MLS Week 5 Preview: Saturday Night Specials

IMAGE, NEWYORKREDBULLS.COM

by RYAN BRISTER

With the international break over, Major League Soccer resumes a mostly full schedule for the fifth week of the season. Only New York City and Houston are out of action this weekend. The weekend’s most intriguing matchups are perhaps those late on Saturday night in the West.

New England Revolution vs. New York Red Bulls, Friday at 7 p.m. on Unimas

The weekend kicks off Friday night with a meeting between Eastern Conference rivals. Neither has gotten off to the start they would have liked; the Revs are winless so far, while the Red Bulls had to fight to get their first points against Houston two weeks ago. Foxboro has typically been a difficult place for New York to go and get results. New England will not have Je-Vaughn Watson due to his red card against Philadelphia.

Chicago Fire vs. Philadelphia Union, Saturday at 5 p.m.

In these early stages of the season, the Philadelphia Union unexpectedly sit atop the Eastern Conference. They head to Chicago in the hopes of continuing their success. The Fire and Union were at the bottom of the Eastern Conference last year, a strong performance from Philly could suggest a divergence in 2016.

Colorado Rapids vs. Toronto FC, Saturday at 8 p.m.

Clint Irwin will return to Colorado on Saturday as the Rapids host TFC. It’s a homecoming for the keeper who spent three seasons with the Rapids; he won’t get a chance to face off against his replacement in Tim Howard. TFC won’t be coming home for more than a month still; this is the fourth stop on their season-starting road trip.

Sporting Kansas City vs. Real Salt Lake, Saturday 8:30 p.m.

The only team left with an unblemished record, Sporting Kansas City will play host to Real Salt Lake. RSL is also undefeated, but they have blown a pair of two-goal leads in disappointing draws. Don’t be surprised if things get heated; the games between these two are often testy affairs. Kyle Beckerman and Jamison Olave are suspended for the visitors.

FC Dallas vs. Columbus Crew SC, Saturday at 9 p.m.

Dallas will once again have their full assortment of talent available on Saturday night against Columbus. The shorthanded Hoops had no trouble last weekend in DC. Columbus has just a single point through three games, and Dallas seems like a particularly tough place for the Crew to try to get their feet under them.

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

Vancouver hasn’t made it look easy, but after a slow start to their season they now have two straight wins under their belts. They will host the Galaxy, who also have six points from their three games. LA was off last weekend, but the rest will not afford them the return of Steven Gerrard, who suffered a calf injury in their previous game. The Whitecaps will be without Masato Kudo, who earned a suspension for diving last week.

Seattle Sounders vs. Montreal Impact, Saturday at 10 p.m.

Only the Seattle Sounders have failed to earn a point so far this season. The Montreal Impact head West with the goal of keeping things that way. Didier Drogba’s policy of avoiding turf will have the Impact once again without their star forward, but they have won their two games in his absence. The Sounders need to find a way to slow down Ignacio Piatti to grab their first points.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. DC United, Saturday at 10:30 p.m.

DC was one of the few teams in action last week, and they travel across the country to play a rested San Jose side. The Earthquakes were on the wrong side of a beating two weeks ago against LA, after two wins to start their season. DC has just two goals and two points through four games so far; don’t expect this to turn into a barnburner. Marcelo Sarvas and Simon Dawkins are both suspended.

Orlando City SC vs. Portland Timbers, Sunday at 8 p.m. on FS1

Sunday’s only national broadcast sees the Timbers travel to Orlando for the first time. In their meeting last season in Portland, Cyle Larin scored his first professional goal. The Canadian forward already has three this season for the undefeated Lions. His and his team’s form will be put to the test by the defending champions.