MLS Week 5 Preview

MLS New Ball

MLS Beat Writer

Major League Soccer has a full compliment of players again after last week’s international break, but not every team is in action for week five. Both New York teams have the week off, in addition to the Columbus Crew and Montreal Impact. That leaves eight games for the weekend, just one of which features two teams who made the playoffs last year.

Orlando City SC vs. DC United, Friday at 7 p.m. on UniMas

The excitement in Orlando shows no signs of wearing off, and another crowd of 30,000 is expected for their third MLS home game. The Lions are still hampered by injuries to Cristian Higuita and Lewis Neal, but the return of internationals will allow them to stock a more complete bench against DC. The visitors will be without Steve Birnbaum, who sprained his ankle last week.

Chicago Fire vs. Toronto FC, Saturday at 3 p.m.

Toronto’s long road trip continues with a stop in Chicago. The Reds are coming off a tough loss last week against RSL, but they’ll have Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore back in the lineup as they take on the Fire. Chicago finally got a win in week four, but TFC could be a tougher task. Toronto forward Luke Moore earned a suspension, though not a red card, for a challenge last week.

Colorado Rapids vs. New England Revolution, Saturday at 7 p.m.

The Rapids have neither scored nor allowed a goal so far in 2015. The latter of those two trends will be harder to maintain against the New England Revolution, who looked much-improved last week against San Jose. Jermaine Jones has been in training this week and could be available to the Revs for the first time this season.

Seattle Sounders vs. Houston Dynamo, Saturday at 10 p.m.

The Sounders should be close to full health for Saturday night’s game against Houston. Both Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins are expected to be available after missing last week’s match. Without either of them, Seattle was unable to create a shot on target against 10-man Dallas. The Dynamo, meanwhile, have produced the fewest shots in MLS through four games. At home, the Sounders should expect a win here.

Portland Timbers vs. FC Dallas, Saturday at 10 p.m.

Portland and Dallas have started the year in opposite directions, just like last year. While the Timbers have just three points from four matches, Dallas remains undefeated. Dallas midfielder Mauro Diaz, who missed last week’s game, is questionable for Saturday night. Kellyn Acosta is suspended after earning a red card against Seattle.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. LA Galaxy, Saturday at 10:30 p.m.

The Whitecaps have won three games in a row, all by one goal margins. Along with Dallas, they have leapt to the top of the Western Conference early this season. The Galaxy have seen diminishing returns so far, but they should be a stiff challenge to the Whitecaps early form.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Real Salt Lake, Sunday at 5 p.m. on ESPN2

Avaya Stadium had a successful unveiling two weeks ago; San Jose fans will hope for more of the same from game number two. For the second week in a row, Salt Lake is in the national spotlight. RSL got their first win last week at home against Toronto. They won’t have Sebastian Jaime, who suffered a bone bruise last week and will miss Sunday’s game.

Sporting Kansas City vs. Philadelphia Union, Sunday at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports 1 

Sporting Kansas City moved to the Western Conference in the offseason, but in week five they play their third game against Eastern opposition. They got their first win last week at Yankee Stadium, and now return home to take on the Union. Philly has started the season slowly, and Fred is suspended for his red-card slap last week.