MLS Week 21 Preview: Sunday showcase

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

Major League Soccer picks up after its All-Star Game with a full 10-game slate. With the All-Star festivities having taken place on Thursday night, the league has shifted nearly its entire schedule for the weekend to Sunday. There is, however, one game played on Saturday.

New York City FC vs. Colorado Rapids, Saturday at 3 p.m.

Yankee Stadium logistics force NYCFC to play less than 48 hours after the All-Star game, which proved awkward for David Villa and Andrea Pirlo. It’s an inter-conference battle between two of the league’s best teams so far, and a real test for the hosts. Colorado is unbeaten in fifteen, and head to the Bronx with the hosts reeling from another Derby loss. This should be fun!

Sporting Kansas City vs. Portland Timbers, Sunday at 2 p.m. on Fox

It’s another early Sunday game on Big Fox as SKC hosts Portland. Entering the weekend, the teams were separated by just two points, but three spots and the red line out West. Last year, of course, they were separated only by the width of both posts at Providence Park. This is their first meeting since that fateful encounter in the playoffs last year.

Seattle Sounders vs. LA Galaxy, Sunday at 4 p.m. on ESPN

The post-Sigi Schmid era in Seattle begins against LA. These are teams heading in very different directions. The Galaxy have won six in a row across all competitions, including twice over the Sounders this month. Seattle’s hopes for an eighth straight playoff appearance will need points ASAP; that means finding a way to slow the Galaxy down here.

FC Dallas vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, Sunday at 6 p.m.

Immediately following the national broadcasts in the U.S., Dallas will host Vancouver. These were the two top teams in the West last year; this is their first meeting of 2016. Dallas will be without Fabian Castillo, recently sold to Trabzonspor, and it will be interesting to see if and how they can replace him. Broadcast on TSN in Canada means an early-evening kickoff in Frisco, where temps are expected to be in the upper 90s on Sunday. Expect water breaks.

DC United vs. Montreal Impact, Sunday at 6:30 p.m.

DC hosts Montreal in another early-evening clash. United enters the weekend four points out of the final playoff spot in the East; a game at home, even against a side like the Impact, is a good barometer of whether they will be making a push this fall.

Philadelphia Union vs. Real Salt Lake, Sunday at 7 p.m.

The other interconference game this weekend pits Philadelphia against Salt Lake. The Union will be looking to recover from a heavy loss last weekend in Montreal, but Talen Energy Stadium has been something of a fortress this year. RSL enters the week having not won in their last seven games across all competitions. Their place in the Western Conference playoff picture is growing precarious.

Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls, Sunday at 7 p.m.

Chicago hosts New York with 14 points separating the sides in the standings. The Red Bulls picked up a 1-0 win over the Fire in May, but their road form has left a lot to be desired. When the Red Bulls were last in Chicago, they won the Supporters Shield on the final day of the regular season last October.

Orlando City SC vs. New England Revolution, Sunday at 7:30 p.m.

Jason Kreis’ first game in charge over Orlando City will be at home against New England. Before he arrived, Orlando played two heated, dramatic games against the Revolution. Both ended in 2-2 draws back in April. Draws have been all too common for Orlando; had they turned just two of their 11 into wins, they would be ahead of New England, not behind.

Toronto FC vs. Columbus Crew SC, Sunday at 7:30 p.m.

Toronto will host a Columbus side in the midst of a dreadful slump. Columbus is coming off a three game homestand in which they blew three leads and settled for three draws. That includes a 1-1 draw with TFC. Away from home, the Crew have lost their last four games, going back to a scoreless draw in Toronto in May. Toronto would be happy to continue Columbus’ struggles.

Houston Dynamo vs. San Jose Earthquakes, Sunday at 9 p.m.

Having hosted the All-Star Game, San Jose hits the road Sunday with a game in Houston. Dom Kinnear is familiar with Houston, of course, and his side won 3-1 over the Dynamo this season. They have yet to win on the road, however, and will need to win games like these in order to make the playoffs.