MLS Week 13 Preview: Last week before Copa break

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by RYAN BRISTER

This is the last full week on the Major League Soccer schedule before Copa America and a league-wide break. The theme of the week seems to be East vs. West, with six interconference matches over the weekend. So far, this season has tilted in the West’s favor.

Orlando City SC vs. Philadelphia Union, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

Orlando plays a midweek game for the first time this season when they hose Philadelphia. The Lions are coming off of a big win over the weekend against Montreal. Given the skid they were on, OCSC is hoping that was a turning point. The Union grabbed a late win when they hosted Orlando in April, and have had a knack for eking out results like that so far this year.

Sporting Kansas City vs. DC United, Friday at 7 p.m. on Unimas

It’s an early kickoff in the Central Time Zone when Kansas City hosts DC on Friday night. Times have been tough for SKC of late; they’ve won just one game in their last nine. DC’s form hasn’t been all that much better. Both teams could use the three points.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Houston Dynamo, Saturday at 6 p.m.

The harsh shadows of BC Place will be in full effect when Vancouver hosts an afternoon game against Houston on Saturday. The only goal of the game was a penalty when the Whitecaps beat the Dynamo 1-0 in March. The Whitecaps will be without Kendall Waston this time around.

New York Red Bulls vs. Toronto FC, Saturday at 7 p.m.

After four games at home, Toronto heads south of the border to take on the Red Bulls this weekend. New York, of course, is coming off of a mammoth victory against their rivals on Saturday. TFC visited Red Bull Arena on the opening day of the season, and withstood pressure for most of the match before scoring two late goals to win.

New England Revolution vs. Seattle Sounders, Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

The divide between conferences creates harsh math in the Western Conference; with the same number of points as the Revs, the Sounders are 7 points out of the last playoff spot. New England, meanwhile, could be in fourth with a win.

Columbus Crew SC vs. Real Salt Lake, Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Real Salt Lake visits Columbus on Saturday. No one would have predicted that RSL would be the team up in the standings when this match was scheduled, but fortunes have reversed since last year. The Crew still can’t seem to shake their funk; they haven’t won since April. In two games since the trade of Kei Kamara, they have managed two draws.

Montreal Impact vs. LA Galaxy, Saturday at 8 p.m.

LA will make one of MLS’s longest trips as they head to Montreal this week. The Impact have quietly been on a six-game winless streak since defeating Chicago in mid-April. Conversely, the Galaxy have not lost since March, though they’ve ended up with a lot of draws they would have liked as wins.

Chicago Fire vs. Portland Timbers, Saturday at 8:30 p.m.

The Fire have been frankly anemic so far this season, but if they were to win at home on Saturday they’d be as close as one point out of the playoff spots. Portland has been concretely better, but they too can only climb to seventh with a win.

Colorado Rapids vs. Philadelphia Union, Saturday at 9 p.m.

The first place teams in both conferences face off Saturday night in Colorado. There’s another surprise of the schedule. Colorado and Philly have surprised everyone with their strong starts, particularly Colorado. The Rapids’ league-best record has been built on their home form. In six home games, they’ve taken six wins.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. FC Dallas, Saturday at 10:30 p.m.

In an all-Western showdown, San Jose hosts Dallas to wrap up Saturday night. Dallas seems to have worked out whatever kinks may have caused their brief slide; they enter this week having won three games in a row. San Jose has yet to lose at home this year, but Dallas is perhaps the best team to visit the Bay Area so far in 2016.

New York City FC vs. Orlando City SC, Sunday at 4:30 p.m. on ESPN

NYCFC hopes to bounce back from their blowout loss when they host Orlando on Sunday. This is the second time Orlando has been to Yankee Stadium this year. On their first trip, they came away with a 1-0 win against the run of play. Including last year, Cyle Larin has four goals in the Bronx.