MLS Week 17 Preview: Rivalry Week

Yankee Stadium Soccer NYCFC

by RYAN BRISTER
MLS Writer

It is rivalry week in Major League Soccer. Dallas will host Houston, San Jose will face LA, Portland and Seattle will meet again, and the Red Bulls will make their first trip to Yankee Stadium to play NYCFC. Bragging rights are up for grabs across the league.

FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo, Friday at 9 p.m. on Unimas

The second leg of this year’s Texas Derby moves to Dallas on Friday night. Earlier in the season, the Hoops tore apart the Dynamo in Houston, winning 4-1. But Dallas has only rarely looked that good this season, and they’ve been inconsistent since. With a road win, the Dynamo would pull level with their in-state rivals on 23 points. They’d also end a five-game losing streak against Dallas.

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

Toronto is the only team to win in DC this season; on Saturday they get a chance to host the top team in MLS. The league’s scheduling disparities are on full display in this match-up. United has 12 more points than TFC, but they’ve played five more games. Both teams grabbed wins on Wednesday night, and Toronto looked especially impressive in their victory over Montreal.

Philadelphia Union vs. Montreal Impact, Saturday at 7 p.m.

Fresh off their loss in Toronto, the Impact head to Philly to face the Union. In addition to their proximity in the standings (though the Union have played five extra matches), this game holds special significance for Jack McInerney and Andrew Wenger, who were traded for each other last season. Jack Mac has three goals so far this year for Montreal, while Wenger has struggled with the Union.

New England Revolution vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

The Whitecaps head across the country with an opportunity to claim the top spot in the Western Conference for themselves. For the Revolution, who have just one victory in their last nine matches, their place in the Eastern Conference has become increasingly crowded in recent weeks. Expect a low-scoring affair; Vancouver has scored and allowed a combined nine goals in eight away games this season.

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

Not only are the Rapids last in the Western Conference, they are five points behind the ninth-place team. Their two wins are two fewer than any other team in the league. SKC is undefeated against the Rapids in eight games going back to 2009. This is the second time this year that Colorado has traveled to Kansas City, but their game in May was rescheduled due to poor weather.

Real Salt Lake vs. Columbus Crew SC, Saturday at 10 p.m. 

Salt Lake spent their midweek at Red Bull Arena, so Columbus will actually have the easier travel for this RSL home game. As a result of Wednesday’s red cards, Javier Morales and Demar Phillips are suspended for an RSL side that’s already struggling with absences. Alvaro Saborio has already checked out for the Gold Cup, where he’ll play for Costa Rica.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. LA Galaxy, Saturday at 10:30 p.m. 

The annual California Clasico at Stanford Stadium gets overshadowed a bit by certain other Rivalry Week matches, but it has always produced entertainment. The Galaxy have scored five goals in each of their last two matches, but will have a road crowd of about 50,000 to contend with in NorCal. The Earthquakes and Galaxy will play again on Tuesday in the U.S. Open Cup.

New York City FC vs. New York Red Bulls, Sunday at 5 p.m. on ESPN

The first Hudson River Derby at Yankee Stadium has already sold more than 40,000 tickets, and NYCFC expects a larger crowd than their home opener. Since they beat NYCFC at home in May, the Red Bulls are just 1-4-1. City, meanwhile, has gone 3-1-2, and enters Sunday’s big match on a three-game winning streak. The hype surrounding this match has pushed the game onto ESPN’s flagship network, the first time MLS has been on the channel this season.

Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders, Sunday at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports 1

After the big New York derby, the nightcap is the simple matter of the Cascadia Cup. Clint Dempsey is suspended for his actions the last time these teams met, just two weeks ago in the U.S. Open Cup. Without both him and Obafemi Martins, the Sounders have failed to score in and lost their last two matches. It’s a perfect opportunity for the Timbers to grab their first MLS win over their rivals since 2013.