MLS Midweek Preview: What to Watch For

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By RYAN BRISTER

MLS logoMajor League Soccer will be taking a brief hiatus early in the group stage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, but the league is squeezing in one final set of games before the break. Every team will be in action either Tuesday or Wednesday night

Can the Timbers Slow the Fire?

Two of the league’s highest-scoring teams (Fire 37 goals; Timbers 32) will meet Wednesday night in Portland (7-7-5, 26 points). First-place Chicago  (11-3-4, 37) has won eight of its last nine games and is unbeaten in 10 to lead the Eastern Conference. With 16 goals in 18 games, Nemanja Nikolic is on pace to shatter the MLS record for goals in a single season, currently 27. On the other side, the Timbers have struggled despite their attack, giving up eight goals in their last four games and going winless in that span.

Travel Troubles

Over this past weekend, a flight cancellation meant D.C. United didn’t arrive in Montreal until Saturday, the day of their game against the Impact. They then lost, 2-0. Now they face a quick turnaround and travel to Dallas (7-3-7, 28) for a game Tuesday night. United (5-10-3, 18) is not the only team with a difficult road task ahead; San Jose (7-6-5, 26) went across the country for a Tuesday match in Atlanta (8-7-3, 27), having played at home late Saturday night.

A Battle on the Western Fringe

They met in last year’s Western Conference finals, but entering this week, Seattle (5-7-6, 21) and Colorado (6-10-1, 19) are in eighth and ninth place. They are on the outside looking in at the playoffs, but either could be above the red line heading into the break with a win and helpful results elsewhere. The Rapids are happy to be hosting; they are an astounding 0-7-0 outside of Colorado, but competent at home (6-3-1).

Orlando Tries to Set Things Straight

Orlando City (8-6-5, 29) went to Toronto (10-3-5, 35) in early May, and the defeat it suffered there sent the team into a tailspin. After that loss, the Lions went on to win one of their next 10 games, after what had been a hot start. But having won on the road over the weekend, Coach Jason Kreis will be hoping that his side is turning the corner. Toronto, however, is a much tougher test than Salt Lake.

Dèjá Vu for the Red Bulls

Between June 14 and July 13, the Red Bulls (7-8-2, 23) will have played six games against only three different opponents. On Wednesday night, they will travel to face the New England Revolution (5-8-5, 20) in a regular-season match, and then they’ll do it again a week later in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals. These sides met just over a month ago, in a game the Red Bulls won, 2-1, after falling behind early.


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