Following midweek MLS action, the football returns to the weekend with some great games around the league. There are big teams trying to restore honour near the bottom of the table, top of the table clashes and other teams who simply need to get three points out of this weekend.
Friday 11th May
Vancouver Whitecaps vs Houston Dynamo
The weekend’s action starts in Canada as a topsy tervy Vancouver Whitecaps side host the defiant Houston Dynamo.
The home side have lost four of their last five games and have been a shadow of the team they were expected to be.
Last week, despite having a man extra and dominating the game they fell to Minnesota United who have surprised a few people with their performances this year. Carl Robinson, however, will be hoping a return home will push his side to victory as their only win in five came at BC Place against RSL.
As for Houston, they also lost to Minnesota, but bounced back with a dramatic late win against Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s LA Galaxy.
The win added to their other impressive wins over big sides in Toronto FC and Atlanta United but whether they can do the same in Canada will be a big ask.
All three of those victories came at Dynamo’s home stadium but in the form, Vancouver find themselves in, that first away win of the season could be on the horizon.
Saturday 12th May
Minnesota United vs San Jose Earthquakes
As you saw above, Minnesota have impressed so far this season and currently find themselves 5th in the Eastern Conference.
Following their victory over Vancouver, however, they were in midweek action against LAFC who took a deserved 2-0 victory.
One player that almost made a difference for Minnesota was Darwin Quintero who hit the post, so Mikael Stahre will be hoping he continues to be a threat.
With their last two home games seeing wins, this may also encourage Stahre’s side as the take to TCF Bank Stadium.
San Jose on the other hand sit bottom of the Western Conference and are in dire need of points. They haven’t won an MLS game since the season opener and they’ll definitely be hoping for more of the same as that game was against Minnesota.
So, they know they’re capable of coming out on top against the Loops, especially with their defensive record:
22 – Minnesota has conceded in 22 consecutive @MLS road games, tied for the third-longest such streak since the start of 2010. The Loons have allowed multiple goals in all but three of those games. Uncomfortable.
— OptaJack⚽️ (@OptaJack) May 10, 2018
Montreal Impact vs Philadelphia Union
Following the thrashing of New England on the weekend, Remi Garde’s Montreal resumed usual order with a loss on the road to Chicago Fire.
Montreal started the season in decent fashion but with five losses already on the board, this season could be slipping away from the Canadians.
The big factor that might swing the game in Montreal’s direction, however, is Ignacio Piatti who claimed three assists and a goal last week. The 33-year-old has been has now matched his assist tally for last year and will need to continue to be as influential as usual if Montreal are to win:
78.6 – Ignacio Piatti has had a hand in 78.6% of @impactmontreal’s goals in 2018 (11 of their 14 goals – five goals, six assists), No other @MLS player has had a hand in more than 60%. Linchpin.
— OptaJack⚽️ (@OptaJack) May 10, 2018
Like Montreal, Philadelphia have struggled this season and find themselves 9th in the Eastern Conference.
Coming of the back of a midweek road trip loss at Columbus Crew I can’t envisage them getting anything away from this game. Especially has they’re without a win on the road in 15 games.
FC Dallas vs LA Galaxy
FC Dallas have shown glimpses of brilliance this year but with just one loss to their name (against NYCFC) they have proved to be a solid unit.
However, with Giovanni Dos Santos, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ola Kamara coming into form this may be the biggest test yet for them.
Although the Galaxy’s form is questionable at the moment, their counter attacking ability has proven to be lethal. Managing to put the ball into the back of the net seven times in the last two games (four counted), the side are definitely beginning to gel and sooner or later, every shot that goes in will count.
The Galaxy will also be coming into this one with extra motivation as a win could see them jump level on points (13) with FC Dallas and move into play-off contention.
Dallas will be confident when hosting LA Galaxy though as Maximialliano Urruti is also hitting form.
They’ll also be looking to continue ‘tradition’ having not lost to the Galaxy since September 2015. A repeat of last year’s 5-1 victory wouldn’t hurt either.
Columbus Crew vs Chicago Fire
Columbus Crew will be hoping the fire from their great start to 2018 has been rekindled after returning to winning ways against Philly in midweek.
One player who was key in that early season push was Gyasi Zardes who was back amongst the goals with his sixth of the season:
✅ Right time
✅RIGHT INTO THE BACK OF THE NET#CrewSC | @gyasinho | #CLBvPHI pic.twitter.com/TA4jOPR8kE
— Columbus Crew SC (@ColumbusCrewSC) May 10, 2018
With this confidence boost, Zardes will need to take to the pitch with his shooting boots ready as Chicago have shown they can also be very dangerous.
