MLS Weekend Preview

Jun 22, 2016; Sandy, UT, USA; New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles (31) cannot make the save on a goal by Real Salt Lake midfielder Jordan Allen (70) in the second half at Rio Tinto Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 22, 2016; Sandy, UT, USA; New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles (31) cannot make the save on a goal by Real Salt Lake midfielder Jordan Allen (70) in the second half at Rio Tinto Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports /

The MLS returns to full swing this weekend with a packed day of fixtures on Saturday.  16 of the league’s 20 squads will take the field on Saturday, with two more facing off on Sunday.  With the Copa America coming to a close this weekend, this is the last weekend that many us MLS fans have to worry about their teams being at less than full strength.  Here’s what’s going on this weekend around the league.

Seattle Sounders vs New York City FC, 5 PM ET, ESPN

Sitting second-to-last in the Western Conference and coming off their second loss in three games, the Seattle Sounders host NYCFC in the two clubs’ only meeting of the season.  NYCFC just snapped their winless streak and will be looking to pass their crosstown rivals in the tables this weekend.

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

The Sounders have been shut out three times in their last five matches, losing four of those five.  They are coming off a 2-0 loss at the New York Red Bulls.  However, the Sounders won the only ever meetings between the clubs, a 3-1 decision in NYCFC’s inaugural season last year.  Seattle will still be short Clint Dempsey, who is finishing Copa America with USA.

NYCFC is expected to have a full squad for their trip to the Northwest.  They just took down Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia 3-2 last weekend, and sit just one point behind rivals New York Red Bulls, who are in second.  NYCFC boasts the top scorer in MLS in Spaniard David Villa, who has 11 goals on the campaign, while fellow DP Andrea Pirlo scored his first MLS goal in the win over the Union.

DC United vs New England Revolution, 7 PM ET, DC NewsChannel 8, CSN New England

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DC United and New England will get their third look at each other this season, with both teams heading in opposite directions.  DC has gone two consecutive matches without recording a win, while the Revs have back to back wins to their name.  The two sides are separated by just two points in the league table.

DC United are coming off a scoreless draw with Houston, and have now been shut out in four of their last six matches, leading to United being the lowest scoring team in the East.  However, they have also posted three shutouts in that span, with defense keeping them in it.  United have taken the last three decisions between the clubs in league play, and also defeated the Revs in the first round of last year’s playoffs.

The Revolution have won two straight matches for the first time this year, and come into DC off a 2-1 win at the Vancouver Whitecaps.  Including last season’s playoff defeat, the Revs have lost four straight road games to DC and haven’t won in five meetings with United.  New England is two points above DC in the race for the final playoff spot in the East.

Philadelphia Union vs Vancouver Whitecaps, 7 PM ET, TCN Philadelphia, TSN

The first-place Union are riding a 10 game home unbeaten streak, and will put it on the line against Vancouver on Saturday.  They are also riding Roland Alberg, who has four goals in his last two matches.  The Whitecaps lost 2-1 at home to New England last weekend, and have not won in three matches.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

The Union are in a tie for the league’s highest scoring team with 27 goals, with four of those coming in their mid-week victory over last-place Chicago.  The Union sit four points ahead of their nearest competitor, the NY Red Bulls, in the Eastern Conference.  Philadelphia has also conceded only 16 goals through 14 matches.  However, they have let in three goals in each of their last two matches.

The Whitecaps took last year’s meeting with the Union 3-0, but that was against a much different Union side than they will see tonight.  The Caps are expected to finally get their captain back in Pedro Morales, who just finished serving a suspension.  Morales leads the squad with six goals and three assists.

Montreal Impact vs Sporting KC, 7:30 PM ET, TVA, KMCI KC

Two sides from different conferences meet for the only time of the season, with both in the thick of playoff races.  The Impact are fourth in the East while Sporting reside in fifth in the West.  Montreal have not lost in three matches, while Sporting KC just ended a three-match winless streak.

