MLS Week 2 Preview: NYCFC, Yankee Stadium in focus, more

Image, MLSSoccer.com

by RYAN BRISTER
MLS Beat Writer

The 2015 Major League Soccer season began with big crowds in stadiums — and in front of TVs.

The league will be hoping that big start continues through week two and beyond.

The spotlight this weekend is on the Bronx, where NYCFC kicks off the Yankee Stadium soccer experiment in front of a big crowd of their own. While it’s only the second week of the season, four teams—Colorado, DC, Montreal, and the Red Bulls—are off and will be watching from home.

Here are your match previews:

Houston Dynamo vs. Orlando City SC, Friday at 7 p.m. on Unimas

After a record crowd for their home opener, the Dynamo might have a bit more trouble filling the orange seats at BBVA Compass Stadium for an early kickoff on a weekday. The visit from Kaka and Orlando City—the only one this year—could help matters, though.

These two teams played a preseason game in Charleston, which the Dynamo won 3-0. Aurelien Collin, who was sent off in that preseason match, will miss the regular season version after getting a straight red last week.

Chicago Fire vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, Saturday at 6 p.m. 

Chicago and Vancouver both lost in the opening weekend, but they’ll be expecting better results against easier competition. The Fire were extinguished 2-0 against the Galaxy, while the Whitecaps were on the wrong side of Toronto’s big statement.

Columbus Crew vs. Toronto FC, Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

The Trillium Cup isn’t the biggest rivalry in MLS by any means, but Saturday’s game should have quite the atmosphere. More than 3,000 Toronto fans are expected to make the trip to Ohio to see their team take on the Crew. It’s the closest road-trip those fans will have until their star-studded team plays its home opener in May.

While Toronto should be flying high off of their big win in Vancouver, the Crew suffered defeat last week. Things got even worse for them on Thursday. Midfielder Tony Tchani has been suspended for a tackle he made last week against Houston; it earned him only a yellow card at the time.

FC Dallas vs. Sporting Kansas City, Saturday at 8:30 p.m.

Back in the same conference, Dallas and Kansas City might be fighting for a playoff spot when fall rolls around. This is the only game of the weekend between two teams who made the playoffs in 2014. Dallas is coming off of a dramatic victory over San Jose, while SKC managed a draw against the Red Bulls. SKC will be without Matt Besler, who was sent off in that game.

Real Salt Lake vs. Philadelphia Union, Saturday at 9:30 p.m.

Both these teams played scoreless draws in week one, though RSL probably came away happier with that fact than Philly. RSL will be the favorites in their home opener, in front of what should be another sellout crowd. The Union will be glad not to facing the Rapids anymore, after all the fouls they sustained in week one.

Seattle Sounders vs. San Jose Earthquakes, Saturday at 10 p.m.

No team was more impressive in the first week than the Sounders, who won 3-0 against New England. Against San Jose, they’ll be looking to keep up that pace. The Earthquakes could be in for a long night in Seattle, but they have a habit of playing close games against their Heritage Cup rivals. Despite finishing on opposite ends of the Western Conference last year, the Quakes picked up four points from two matches against the Sounders.

New York City FC vs. New England Revolution, Sunday at 5 p.m. on ESPN2

NYCFC will play their first home game in front of more than 30,000 fans on Sunday, with the defending Eastern Conference champions playing the role of villain. The venue has become the story over the week, with concerns rising again about the quality of the pitch at Yankee Stadium. Both NYCFC and New England played their first games on turf.

Lee Nguyen missed the Revs’ game in Seattle, but is expected to play in New York. Unfortunately for the Revs, Teal Bunbury suffered a shoulder injury against the Sounders and will be missing on Sunday. Jermaine Jones is still recovering from an offseason surgery, and won’t be in the New England squad either.

Portland Timbers vs. LA Galaxy, Sunday at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports 1

Neither team allowed a goal in week one, but there’s no reason to expect a snoozer between Portland and LA on Sunday. The Timbers and Galaxy combined for 10 goals in their three matches in 2014. The Galaxy love to dominate games with possession, but the Timbers are more than capable of scoring goals on the counter. It all should add up to a fun one in front of the Timbers Army.