MLS Wednesday Night Preview

Jun 18, 2016; Sandy, UT, USA; Real Salt Lake fans react to a goal during the second half against the Portland Timbers at Rio Tinto Stadium. The match ended in a 2-2 draw. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 18, 2016; Sandy, UT, USA; Real Salt Lake fans react to a goal during the second half against the Portland Timbers at Rio Tinto Stadium. The match ended in a 2-2 draw. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports /

For American soccer fans, last night was, well, a rough one.  The US Men’s National Team was blasted 4-0 by Lionel Messi and Argentina to end their Copa America run.  That would be the bad news.  Here lies the good:  The most unpredictable soccer league in the world is right here in your backyard, and it returns to action tonight.  Six MLS squads take the pitch in mid-week showdowns that could have a meaningful impact on the league tables.  Here’s the lowdown on tonight’s matches.  All three can be streamed on MLS LIVE.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

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Philadelphia Union vs Chicago Fire, 7 PM ET, TCN Philadelphia, CSN Chicago+

The Chicago Fire are currently riding an MLS record, and it’s not one the club will be hanging a banner for.  The Fire have gone 31 consecutive MLS road games without recording a victory, a streak dating back to July 2014, as they head into Philadelphia tonight to take on the Union.  The Union, on the other hand, are riding high this season, sitting atop the Eastern Conference with 23 points, just one point above the New York Red Bulls, who also take the field tonight.

The Fire are coming off a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat in Colorado on Saturday, allowing the game-winning goal in the 89th minute to former Chicago player Marco Pappa.  It marked yet another bump in the road in a season full of them for Chicago, as the team currently resides in last place in the East with just 11 points.  With another MLS match this weekend and the U.S. Open Cup resuming play next week, the Men in Red are staring down three matches in seven days starting tonight, so coach Veljko Paunovic will have some interesting decisions to make when crafting tonight’s lineup.

The Union are coming off a defeat of their own, a 3-2 decision to New York City FC on Saturday.  The three goals conceded were a season-high for Jim Curtin’s men, in a game where they struggled to keep possession and create chances for most of the 90 minutes.  However, the loss was the Union’s first in nine matches, and Philadelphia has yet to lose at home over the course of the season.

Despite the recent form of the two teams, the Fire have actually had the upper hand over the Union of late.  One of the Fire’s only two wins this season came at home over the Union 1-0  on April 2 behind a goal from Kennedy Igboananike, and the Fire have not lost to the Union since May 2013.  However, the first-place Union will be looking to bounce back in a big way, and facing a punchless Fire team that has scored more than one goal just once this year, they should have no real problems doing so.

Prediction:  2-0 Union

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MLS rumors: De Gea to Miami, Modric to Saudi Arabia, Gallardo joins Al-Ittihad /


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  • Real Salt Lake vs New York Red Bulls, 10 PM ET, KMYU Utah, MSG

    Both RSL and the Red Bulls sit in the top three of their respective conferences, and tonight, they meet for the only time this season.  Salt Lake are on a five-match unbeaten run at home, and will play seven of their next nine games there as they have just completed a five-match road trip.  The Red Bulls are on a four-match winning streak and are 5-1-1 in their last seven.

    RSL comes off a 2-2 draw last week against defending champion Portland, which allowed Real to remain undefeated at home this season.  Salt Lake has also never lost at home to the Red Bulls in league play.  In nine all-time regular season meetings at Rio Tinto Stadium, RSL has won four and the teams have drawn five.

    The Red Bulls bring a staunch defense to Utah, as they have not conceded a single goal on their four-match winning streak.  Their current run of 407 minutes without allowing a goal is the third-longest such streak in club history.  However, the Red Bulls own a terrible road form this season, having lost five of their seven matches played away from Red Bull Arena.

    As good as the Red Bulls have been recently, their form on the road is a cause for concern, and Rio Tinto has always proven to be a tough place to play.  Points-wise, RSL will also be the toughest opponent the Red Bulls have seen since their shutout streak began.  Expect RSL’s home unbeaten streak to continue and New York’s shutout streak to come to an end.

    Zach Lahey has more on this matchup.

    Prediction:  2-2 Draw

    LA Galaxy vs Colorado Rapids, 10:30 PM ET, TWCSN, Altitude

    Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
    Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports /

    This is a big one out in the Western Conference, with the Galaxy sitting in a logjam for fourth place and the Rapids leading the entire league in points with 31.  The Galaxy boast the league’s highest scoring offense with 27 goals, while the Rapids have the league’s stingiest defense, having allowed just 11 goals this season.

    The Galaxy are currently on a run of five consecutive matches without a win, and have been shut out in two straight, most recently a 1-0 loss at Toronto FC, as the losses of Gyasi Zardes and Robbie Keane to international duty have taken their toll.  However, the Galaxy are still unbeaten at home, and a visit from the league leaders is likely to get the team fired up to try and break that drought.

    The Rapids have gone 10 matches now without a loss, and are coming off a victory over the cellar-dwelling Chicago Fire.  However, Colorado is also missing some big-name players, such as Shkelzen Gashi and Jermaine Jones, and the road is where the Rapids picked up both of their losses to date.

    The Rapids have been one of the surprise stories of the campaign, while the Galaxy have maybe been a bit disappointing as of late.  With both teams missing significant role players, this match could become a bit low-scoring.  However, it seems as if both sides have what it takes to be able to keep their respective streaks going.

    Prediction:  1-1 Draw