MLS Week 10: Three Games to Watch

The 10th week of MLS play features a rematch of the 2016 championship game, another edition of Can Philly Get Off the Schneid? and the latest stop in the FC Dallas unbeaten tour.

Four teams played on Wednesday and go right back at it this weekend. The same pattern will be repeated later in May with more teams as the number of midweek games increases to make up for reduced schedules during the FIFA international break and start of play in the Gold Cup.

Here are three games to watch this weekend.

SAME TEAMS, DIFFERENT VENUE. Stunned at home by Seattle in the title game five months ago, Toronto FC gets its chance for revenge at CenturyLink Field Saturday (ESPN, ESPN Deportes, MLS Live, 3 p.m.). Both teams are loaded with talent and relatively healthy, so a memorable match could be in store. Less likely is a repeat of the dismal encounter of last December.

Sebastian Giovinco scored twice in TFC’s 2-1 defeat of Orlando City on Wednesday to match a pair tallied by Jozy Altidore last Friday as it beat Houston, 2-0, and his own double in a 3-1 victory over the Fire April 21. A fourth straight triumph could push TFC into the Eastern Conference lead, a scenario hard to envision two weeks ago when defensive linchpin Drew Moor was sidelined with an irregular heartbeat.

The back three of Justin Morrow, Nick Hagglund and Eriq Zavaleta has neatly complemented the offensive heroics of Giovinco and Altidore during TFC’s run, but has another tough task in containing Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris and Nicolas Lodeiro, whose maddening elusiveness must be tracked by Michael Bradley and his midfield mates.

Seattle has not played since tying the Revs, 3-3, at home last Saturday, and during the week will have felt the wrath of head coach Brian Schmetzer for leaking a trio at home in the first place.

As of yet, the Sounders haven’t restored the rhythm of their title run last season, as the 2-2-4 record indicates. In their last three games, the defending champs have ridden a roller-coaster of surrendering a last-minute goal in a 1-1 tie at San Jose, running the Galaxy off the park at StubHub Center in a 3-0 rout, and rallying to tie the Revs.

Maybe the Sounders last weekend were looking ahead to this MLS Cup rematch. They play two road games in four days next week, and are hovering on the edge of the playoff tier. They need the points.
 
RED BULLS POINT TO RIVALRY GAME. Head coach Jesse Marsch used Sacha Kljestan and Bradley Wright-Phillips off the bench Wednesday in a 2-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City; safe to say they will start against Philadelphia (Saturday, MLS Live, 7 p.m.), and a few more changes could be implemented.

“Obviously we had to play a makeshift lineup to get through this week the right way and go down to Philly and get what we think are going to be some important intra-conference points,” said Marsch Wednesday after SKC took command of the game by scoring twice early in the second half.

Also obvious is Marsch’s confidence the Red Bulls can get points at Philly; in the last three trips, they have won twice (2-0, 3-1) and tied (2-2), and are facing the league’s only winless team. Yet the second-place Red Bulls are 1-4-0 on the road.

The Union found yet another way to not win by blanking the Galaxy at StubHub Center while mustering just two shots on goal. During a three-game homestand in April it was outscored, 8-4, so coming back to Talen Energy Stadium isn’t a guarantee of anything. Head coach Jim Curtin needs an excellent effort from his players to turn around a season already teetering on the brink of disaster, and at least it goes into this rivalry game with a shutout in its holster. But does another 0-0 tie, or any tie, quiet the hounds? Not likely.
 
REAL QUANDRY. Midfielder Javier Morales will join his wife and two sons and visit with a few thousand members of his extended family when he and FC Dallas play Real Salt Lake (Saturday, MLS Live, 9:30 p.m.) for the first time since he left Utah for Texas in December.

During his decade with RSL (2007-16), the club rose from expansion straggler to mid-market marvel, but it is at a crossroads under a recently hired head coach (Mike Petke), who had to discipline a star for missing a flight home and being late to practice (Joao Plata) and is cobbling together a defense without one starter who is suspended (Chris Schuler), another coming back from injury (Aaron Maund), and yet another also questionable if not doubtful (Justen Glad).

Petke started his RSL stint with two wins but RSL has been beaten by Sporting Kansas City (3-0) and Atlanta United (3-1) in its last two games. If Maund cannot start, veteran Chris Wingert could be paired in the middle with 2017 SuperDraft pick Justin Schmidt. In Schmidt’s three starts to date, RSL has lost all three by combined scores of 8-3.

FCD is showing a bit of that unbeaten swagger even without injured orchestrator Mauro Diaz and will be out to atone for a tie at Kansas City (0-0) in the second game of the season and a 1-1 tie in San Jose – which equalized in the final seconds – three weeks ago that it felt should have been victories.

FCD needed to rally twice last week to garner a 2-2 tie at home with Portland and head coach Oscar Pareja will favor an aggressive approach despite being the road team. The stage is set for Morales; though he has scored only one goal and has yet to register an assist, FCD has outscored opponents, 4-1, with him on the field.

1 comment about "MLS Week 10: Three Games to Watch".
  1. Quarterback TD, May 5, 2017 at 8:50 a.m.

    Please don't add Philly Union as a game to watch. It more like a comedy to laugh at. People in Pennsylvania should be appalled by this garbage team. Personally I have never seen Pennsylvania with such a garbage team in any sport. They are so trashy even the sanitation guy will not touch them.

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