MLS Week 18 Preview: Kamara vs. Columbus, more

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by RYAN BRISTER

Major League Soccer took Tuesday off, but there’s a game Wednesday night to make for a quick turnaround after a long holiday weekend. Five games will be on national TV, but the weekend’s most intriguing match will not be: Kei Kamara is taking on his former teammates Saturday night.

New England Revolution vs. New York City FC, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

First, though, Kamara’s new teammates will have to deal with NYCFC. The Pigeons go to Foxboro with a three-game win streak under their belts, and a whole bunch of momentum stemming from their win over the Red Bulls on Sunday. The Revs’ season has mostly been a struggle so far, but a win would lift them into fifth place in the East.

Orlando City SC vs. Houston Dynamo, Friday at 8 p.m. on Unimas

A Unimas doubleheader kicks off in Florida, where Orlando City is hosting Houston. Orlando picked up their first win in MLS last season over the Dynamo, but are smarting after receiving a beatdown from their Texas rivals on Monday night. The Lions have had trouble finishing off victories at home, but Houston’s away record is anemic, with just two points from nine matches.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. FC Dallas, Friday at 10:30 p.m. on Unimas

No team in MLS has as many points as FC Dallas through 17 weeks. They take one of the league’s most potent attacks to San Jose, where the Earthquakes have yet to lose this season. It’s a second straight Friday night game for the Quakes. This is the third meeting of the year between Dallas and San Jose; the first two have ended in draws.

Seattle Sounders vs. LA Galaxy, Saturday at 3 p.m. on ESPN

Seattle and LA have a high noon kickoff on Saturday. This has been one of the premier matchups in recent years, but the 2016 Sounders are a far cry from teams of the past. They enter the week having scored the fewest goals in MLS, even with the efforts of Jordan Morris. LA broke a winless streak over the weekend, and will be looking to take another Cascadia scalp.

Philadelphia Union vs. DC United, Saturday at 7 p.m.

Have they decided on a name for this rivalry? Philly and DC, whatever you want to call them, will meet again Saturday night. The Union grabbed a late winner over United in this year’s first meeting. Since the Copa America break, Philadelphia has been alternating wins and losses. Two of those wins came in the U.S. Open Cup; their regular season form has slumped.

Toronto FC vs. Chicago Fire, Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Toronto will see their home game Saturday night against Chicago as an opportunity to get some points even without several key players. After their long season-starting road trip, the Reds have mostly had home games, and they haven’t done as well as they would have liked at the new and improved BMO Field. Their guests, meanwhile, are winless on the road.

New England Revolution vs. Columbus Crew SC, Saturday 7:30 p.m.

Kei Kamara has found his scoring touch of late for New England; he will face his former team for the first time on Saturday night. The Crew, you might recall, traded last year’s joint-leading goalscorer after locker room tensions boiled over on the field in early May. His replacement, the unrelated Ola Kamara, has scored seven goals in the last five games, but it hasn’t translated into results for Columbus.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Colorado Rapids, Saturday at 10 p.m.

The league’s stingiest defense will take on one of the leakiest as Colorado hosts Vancouver. The Rapids were staunch in defense before the arrival of Tim Howard, but he debuted with a clean sheet on Monday night. Vancouver had a disappointing performance over the weekend, and there are rumors swirling about Kekuta Manneh, who is perhaps their most electrifying player going forward.

Real Salt Lake vs. Montreal Impact, Saturday at 10 p.m.

Salt Lake hosts Montreal in Saturday night’s other late game. Rio Tinto Stadium has been a fortress for RSL this year; they’re unbeaten in seven home matches. Didier Drogba might not make the trip for the Impact; he wasn’t in the 18 for last weekend’s win over New England due to injury.

New York Red Bulls vs. Portland Timbers, Sunday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2

After four fruitless road games across two competitions, the Red Bulls are returning home to take on the defending champs. Portland enters the weekend just below the red line in the West, and they could use their first road win of the season. The Red Bulls have been very streaky this season, and right now they are experiencing a cold stretch.

Sporting Kansas City vs. New York City FC, Sunday at 8 p.m. on FS1

It’s another Sunday night game in Kansas City. The visitors this time are NYCFC who enter the week riding high atop the Eastern Conference. SKC seems to have recovered from the lengthy skid they took into the Copa America break, and City’s form has also been greatly improved since the weeks off.