MLS Week 7 Preview: Midweek games begin

Red Bulls

by RYAN BRISTER

It took seven weeks, but midweek games have arrived to the Major League Soccer schedule. That means thirteen games will be played this week instead of the standard ten.

Conveniently, all six of the teams playing in midweek will be playing each other over the weekend, meaning no one will be disadvantaged by the scheduling.

Sporting Kansas City vs. Colorado Rapids, Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.

This fixture last year was postponed due to torrential rains. The forecast calls for 72 and sunny when Kansas City hosts Colorado this time around. SKC has the best record in MLS through six weeks, but would like to make up for their last home match, when they lost to RSL. The Rapids have scored and allowed three goals in their five games, the fewest in each category. Kansas City will likely have to work hard to break them down. They’ll be doing so in jerseys inspired by the rainbow shirts of the 1996 Kansas City Wiz.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. New York Red Bulls, Wednesday at 10:30 p.m.

San Jose will be looking to continue and take advantage of the slow start New York is happening on Wednesday night. Aside from an attacking outburst against Houston, the Red Bulls have found it impossible to score this season. That’s a trend they’ll likely have to break if they want a point on the road here. The Earthquakes have scored in each of their matches so far this season.

Portland Timbers vs. FC Dallas, Wednesday at 10:30 p.m.

It’s a rematch of last year’s Western Conference Championship when Portland hosts Dallas Wednesday night. In November, the Timbers built a big edge at home in the first leg before going on to win MLS Cup. Their start to 2016 has gone less smoothly so far, particularly given the absence of Liam Ridgewell. The Timbers will also be without Darlington Nagbe, who is fortunate to have only a sprained ankle following his encounter with Nigel de Jong on Sunday. It bodes well for Dallas’ revenge fantasies.

Houston Dynamo vs. LA Galaxy, Friday at 7 p.m. on Unimas

The Friday night game on Unimas is Houston vs. LA. The Dynamo have shown a nasty habit of giving up leads late this season; they really should have more than five points so far. The Galaxy will have Giovani dos Santos once again as they seek to cure road woes that have plagued them going back to last season. If there is justice in MLS, Nigel de Jong will not be playing in this game.

Chicago Fire vs. Montreal Impact, Saturday at 5 p.m.

It’s a homecoming for Harry Shipp, as his new team travels to Chicago to play his old team on Saturday. Shipp was traded after two years with his hometown Fire this offseason. The Impact boast the top record in the Eastern Conference to date, and they should have Didier Drogba available for Saturday’s game; it’ll be just the second game they’ve played on natural grass so far.

DC United vs. Toronto FC, Saturday at 5 p.m.

DC United took their first win in dominant fashion last week against Vancouver; on Saturday they host another Canadian team in the hopes of maintaining that momentum. Toronto also has just a single win on the season; theirs came on opening day at Red Bull Arena. Both teams will view this game as an opportunity to get three points.

Columbus Crew vs. New York City FC, Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Columbus Crew SC enters week six with the worst record in MLS. They’ll attempt to change that fact when they play New York City on Saturday. The Blues have been feeling the blues at home of late, with no wins in four tries, so perhaps a trip to the wide open spaces of Columbus will do them well. The Crew have yet to win a game at any location this season.

Colorado Rapids vs. New York Red Bulls, Saturday at 9 p.m.

Both Colorado and New York will get in some traveling this week before they meet outside Denver. This game could be the Rapids debut of Jermaine Jones, whose suspension officially ends with Wednesday night’s game in Kansas City. He knows the Red Bulls well from his days in New England, and was part of his fair share of animosity between the clubs.

Real Salt Lake vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, Saturday at 10 p.m.

Real Salt Lake has been a surprising success, unbeaten through five games so far. They’ll put that record on the line against Vancouver on Saturday. The Whitecaps have struggled to score from open play, they might take note of a Salt Lake defense which has hiccuped at times.

Seattle Sounders vs. Philadelphia Union, Saturday at 10 p.m

Historically, it’s not often that these teams meet with Philadelphia sitting higher in the standings than Seattle. But in the early season, the Union have shown themselves to be greatly improved, while the Sounders struggle to find stability. A Saturday night home game could be just what the doctor ordered for Sigi Schmid’s side.

Portland Timbers vs. San Jose Earthquakes, Saturday at 10:30 p.m.

San Jose took a 2-1 win over Portland at Avaya Stadium in March, thanks in part to one of the best goals so far this year by Quincy Amerikwa. They meet again, this time in Portland, on Saturday night. The injury plagued Timbers have sputtered out of the gate, but two home games this week provide them an opportunity to make their record look a whole lot better. The Earthquakes will be traveling up from the Bay Area after a midweek game against New York.

Orlando City vs. New England Revolution, Sunday at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN

Soccer Sunday gets underway at the Citrus Bowl, with Orlando hosting New England in an Eastern Conference clash. The Lions suffered their first loss of the year last week in Philly; they’ll be hoping home turf treats them more kindly. The Revolution, despite having just one win, currently sit fourth in the East with seven points. Another draw in Orlando would probably make Jay Heaps happy.

FC Dallas vs. Sporting Kansas City, Sunday at 7 p.m. on FS1

Two of the top teams in the West so far will meet in Texas to end the week. Kansas City has won both of their away matches so far, while Dallas is unbeaten in four home games. The game has already sold out the reduced-capacity Toyota Stadium; Dallas’ poor attendance to date has been a blotch on their bright start. The tarps over the south end seating won’t look great on national TV, but they are just temporary while construction begins on the National Soccer Hall of Fame.