Depending on what team you play for it is week 17, 18, or 19 in MLS. So far the season is shaping up with some interesting narratives: An expansion team is scoring the most goals per game in the league, the Los Angeles Galaxy are competent away from home this year and terrible when playing in LA, a 35 year old who isn’t good enough to play on his national team is the best player in the league still, and somewhere Sigi Schmid is looking at the standings in the Western Conference, seeing Seattle sitting in 8th place at the midway point and is wondering “I didn’t have Lodeiro when they fired me, what’s Brian Schmetzer’s excuse for being in 8th place?”
This weekend has some interesting games on deck, and a few have even been concluded - let’s take a look at what happened already and will happen Saturday and Sunday.
New York City Football Club vs. Minnesota United Football Club
What happens when a winger that should be getting serious consideration to play for the England National Team and the best player in MLS play a team that has a debatable USMNT snub at forward and a backline missing the only thing keeping them from the bottom of the Western Conference table? You get David Villa scoring a goal, Jack Harrison netting a goal and an assist, Christian Ramirez putting one in the onion bag, and Brett Kallman watching from the sideline. NYCFC won 3-1.
Real Salt Lake vs. Orlando City Soccer Club
A team that can’t score played at a team that can’t defend, something had to give. All in all, RSL has allowed 38 goals this year and OCSC managed one against them on Friday night. City won 1-0. Here’s the highlight of the match so you don’t have to watch it:
Mike Petke had an early candidate for #MLS Face of the Week, summing up the mood for #RSL in a bad home loss tonight. #RSLvORL pic.twitter.com/F8GEZC52NJ— Jason Foster (@JogaBonitoUSA) July 1, 2017
Chicago Fire Soccer Club vs. Vancouver Whitecaps Football Club
The Fire don’t lose at home and Vancouver doesn’t win very often. Dax McCarty and David Accam are away on international duty, but five players for Vancouver are questionable or out, including their center back and captain Kendall Waston. Even with Accam gone, the Fire should do enough to melt the Whitecaps (sorry) and if Vancouver has as many starters out as are on the injury report it could be a long day for them. Prediction: 1-0 Chicago Fire.
Impact de Montréal vs. District of Columbia United
A Nacho Piatti-less Impact take on a Bill Hamid-less DC United, what will these two teams do without their best players? I expect that this game will be a big, perhaps fun even, sloppy mess. Prediction: 2-2 draw.
Football Club Dallas vs. Toronto Football Club
This should be the best game of the weekend. Each team has been excellent on both sides of the ball and both has a claim to being the best team in their conference at this point in the season. Both teams played midweek and will be missing key defenders with Walker Zimmerman out for Dallas and TFC missing Steven Beitashour who got kicked in the pancreas in the Voyageur’s Cup Final by the Impact’s Kyle Fischer. Prediction: 2-1 FC Dallas followed by a Kurt Larson diatribe about the blue tarp in Dallas being critical to TFC dropping points there.
Sporting Kansas City vs. Portland Timbers
SKC beat the LA Galaxy last weekend because Clement Diop forgot he could use his hands, otherwise they have been abysmal in front of goal and will be missing Dom Dwyer and Benny Feilhaber. Luckily, the Timbers are abysmal on defense and gave up a goal to Seattle in the closing minutes of the game even though they were down a player. SKC already looks like they play with 10 players so I’m predicting a 1-1 draw.
Columbus Crew Soccer Club vs. Atlanta United Football Club
Remember this piggy back ride?
GOAL: Heavy pressing allows Hector Villalba to score an early goal: Read More https://t.co/ApXTIxoIcb— World Soccer News (@W0RLDSOCCERNEWS) June 17, 2017
or that nutmeg?
GOL de Miguel Almirón para el Atlanta United, que le gana 2-1 a Columbus Crew.️ pic.twitter.com/3wicpbA6Es— Todo Cerro (@TodoCerro1912) June 18, 2017
or when the net stopped the ball off of Josef’s foot from punching a hole in the sky?
He’s baaaack.@JosefMartinez17 gets a third for @ATLUTD. #ATLvCLB https://t.co/7YayqHnzxx— Major League Soccer (@MLS) June 18, 2017
I remember. Atlanta will travel to Columbus and try to remind the Crew about it. Prediction: 3-2 Atlanta.
Colorado Rapids vs. Houston Dynamo
Houston has been just terrible on the road but Colorado are an awful team. After their loss to Dallas in the US Open Cup midweek Pablo Mastroeni, human Dick Dastardly and idea haver about What It Really Takes To Win, perpetrated this:
Colorado Coach Pablo Mastroeni looks like he'll decline media. Heard him screaming at his team through the lockerroom door. #FCDvCOL— Scott Sidway (@ScottyWK) June 28, 2017
I think Houston figures something out here and Colorado sticks to their less than one goal per game average they’ve set this season. Prediction: Houston 1-0.
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Los Angeles Galaxy
Soccer player by day, poster visionary by night.@tomthom11 inspires #CaliClasico poster design for #RivalryWeek: https://t.co/ii02rNTh86 pic.twitter.com/KNoL1LaWVJ— San Jose Earthquakes (@SJEarthquakes) July 1, 2017
This California Classico will feature the LA Galaxy, who are 5-1-2 away from home this year, and the Earthquakes who take the field after coach Dom Kinnear was fired. If the team is feeling the lingering effects of losing their manager, they aren’t showing it. The Quakes beat Seattle 2-1 in the Open Cup and should be atingle heading into the rivalry match against LA. Their opponents will be missing Gyasi Zardes and Giovani Dos Santos, perhaps I wouldn’t say they’ll be missing them, and will rely on Romain Alessandrini, Jack McBean, and Ema Boateng to see them through. Prediction: Cozmo starts in goal in place of Clement Diop and LA wins 3-1.
Philadelphia Union vs. New England Revolution
Forgive the Revolution for thinking that the MLS All Star Jerseys are an homage to their logo, they haven’t seen fit to hold another contest for first graders to design a new one. The winner of this match gets sole possession of 8th place in the East with the Revs having the chance to climb as high as 7th. The Revs have had some hard luck this year and are probably better than their record indicates. Prediction 2-1 New England.
Seattle Sounders - Bye week
If there is a team that needs a bye week, a center back, and to do some soul searching about firing Sigi Schmid, it is the Sounders. For a team with a lot of hype about players like Jordan Morris, Clint Dempsey, Christian Roldan, and Joevin Jones, they sure don’t score a lot of goals or defend very well.
New York Red Bulls - Bye week
Speaking of teams needing introspection, the New York Red Bulls have fallen way off of their form from last season. They’ve started out slow the past few seasons but usually put it together by June. On top of missing Dax McCarty and everything that he brings to the team, Sacha Kljestan doesn’t look like the same player he was last year when he earned 20 assists. Luckily we won’t have to watch them not connect on passes in attack and see Luis Robles screaming at his defenders for 90 minutes. Prediction: Red Bulls still lose 2-1.