They may be sitting outside of the play-off places in 8th but this season, with the help of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Chicago have been prolific at times. And coming off a dominant performance against Montreal should give them a lift going away to the Crew.
Furthermore, top scorer Nemanja Nikolic (5) will be looking to divert the football into rather than away from the goal like he did in midweek.
New England Revolution vs Toronto FC
Brad Freidel has had quite the balanced start to life in management with New England. He’s seen his side score as well as concede four, go toe-to-toe with the league’s best and fall on the end of upsets.
Right now, New England sit 6th in the Eastern Conference and face a big test to stay in that play-off spot.
Following their early disappointment, Toronto are slowly coming back into form with four points from their last two games.
Finding their feet again could mean that we may see the Toronto of last year but even if that is the case New England may not be scared.
Top scorer, Teal Benbury (4) has come up with some important finishes recently and with the last four of these meetings going in favour of the home team, he could play a big part again.
Colorado Rapids vs New York Red Bulls
Colorado Rapids have hit a sour patch having only scored once in their last four games with three of those ending in a loss.
The five goals of Dominque Badji have helped them scrape to 10th in the West but this weekend will be a huge test for the Rapids.
New York Red Bulls come into this came full of confidence after despatching local rivals New York City FC 4-0 last week.
Bradley Wright-Phillips kept his great scoring record up with his 10th in the derby’s history and sixth of the season. However, it isn’t just BWP who’s impressing for the Red Bulls. This season, new Designated Player, Kaku has set MLS alight with three goals and four assists. Really hitting form now it’ll be interesting to see if he can keep it up this week.
Real Salt Lake vs D.C. United
Staying in the West and Real Salt Lake will feel that they have a great chance to shoot up into the play-off places.
Like many teams, RSL have struggled to find consistency this season but despite being 9th, a win could take them up to 3rd.
As for D.C. United, they’ve been very disappointing this season and are bottom of the Eastern Conference.
However, with RSL not being one of the strongest forces in the league, they may be able to leave with a point.
Sunday 13th May
Portland Timbers vs Seattle Sounders
Usually this will be a heavyweight Western Conference clash, but this season has been surprising for both sides.
Both sides had terrible starts to 2018 but have begun to gain some momentum.
Portland have won their last three games and talents like Sebastian Blanco and Diego Valeri have started to shine.
Seattle on the other hand have been more stop-start in regards to their form. They’ve lost, drawn and won their last three games and will be looking to take another three points this weekend.
This may seem a bit more possible after their midweek victory over reigning champions Toronto. A win here could also bring the teams level on 11 points, so Seattle will be looking to close the gap before it appears in what could be a very important encounter.
Orlando City vs Atlanta United
Next up, two of the form sides in MLS do battle and this looks to be a very intriguing matchup.
Orlando City find themselves on a six-game winning streak which has no doubt been helped with the return of Dom Dwyer (who has six goals this season). The winning streak is the longest in the franchise’s history and they’ll do well to keep it that way this weekend.
Atlanta, however, will be somewhat weaker in their trip to Orlando. In their loss to SKC, Brad Guzan was dismissed which means backup goalkeeper Paul Christiensen is most likely to step in.
Whether or not the side will be strong enough to block out the doubt without Guzan behind, we’ll have to wait and see.
But with such attacking talents like Miguel Almiron, who has the most dribbles in the league this year (45), and Josef Martinez, they’ll be looking to avenge last week’s defeat and stay top of the Eastern Conference.
LAFC vs New York City FC
Staying at the top of the conferences, this is a meeting between the two 2nd placed teams in the East and the West.
LAFC have stolen the spotlight in their first MLS season and are acclimatising to their new home very well.
In their two games at the Banc of California Stadium they’ve come out on top twice out of three times. They’ll be looking to make their new home a fortress for the rest of this year.
However, following the 4-0 thrashing at the hands of the Red Bulls, Patrick Vieira’s side will need to bounce back ASAP to keep up with Atlanta.
But with LAFC proving to be so potent this season with the likes of Carlos Vela (5 goals), Diego Rossi (4 goals) and co. that could be a tough ask.
Especially when NYCFC have failed to win their last two away games (The Red Bulls game and 3-0 vs Portland). Whether they can shake that off mentally we’ll see this weekend.