MLS Week 3 Preview: Sounders to Unfurl Championship Banner

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

By RYAN BRISTER

Expect some big crowds this weekend, especially for the nationally televised (Fox Sports 1) marquee match at CenturyLink Field where Major League Soccer’s defending champion Seattle Sounders play their first home game of the year, hosting the unbeaten New York Red Bulls. (Home teams listed first; all times Eastern.)

New York City FC vs. Montreal, Saturday, 2 p.m.

The weekend starts with a matinee at Yankee Stadium. NYC’s home match last Sunday wasplayed on a frigid afternoon; this week’s forecast is for rain. The Impact would like to get the sour taste out of their mouths after yielding two goals in the final 10 minutes in a 2-2 tie against the Sounders.

Atlanta United vs. Chicago, Saturday, 4 p.m. (Unimás)

Coming off its inaugural victory (in snowy Minnesota), Atlanta returns home and expects another sellout, albeit at a reduced capacity of 45,000 at Bobby Dodd Stadium. This will be the first MLS game streamed live on Facebook (in English) as part of a new deal among the league, the social network and Univision.

Vancouver vs. Toronto FC, Saturday, 4 p.m. 

Vancouver and Toronto play the first all-Canadian match of the year. The teams last met in the deciding game of the Canadian championship, which TFC won on a dramatic goal by Will Johnson. The Whitecaps return to league play after a midweek loss to Tigres in the CONCACAF Champions League.

D.C. United vs. Columbus, Saturday, 7 p.m.

A crowded Saturday night schedule kicks off with D.C. and the Crew. Both teams are coming off blowout losses on the road, and will be eager to get on the right track. D.C. is seeking its first goal of the season.

Orlando City vs. Philadelphia, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

Philadelphia is the visitor for the first night game at Orlando City Stadium. The Lions were off last week, with their visit to New England postponed by weather. The Union played their second draw of the season. Orlando will be without Kaká, who was injured in Orlando’s opening-day win over NYCFC.

FC Dallas vs. New England, Saturday, 8 p.m.

Dallas and New England will meet for the first time since last year’s U.S. Open Cup final. Dallas won big on that occasion, and the teams’ forms haven’t changed much since. The hosts are coming off a win over Pachuca in their CONCACAF Champions League semifinals.

Sporting Kansas City vs. San Jose, Saturday, 8:30 p.m.

Kansas City hosts San Jose in a Western Conference clash. The good news for SKC is it hasn’t conceded a goal so far this season; the bad news is that it hasn’t scored one. We’ll see if one of those trends changes against the Earthquakes.

Colorado vs. Minnesota United, Saturday, 9 p.m.

It’s clear from its two opening games that Minnesota has deep problems on the back line, but the Rapids are not a side known for scoring a lot of goals.

Real Salt Lake vs. Los Angeles, Saturday, 9:30 p.m.

Salt Lake and Los Angeles will play in a rematch of last year’s playoffs. RSL’s season ended unceremoniously against the Galaxy. This year’s Galaxy side has not yet worked out the kinks; they’ve started 0-2 for the first time since 2001.

Portland vs. Houston, Saturday, 10:30 p.m.

The top two teams in the Western Conference face off at Providence Park. Portland’s place atop the early-season standings is perhaps less surprising than Houston, which has also won its first two games. The Dynamo’s explosive attack has been a surprise; how well will it travel for their first road game?

Seattle vs. Red Bulls, Sunday, 7 p.m. (Fox Sports 1)

The upper deck at CenturyLink Field will be open as the Sounders unfurl their MLS Cup banner. This year, they’ve gotten off to a slow start, and the Red Bulls appear more than capable of spoiling the party.