MLS is entering the stretch run, and with about ten games left, every game is important. Let’s preview this week’s most interesting matchups.
New England Revolution vs. Columbus Crew (Saturday, 7pm ET)
Clearly, it’s been a difficult season for the reigning champion Crew. They’re all the way back in 10th in the Eastern Conference, and with the other teams around them having games in hand, it’s going to be tough for them to sneak into the playoffs. They escaped a midweek game against the Red Bulls in which they needed two late goals, from Darlington Nagbe and Miguel Berry, to take three points.
The Revolution are the opposite — they’ve won nearly every game they’ve played since mid-July and sit comfortably atop the Supporters’ Shield race. They will have some of their big guns ready to go, including Tajon Buchanan and Adam Buksa, who were on the bench last week. Carles Gil might come off the bench as he returns from a knock. Columbus are still dealing with a number of injuries to starters. The Revs are the favorites and should win this game at home.
Prediction: Revs, 3-1
Minnesota United vs. LA Galaxy (Saturday, 8pm ET)
It was a tough week for Minnesota, as they followed a loss on the weekend to the Sounders with a 4-0 shellacking at the hands of Sporting KC. Those two losses coupled with other results have put them on the outside looking in at the playoff race. Missing the postseason entirely would be a disastrous result for a team that was supposed to contend this season.
Their issue has been the attack, which simply doesn’t have enough to consistently generate chances. They should have Emanuel Reynoso, their top attacker, back from injury, but that might not be enough. The Galaxy, on the other hand, have Chicharito back, and now it’s a matter of turning draws into wins. They’ve taken just a point from each of their past three games.
Prediction: Galaxy, 1-0
Philadelphia Union vs. Orlando City SC (Sunday, 4pm ET, ESPN)
Similar to Minnesota, the Union suddenly find themselves outside the red line. They’re one point back of Atlanta United (with a game in hand) and need to start winning games, especially with Atlanta and Inter Miami looking promising in recent games. Philly took a tough loss this weekend against Club America in the Concacaf Champions League semifinal, falling 2-0 in the second leg and losing 4-0 on aggregate.
Orlando are doing better, sitting a more comfortable third-place, though they lost 3-0 last week to Atlanta and then 4-2 in midweek against Montreal, picking up two red cards (including one to Nani) in the process. They have Mauricio Pereira and Daryl Dike back, which will help, but they’ll be missing the suspended Nani and Andres Perea this weekend. They’re still waiting to hit their stride — now’s the time.
Portland Timbers vs. LAFC (Sunday, 7:30pm ET FS1)
Portland played a wild one in midweek, hosting the contending Rapids and scoring two second half goals (including a stoppage time equalizer) despite going down to 10 men in the first half. Having Sebastian Blanco back makes the Timbers instant contenders. Blanco, who has only started five games this year as he returns from a torn ACL, had a goal and assist against Colorado.
It’s been fun to watch LAFC find their offensive stride in recent weeks. They’ve won their last three games after that entertaining 3-3 draw with the Galaxy, with the recent arrival of Cristian Arango compensating for the departure of Diego Rossi, who was loaned to Fenerbahce. They look incisive around the final third, which could make this a high-scoring game.
Prediction: 3-2, Timbers
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