MLS Week 16: What to Watch For

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By RYAN BRISTER

MLS_logo.svgIt is rivalry week in Major League Soccer, but first we have five midweek games to whet our appetites at the beginning of Week 16. Once the weekend rolls around some of the league’s most intense rivalries, including the Hudson River Derby, will be contested. Here’s what to look, besides the Red Bulls-NYCFC clash on Saturday afternoon (1:30 p.m. Eastern; Fox Network).

A Busy Week for Orlando

Before Seattle (5-7-4, 19 points) visits its Cascadia rival over the weekend, the Sounders host Orlando (7-5-4, 25) on Wednesday night. The Lions are trying to see their way out of a slump — one win in their last nine games. They will have two opportunities this week. After Seattle, the Lions will travel to Chicago to face the surging Fire (9-3-4, 31) on Saturday. It will be the second time this month the two have played; the first was a hard-fought scoreless draw after the Lions went down to nine-men. That’s the only game of their last seven the Fire haven’t won.

Schedule Glut and Canadian Championship

The first leg of the Canadian Championship finals (with a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League on the line) between Toronto and Montreal is Wednesday night. Both teams then return to MLS play on the weekend before playing the second leg next Tuesday. It is a scheduling glut that Michael Bradley has criticized. Toronto (9-2-5, 32) will host New England (5-6-5, 20) on Friday, while Montreal (4-4-6, 18) travels to Columbus (7-9-1, 22). The situation will test the priorities of the two coaches, Greg Vanney and the Impact’s Mauro Biello.

A Texas-style Showdown

The rivalry between Houston (7-6-3, 24) and Dallas (6-3-6, 24) that has been dominated by Dallas in recent years (5-1-2 since Houston rejoined the Western Conference in 2015). The Dynamo earned a scoreless draw in Dallas earlier this season, but games in Houston have packed more punch. The Dynamo have averaged three goals per game at home this year, which is a big reason why they are 7-0-1 at BBVA Compass Stadium. Cubo Torres has scored eight of his 10 goals at home.

Cascadia, Again

Portland (7-6-3, 24) and Seattle (5-7-4, 19) will resume their longstanding rivalry on Sunday afternoon. It is already the third game of the season between these teams, with a fourth coming in late August. The Sounders have won the first two, but both of those were at home, and only one featured MLS-level players. Elsewhere, the Timbers have been the better side this year. Fanendo Adi and Diego Valeri have scored nearly as many goals (16) as the entire Seattle team (19).

Can the Rapids Stay Hot?

In non-rivalry news, Colorado (5-8-1, 16) is looking to continue its recent success. The Rapids have struggled this year, scoring just a goal per game. And yet, in the tightly packed Western Conference, three wins in a row has Colorado back in playoff contention. Now the Rapids face an important, challenging week, with games against Los Angeles (5-5-4, 19) and Atlanta (6-6-3, 21). Alan Gordon, formerly of the Galaxy, played the hero for the Rapids in their most recent victory.