Montreal comes off a scoreless draw with Columbus last weekend.  They let up only one shot to the Crew, and have recorded two straight shutouts.  The Impact are six points behind first-place Philadelphia, and have two games in hand over the Union.  Ignacio Piatti, third in MLS in scoring, is expected to rejoin the team after undergoing hand surgery in early June.

Sporting have won only three of their last 14 matches, but are still in the thick of the playoff race due to their strong start.  They are coming off one of those wins, a 2-0 decision over FC Dallas last weekend.  KC also won last season’s meeting between these two sides, a 2-1 decision last July.

Columbus Crew vs New York Red Bulls, 7:30 PM ET, TWCN Columbus, MSG

Two teams on opposite sides of the table meet for the first time this season on Saturday.  The Crew sit in ninth place in the East, while the Red Bulls occupy second place.  This is a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Championship, which Columbus won to advance to the MLS Cup.

The Crew are coming off a scoreless draw with Montreal last weekend.  Starting Saturday, the Crew play nine of their next 10 matches against Eastern Conference opposition, so their chance to move up the table is now.  Columbus is currently just four points better than league-worst Chicago.

After a disappointing start to the season, the Red Bulls are unbeaten in seven of their last nine, outscoring its opponents 22-6 during that time.  They just had their four-match winning streak snapped just three nights ago with a loss to Real Salt Lake.  New York is four points behind conference-leading Philadelphia.

Orlando City SC vs Toronto FC, 7:30 PM ET, WRDQ Orlando, SN 360

With both teams in the heart of the race for the final playoff spots in the East, this match could prove to be a crucial one.  It is the first meeting between these clubs this season.  Orlando City is still looking for its first ever point against Toronto, having lost all three meetings in its first season by a combined 11-1 margin.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Orlando City is coming off three draws in a row, including an emotional 2-2 tie with San Jose last weekend in a match dedicated to the victims of the Orlando shooting.  OCSC’s home unbeaten streak rests at 14 matches, and is the longest such streak in MLS right now.

Toronto FC got a 1-0 victory over the LA Galaxy at home last weekend, ending their four-game winless streak.  With the team playing in the finals of the Canadian Championship, TFC are in the midst of a run of five games in 15 days.

FC Dallas vs Real Salt Lake, 8 PM ET, TXA-21, KMYU Salt Lake

Two Western Conference heavyweights meet for the first time this season in Frisco tonight.  Dallas resides in second place in the West, and their five-match unbeaten streak was ended last weekend with a 2-0 loss to Kansas City.  RSL are just one spot below them in third, and come off a comeback victory over NY Red Bulls on Wednesday.

FC Dallas sits four points behind West-leading Colorado coming into tonight.  Dallas won both meetings between these two teams last year, shutting out RSL both times.  However, with last weekend’s loss to KC, FC Dallas have now gone three matches without a win.

This is one of only two road matches for RSL until late July.  Salt Lake are looking for just their second ever win in Frisco, as they are 1-13-2 all-time in North Texas.  However, RSL have posted 15 goals in their last six matches and their goalkeeper, Nick Rimando, is just one win behind Kevin Hartman for the all-time MLS lead.

San Jose Earthquakes vs LA Galaxy, 10 PM ET, Univision

It’s the third installment of the Cali Clasico, and the first time the series shifts to northern California.  It’s also the first time since 1999 that an MLS match will air on Univision’s flagship station.  There’s one point separating these two teams, who are both in the middle of the playoff race.  In other words, this is a big one.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /

The Quakes are coming off a 2-2 draw on the road against Orlando, and are riding a 13-game undefeated streak at home.  Over 50,000 tickets have been sold for this rivalry match, and the Quakes have failed to disappoint their home fans in the series.  The Quakes have lost at home to the Galaxy just once in the last 12 meetings.

LA was held to a scoreless draw with Colorado on Wednesday night, as the Galaxy still search for their offense while Gyasi Zardes is busy with the USMNT.  It was Zardes’ two goals that led LA to a 3-1 win over San Jose back in March in Carson.  LA will also be missing Robbie Rogers due to injury.

We will have a separate preview up for Sunday’s match on ESPN2 between Portland and Houston.