With only three days to celebrate their first Open Cup win of the season, or in some cases to recuperate from an early exit, MLS teams return to league play this weekend for week 15.
Eastern Conference second placed team New York City FC will face first placed Atlanta United after a rough 4-0 loss to their cross-town rivals, New York Red Bulls. West league leaders Sporting KC will travel to one of the most electrifying stadiums in MLS, Providence Park, to battle fifth placed Portland Timbers who are, no surprise, still unbeaten at home this season.
LAFC and San Jose Earthquakes will play their first ever “California derby” on Saturday, which is quite fitting here as this is the first MLS Preview By the Numbers and it promises some hard hits—about 10 of them...
10. After a dramatic 10-9 penalty kick loss to Chicago in the Open Cup, the Columbus Crew – third in the Eastern Conference – host the fourth placed New York Red Bulls in a table topping matchup.
The Red Bulls are the best scoring team in the East, thanks to English forward Bradley Wright-Phillips who will be looking for his 10th goal of the season and playmaker Alejandro ‘Kaku’ Gamarra, who will be on the hunt for his 10th assist of the season.
As for the Crew, their top scorer is Gyasi Zardes who’s one goal short of 10. Columbus’ number 10, Federico Higuaín, is also a player to keep an eye on. The Argentine playmaker netted a game-tying PK in Columbus’ last league game and leads the team in assists.
Columbus Crew v. New York Red Bulls (Columbus Crew Stadium, 6/9, 5PM ET, ESPN)
Player to Watch: Federico Higuain
9. LA Galaxy are playing host to Real Salt Lake on Saturday at the StubHub Center. LA is already enjoying the services of their new number 9 as Zlatan Ibrahimovic leads the club in scoring. Both teams have racked a rather low tally of 19 goals, however Salt Lake is the third best team in the West. The Galaxy sit in the eighth spot.
Last time the two sides met, although RSL was playing with 9 field players, the match ended in a 1-1 draw. RSL’s Kyle Beckerman netted a 90+ minute goal to equalize in that one.
LA Galaxy v. Real Salt Lake (Stubhub Center, 6/9, 10:30PM ET, ESPN+)
Player to Watch: Zlatan
8. FC Dallas is unbeaten in 8 home-games. Montreal Impact have only won two of their last 8 outings. The two clubs will play each other on Saturday night at Dallas’ home, Toyota Stadium. A win will boost FCD to an 8-match unbeaten run. Mauro Diaz has played a huge factor in Dallas’ recent success, tallying a team best of 8 assists.
On the other end of the pitch, Impact midfielder Ignacio Piatti is definitely a player the Dallas defenders will need to put a body on as he leads the Canadian club in goals and assists.
FC Dallas v. Montreal Impact (Toyota Stadium, 6/9, 8PM ET, ESPN+)
Player to Watch: Igancio Piatti
7. LAFC will be looking for their 7th league win in their first “California derby” against San Jose. The Earthquakes have racked the most losses in the West while LA is still on track to make the playoffs in their MLS season debut.
Carlos Vela and Danny Hoesen lead LAFC and San Jose in scoring respectively with 7 goals each.
San Jose Earthquakes v. LAFC (Avaya Stadium, 6/9, 10:30PM ET, ESPN+)
Player to Watch: Carlos Vela
6. Toronto is shockingly second from the bottom in the East after winning the league last year. Their next match is against Philadelphia, a team they haven’t lost to in 6 outings. Unfortunately TFC will be going into the match with 6 injuries including U.S. striker Jozy Altidore who’s recovering from a foot surgery.
The Union won their last match, flying past Richmond Kickers in the Open Cup. Toronto on the other hand drew with Columbus in the league after giving up a 90th minute penalty kick, which Higuain converted. Philly’s most valuable player so far this season has been newcomer Boreck Dockal. Dockal leads the club in assists (6) and goals (tied with Ilsinho at 3).
Philadelphia Union v. Toronto FC (Talen Energy Stadium, 6/8 (tonight), 8PM ET, ESPN+)
Player to Watch: Boreck Dockal
5. West side table toppers Sporting KC are on a 5 match unbeaten run in the league. Their next opponent is Western Conference 5th placed team, Portland Timbers. The Timbers started the season without winning their first 5 matches but haven’t lost since then, in two months. Whose streak will end on Saturday?
Portland Timbers v. Sporting KC (Providence Park, 6/9, 10:30PM ET, ESPN+)
Player to Watch: Diego Valeri
4. Orlando City is on a 4-game losing skid in league play. The club’s next match is against Vancouver Whitecaps, a team that will go into the game without a loss in a little over a month. To make matters worse for Orlando, they will be without their top scorer number 14 Dom Dwyer. This will be the two clubs’ 4th encounter. The Whitecaps haven’t lost to Jason Kreis’ men yet.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC v. Orlando City (BC Place, 6/9, 7:00PM ET, ESPN+)
Player to Watch: Kei Kamara
3. After a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat to USL side Louisville City in the Open Cup, New England is traveling to Toyota Park to play Chicago Fire. Despite the loss to Lou City, the Revs are unbeaten in 3 matches in league action.
Chicago edged the Crew in PKs in the Open Cup on Wednesday as mentioned above. The Fire’s most prolific players has been 33-year-old Bastian Schweinsteiger and number 23 Nemanja Nikolic. Schweinsteiger is the club’s assist leader (4) while Nikolic is the top scorer (6).
Chicago Fire v. New England Revolution (Toyota Park, 6/9, 8:30PM ET, ESPN+)
Player to Watch: Bastian Schweinsteiger
2. The 2 best teams in the East will go at it on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Atlanta’s Josef Martinez is the reigning MLS Player of the Week. He has scored the most goals in the league thus far, finding the net 12 times. Last time Patrick Viera’s men took on Atlanta, the match ended 2-2.
NYCFC v. Atlanta United (Yankee Stadium, 6/9, 12:30PM ET, ESPN+)
Player to Watch: Josef Martinez
1. The 11th placed team in the East will square up against the 11th best team of the West as Seattle Sounders welcome D.C. United at CenturyLink Field on Saturday night. Seattle is going into the game with just 1 win this past month and they lost their last outing to USL side Sacramento Republic 2-1 in the Open Cup.
D.C were victorious in their Open Cup match, narrowly beating USL club North Carolina F.C. in penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw.
Seattle Sounders v. D.C. United (CenturyLink Field, 6/9, 10:00PM, ESPN+)
Player to Watch: Darren Mattocks
Author: Onz Chery