MLS Week 25 Preview: What to Watch For

Photograph by Matt Kremkau

It is again rivalry week in Major League Soccer. With the finish line of the regular season in sight, the stakes are heightened beyond bragging rights. Here’s what to watch for from a packed slate of games.

Seattle Battles Rivals

Seattle (11-7-7, 40 points) sits atop the Western Conference, but the Sounders face a big challenge this week when they play both of their Cascadia rivals. First up is a trip north to Vancouver (10-9-4, 34), where the Whitecaps are above the red playoff line. Portland (10-9-7, 37) will visit the Sounders on Sunday. The Timbers have been inconsistent, and haven’t won a regular-season match in Seattle since the clubs joined MLS. If that changes, it’ll be a big statement.

Double Duty for Dynamo

Rivalry week starts in earnest on Wednesday night with the Texas Derby. The first two meetings between Houston (10-8-7, 37) and Dallas (9-6-8, 35) this year have ended in draws. Dallas enters the week winless in its last four games, having scored once in that span, but Houston’s road form has bedeviled it this year. The Dynamo then move on to host Kansas City (10-5-10, 40). It’s a big week for Houston to prove its worth in the Western Conference.

Can Montreal Derail Toronto?

The league’s best team will face one of its hottest when Toronto and Montreal resume their rivalry on Sunday. These sides have played twice this year, in the Canadian Championship, but this is just the first of three regular season meetings down the stretch run. The Impact have won their last four games, and would love to be a thorn in TFC’s side while the Reds push for the Supporters’ Shield. Ignacio Piatti, with six goals in his last four games, will be a big part of that effort.

NYCFC Goes for a Sweep

In the first two years of the Hudson River Derby, the Red Bulls (12-10-2, 38) have run rampant over their new neighbors. This year has been different, with NYCFC (14-7-4, 46) winning the first two meetings. They will go for the trifecta on Friday night at Red Bull Arena. David Villa put up a hat trick in the last meeting, what will he do for an encore?

Atlanta Back on the Field

Due to the construction delay at their new stadium, Atlanta United has had the past two weeks off, and now have multiple games in hand on every other team in the East. They will return to the field with two road games this week, and if Atlanta is the contender it thinks it is, both should be winnable. They will face league-worst DC United on Wednesday, followed by a trip to Philadelphia on the weekend. But will the rust affect an Atlanta side that had been unbeaten in their last six games?