Preview: MLS Week 27

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MLS_logo.svgWith the international break over, Major League Soccer has a full slate of games this weekend. The biggest event will be in Atlanta, where United will be playing in front of what is expected to be a record-setting crowd. Here’s what to watch for:

Homecoming for Atlanta

Atlanta United (10-8-6, 36 points) will finally play at Mercedes Benz Stadium, on Sunday against Dallas (9-7-10, 37). With a crowd of more than 70,000 expected, Atlanta is poised to break the record for attendance at a standalone MLS game. Those fans will get plenty of chances to see their team — this is the first of six home games in 18 days for United. Dallas is not to be overlooked; winless in their last five games, the visitors will be desperate to spoil the party.

The West Visits the Bronx

New York City (14-7-5, 47) is hosting a pair of Western Conference contenders this week, first facing Kansas City (10-5-10, 40) and then Portland (11-9-8, 41). NYCFC is settling comfortably into second in the Eastern Conference, but these games will serve as a benchmark against the opposite conference. David Villa picked up a minor injury with Spain, so he might not be available for the first of the two matches. Villa’s 19 goals lead the league; Diego Valeri is in second with 16.

Columbus Faces Stingy Sporting

After its trip to New York, SKC heads to Columbus (13-12-3, 42). The Crew have been up-and-down this year, but are on the upswing, with three wins in their last four. They will be facing a Kansas City side that is on pace to post one of the best defensive records in league history. Sporting has allowed 0.76 goals per game, which would be the lowest of any team in the league’s 22 years. 

Can the Revs Keep Streak Alive

On the fringes of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, New England (9-12-5, 32) is hosting Montreal (10-10-6, 36). The Revs have mostly languished near the bottom of the conference this year, but they have won their last four home games. If they are to make a serious push for the playoffs, they will need to win games like this. New England plays the Impact and Atlanta, the two teams ahead of it for the final playoff spot, twice each down the stretch.

Vancouver-RSL Tussle

Vancouver (11-9-5, 38) and Salt Lake (10-13-5, 35) are separated by three points heading into their meeting this weekend, and they sit on opposite sides of the red playoff line. RSL could pull level with a road win, but it has played three more games than the Whitecaps. It makes this game all the more important for Coach Mike Petke’s side as it tries to climb into a playoff spot. Salt Lake has put up eight goals in their last two games, and Albert Rusnak has accounted for four with a goal and three assists.