at the perfect time.
The key man for the Fire looks to be five-goal man Nemanja Nikolic but Bastian Schweinsteiger has also been in great form this season.
Philadelphia Union vs D.C. United
Moving back below the border and this game looks to be the tightest match-up so far for this weekend’s MLS action.
Both on five points, Philly and D.C. sit 9th and 10th in the Eastern Conference with identical 1-2-3 records.
It’ll probably be the visitors who come into this one more confident, however, as they managed to grind out their first win of the season against Columbus Crew a couple of weeks ago.
With a two-week break to study the essence of that win Ben Olsen will be looking to build some momentum to kick-start their season.
As for Jim Curtin, he’ll need his Philadelphia side to rediscover the drive from their season opener against New England which was when they last claimed three points.
Columbus Crew vs San Jose Earthquakes
Back in scoring mood, the Crew will be looking for Gyasi Zardes to continue his impressive start in yellow as they take to Mapfre Stadium again.
The former LA Galaxy man has bagged five goals in eight games and seems to have found his confidence again having already doubled his tally from last season.
However, they’ll need to be more alert in defence as despite losing to Orlando last week, San Jose Earthquakes showed they’d never lay down as two late Florian Jungwing goals gave them belief going into the dying seconds of the game.
Having scored two apiece in their last two games the Quakes will look to keep that up as two goals could be enough to secure three points soon.
New England Revolution vs Sporting Kansas City
After an impressive start to April, New England have struggled to kick on and that looks likely to continue this weekend.
They welcome a Sporting Kansas City side who have a SAT-NAV-like navigation to the back of the net to Gillette Stadium.
At the beginning of the season, SKC’s exploits were mostly coming from Felipe Gutierrez who currently has five MLS goals in 2018.
However, over recent weeks Johnny Russell as proved just as impressive with his hat-trick last week earning himself a place in Craig Thompson’s team of the week and taking him up to five season goals.
If SKC show up in the form they’ve continued to show this season, it’ll be hard to see Brad Freidel’s side being able to resist.
Minnesota United vs Houston Dynamo
So far this season, neither Minnesota or Houston have put together a consistent run of results, but Houston look most likely to win this encounter.
Saturday’s visitors are coming into this game having thrashed the reigning champions Toronto 5-1 last weekend.
However, that was their first win since their season opening 4-0 win over Atlanta. With both of these heavy wins coming at home and the team tasked with a road game a similar result may not be on the cards.
Talking of home form, Minnesota’s last win came at the National Sports Center against Chicago Fire in game three. Back in front of their home fans this weekend, they’ll be looking to take the upper hand and leapfrog 7th placed Houston Dynamo in the Western Conference.
In the second game involving LA and NY teams, the Red Bulls travel across the country to face LA Galaxy.
Despite the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his three goals, LA Galaxy have been quite inconsistent with two wins and two losses in four games.
Inconsistency isn’t something that has only followed the Galaxy, however, as New York Red Bulls’ form has also been topsy-tervy.
With the added stress of the Champions League, the East Coast side have won three and lost three of their last six games with a win-loss pattern.
So, going into this game its hard to see who will come out on top but its fair to say you should expect goals with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Bradley Wright-Phillips in the ranks.
Sunday 29th April
Colorado Rapids vs Orlando City
Red cards were quite frequent last weekend and Colorado fell victim to a big sending off.
Tim Howard was judged to have handled the ball outside the box and despite hanging on for most of the match, the last ten minutes saw them concede three goals.
They’ll be looking for more resilience to be shown like in that match, but the absence of Howard could cost them the game, especially considering Orlando’s form.
The Florida side have won their last four games which have coincided with Dom Dwyer’s return from injury. The striker has bagged five times this term and has proved to be pivotal in Orlando’s rise to 3rd in the Eastern Conference.
With that in mind, I see Orlando coming out on top in this game.
New York City FC vs FC Dallas
The past week has seen Patrick Vieira heavily linked with the soon-to-be vacant position at Arsenal, however, he’s still got his own team to focus on.
Following last week’s 3-0 loss to Portland Timbers, NYCFC stayed at the top of the Eastern Conference, but will need to bounce back ASAP this weekend.
Returning to Yankee Stadium this will no doubt help the Frenchman’s side as their last home game saw them run out 4-0 winners over RSL.
With NYCFC’s loss last week, however, FC Dallas may fancy themselves to rub more salt in the wounds as they’ve begun to pick up some good form.
Winning their past two games, another win could well take them to the number two spot in the West.
LAFC vs Seattle Sounders
Closing the action this weekend is a meeting between two of this season’s polar opposites.
LAFC are the new kids on the block and have impressed many with their start to MLS life which sees them take 2nd place in the Western Conference.
On the other hand, Seattle, who are one of the league’s most reputable sides are yet to properly get their season underway after reaching the MLS Cup final last season. They find themselves bottom of the Western Conference.
Last week Bob Bradley’s LAFC, showed they have the grit to turn losses into wins as they came from 3-1 down to defeat Montreal 5-3 and that is something that can really help them against a team with something to prove.
As for Seattle, they finally got their first win of the season last weekend, but the real test is if they can repeat that. This could be a crucial road trip over the course of their season as a win could confirm that they’ve stopped the rot.
Either way, I see this game being quite tight early on with LAFC coming out on top in their first home game of the season at the Banc of California Stadium.