MLS Week 22 preview: El Trafico, Sounders-Timbers and more

Written By Harrison Hamm on August 25, 2021

Right after this week’s All-Star game and skills competition, MLS is heading into a big week of games.

There are a number of major rivalry matches and derbies, some of which are also matchups of the league’s top teams with playoff implications. As usual, let’s take a look at some notable games, and this time go rapid fire with previews and picks.

Atlanta United vs. Nashville SC (Saturday, 3:30pm ET, Univision/Twitter)

This game is particularly notable for being Gonzalo Pineda’s first game in charge of Atlanta.

He will certainly be expected to keep the ideas that interim coach Rob Valentino has used to great effect during Atlanta’s recent turnaround, including playing Marcelino Moreno in the center as opposed to the wing. Nashville is embarking on a long stretch of mostly road games to the end the season, and their task is clear: gather points to secure a home playoff spot.

Prediction: 1-1 draw

LAFC vs. LA Galaxy (Saturday, 7pm ET, FOX)

This game is obviously the highlight of the week. El Trafico never disappoints, and while the star power might take a hit with Chicharito and Carlos Vela possibly out, the importance of the game isn’t diminished.

For the first time in their existence, LAFC is solidly behind the Galaxy in the standings. Still, Bob Bradley’s side has actually played better than the standings indicate, and they’re bound to end their three-game losing streak.

Prediction: 3-2 LAFC

NYCFC vs. New England Revolution (Saturday, 7:30pm ET)

I’m not quite sure what the MLS schedulers were doing on this one, because this matchup of juggernauts will be completely overshadowed by El Trafico on Saturday night.

These are the two best teams in the Eastern Conference. The Revs will likely still be missing Carles Gil, who has been out for a few weeks and had to pull out of the All-Star game, but New England haven’t missed a beat. NYC has struggled to put it all together lately.

Prediction: 2-1 Revolution

D.C. United vs. Philadelphia Union (Saturday, 8pm ET)

DCU took a pair of losses last week, but they shouldn’t dampen the optimism around the team too much — they were playing good teams, and their list of injuries remains long. They’ll have another tough test against a Union team that has midfielder Jamiro Monteiro back. You never know which young Union player comes through in any given game. Last weekend, it was Quinn Sullivan scoring Philly’s goal in a scrappy 1-1 draw with CF Montreal.

Prediction: 1-0 Union

Sporting KC vs. Colorado Rapids (Saturday, 9pm ET)

After SKC sputtered a bit last week, picking up draws against Portland and Minnesota, this game could vault the Rapids past Sporting for second-place in the Western Conference. Colorado already has two games in hand and has seamlessly integrated new arrival Mark-Anthony Kaye, who scored the winner last weekend against Real Salt Lake. It will be tough for SKC to keep their place. They’ll take a big step at home this week.

Prediction: 2-0 Sporting KC

Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers (Sunday, 10:30pm ET, ESPN)

It was only a couple of weeks ago that the Sounders and Timbers played a wildly entertaining game at Providence Park. It finished 6-2, with the Sounders piling up goals in the second half. That game exposed the Timbers’ defensive weaknesses, which have not gone away. In their most recent game, they gave up three first half goals to the offensively inept Austin FC and went on to lose 3-1.

That will make things difficult against an in-form Sounders team. They didn’t even play particularly well last weekend against Columbus, but managed to find two goals after the 85th-minute to come away with a 2-1 win. Nicolas Lodeiro started that game. Seattle finally getting healthy is a scary thought for the rest of the league.

Prediction: 3-1 Sounders

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