MLS Week 29 Preview: What to Watch For

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MLS_logo.svgIt has already been a busy week for Major League Soccer’s teams. New England fired its coach, Toronto was stunned at home, and Kansas City won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Will the weekend be as eventful? Here’s what to look for.

Connecticut ‘Yankees’

The first game of the weekend is in East Hartford, Conn., where New York City (15-8-6, 51 points) is playing Houston (10-10-8, 38). A rescheduled baseball game has forced Yankee Stadium’s subletting tenants to move the game. The setting aside, this is an important match for both teams. NYCFC wants to stay in second place in the Eastern Conference, avoiding the knockout round. The Dynamo are a few weeks removed from being in first place, but now have to fight their way back into the playoff positions. They’ve struggled on the road this year (1-9-5), but this will not be a typical road game atmosphere.

Can Montreal Slow Down Atlanta?

There was concern that Atlanta‘s (13-8-7, 46) rapid-fire slate of home games in September would wear it down. So far, United is relishing the opportunity. Over four games in an 11-day span, United has outscored the opposition, 17-3, with 8 of those goals coming from Josef Martínez. Montreal (11-12-6, 39) will be playing its fifth match in 15 days, and the Impact will be looking for a result to claw back above the red playoff line. The Impact pulled off a shocking 5-3 win against Toronto in midweek, and are three points below the sixth-place Red Bulls.

Red Bulls Need to Bounce Back

The Red Bulls (12-10-6, 42) have a trip to Columbus (13-12-5, 44). That’s been a tough place for visitors this year; the Crew are one of just four teams with at least 10 home wins (10-3-2). In addition to strong home form, the Crew will have the advantage of additional rest, with the Red Bulls having suffered midweek disappointment in the U.S. Open Cup final. New York is winless in its last five MLS games, and can’t afford to spend time moping with Montreal nipping at its heels.

Salt Lake Tries to End Seattle’s Streak

Salt Lake (11-14-5, 38) enters the weekend in sixth place, narrowly above the two teams from Texas. To be ensured of remaining in that position, it will have to beat Seattle (11-7-11, 44) on Saturday. Coach Mike Petke‘s side took a while to gel, but since July began RSL is 6-3-2. That includes being unbeaten at home in six games over that span. The Sounders, on the other hand, are unbeaten anywhere in their last 13 games, but they have been held to four straight draws. In May, Seattle edged RSL, 1-0, at home.

Lowly Sides Try to Play Spoiler

Neither Minnesota (8-15-5, 29) nor D.C. (8-17-4, 28) has a chance of making the playoffs this year, but they could have an impact on the race this weekend. Minnesota is playing host to Dallas (9-8-11, 38), a side that hasn’t won in nine games and desperately needs to turn things around. D.C. hosts San Jose (11-12-6, 39), which finds itself on the right side of the red playoff line in fifth place, but only just.