MLS Week 15: What to Watch For

By RYAN BRISTER

MLS_logo.svgAfter a break (for most teams) for international matches and a midweek schedule filled with Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup games, all 22 Major League Soccer teams return to regular duty this weekend. Nothing on the schedule jumps out as a must-see, but there are some important matches. Here are five to keep an eye on.

Rested Sounders Travel to NYC

New York City (7-5-3, 24 points) hosts defending champion Seattle (5-6-4, 19) in one of the week’s most interesting games. These two teams took different approaches to their midweek matches in the Open Cup. Patrick Vieira put out a strong lineup in City’s loss to the Red Bulls, while the Sounders rested every starter, given their travel plans this week. Seattle will again have the services of Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris as they return from national team duty. But scoring goals (18 in 15 games) has been a struggle this year, even with those two in the lineup.

New England Tries to Slow Down Chicago

Host New England (5-5-5, 20) and Chicago (8-3-4, 28) are two of the hotter teams in the league. The Fire have won five of their last six, and are unbeaten in seven; the Revolution have lost only two of its last nine games. The MLS leading scorer Nemanja Nikolic has powered Chicago’s success with 12 goals.

More Problems for Kreis and Orlando

Orlando City (7-5-3, 24) will have to do without Cyle Larin for the foreseeable future. The Canadian forward was arrested on a DUI charge on Thursday, and now has to go through the league’s substance abuse and behavioral health program before being allowed to return to the field. Larin has half of Orlando’s 16 goals. The Lions, who have just one win in their last eight games, face Montreal (4-4-5, 17) on Saturday. Players like Giles Barnes and Kaká will have step in for Larin.

Atlanta Attack, Columbus Defense

Atlanta (5-6-3, 18) is the highest-scoring team (28 goals) in the league, while Columbus (7-8-1, 22) has allowed the most goals (26) in the Eastern Conference. United expects another sellout crowd at Bobby Dodd Stadium that is likely to be hungry for even more goals. Columbus played most of its starters in an Open Cup loss at FC Cincinnati. 

Vancouver and Dallas Battle Out West

Recent form has Vancouver (6-6-1, 19) and Dallas (6-3-5, 23) heading in opposite directions. Dallas has one victory in its last six matches, while the host Whitecaps have recovered from a slow start to win four of their last six games.


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