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MLS preview

Compelling RBNY-Dallas matchup, questions abound for TFC-NYCFC, & more

MLS is back after 10 days off for the start of the World Cup and there is a strong slate of games this weekend including a bunch of teams with a lot of question marks. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
June 22, 2018
6:00 AM
THE 2018 WORLD CUP is in full swing but MLS returns to action this weekend with a full slate of games starting on Saturday. Here is what ASN will be watching in these games.

Red Bulls host Dallas

The best game of the weekend takes place on Saturday in New Jersey when the Red Bulls host FC Dallas. On the surface, you have two well-coached teams who are among the best in the league.

But beyond that, there is a lot to keep an eye on.

Red Bull coach Jesse Marsch has been linked to the Salzburg and RB Leipzig gig in recent weeks although Leipzig announced its new manager yesterday. But then this surfaced. 

But this game has a lot to like for American fans. For one, it will feature two players who should be key for the U.S. U-23 Olympic team FC Dallas right back Reggie Cannon and Red Bull midfielder Tyler Adams, 19, who has also blossomed into a full U.S. international.

On top of that, there are also other American players on the field who are trying to break into the U.S national team. Tim Parker is one of the best central defenders in the league and is coming off two impressive first caps. FC Dallas has improved this season and has been helped by the return to form of Kellyn Acosta who had hernia surgery in March to fix a problem that had been bothering him for nearly a year.

And with Parker and Acosta, they are also two players to keep an eye on for potential moves to Europe as rumors have begun to circulate.

Meanwhile, Zack Steffen appears to be the U.S. national team number one goalkeeper right now but FC Dallas keeper Jesse Gonzalez could enter into the equation.

Irrespective of nationalities, this is just a big game for two teams looking to move towards to the top of their respective conferences.

FC Dallas is currently even on points with Sporting Kansas City in the Western Conference but has played one fewer game. The Red Bulls have played just 14 games and could move into second place in the tough Eastern Conference with a win.

Post Kreis era begins in Orlando

Last week Jason Kreis was fired by Orlando City after a six game losing streak. The team is actually in decent shape at sixth place in the Eastern Conference and the season is salvageable. On Wednesday, Orlando advanced to the final eight of the US Open Cup with a shootout win over DC United.

Will the momentum from the Open Cup help reverse the slide? Fortunately for Orlando and interim head coach Bobby Murphy, the team faces a beatable Montreal team at home on Saturday.

Orlando has talent on its roster. In this game on Saturday, the only significant loss will be Yoshi Yotun who is still with Peru at the World Cup. But Sacha Kljestan is still an effective midfielder, Chris Mueller is one of the rookies of the year, and Dom Dwyer can score goals in droves.

There are also reports that Caleb Porter is in contention to be the next manager for Orlando. No matter what, it will be up to him to find a way to get Orlando to play to the sum of its parts.

As for Kreis? It is hard to see where he goes from here after failed stops in New York and now Orlando. 

Many questions in NYCFC - Toronto matchup

It might not be the best game of the weekend but the NYCFC-Toronto matchup on Sunday in the Bronx has the most compelling questions. It is impossible to predict.

After Patrick Vieira left NYCFC last week to take the Nice job, the Domenec Torrent-era begins at Yankee Stadium. Torrent had been Pep Guardiola’s “right hand mand” at Manchester City and will now move into the head coaching ranks for the first time since 2006 when he was in charge of Girona in his native Spain.

What will be the approach under Torrent? He is inheriting a strong team that is in second place of the Eastern Conference but will the players buy into his system and approach?

Meanwhile, Toronto continues to find itself in a nightmare following its run to the final of the CONCACAF Champions League. During that run, the team rested its top players in league games and it was thought the results would improve when head coach Greg Vanney began to focus solely on the league again.

That has not been the case as the team has continued to struggle and the absence of Jozy Altidore does not come close to explaining all of the team’s problems. Defensively, the team has been vulnerable to breakdowns. Mentally, the team has had a tough time in hard-fought games.

Both teams will have a lot to prove.

Surging Atlanta and Portland square off

It is one of the games where something has to give. Atlanta United is currently the best team in MLS and sits atop the race for the Supporters Shield with the best overall record in the league. Meanwhile, Portland is coming into the game with two consecutive draws but won the six previous games. It hasn’t lost since April 6.

One of the interesting storylines is that it will be the first time that Darlington Nagbe has faced his former team since joining Atlanta from Portland in the offseason.

The league has imported a lot of South American players the past few years but this game will have a strong South American feel.

It starts with the coaches as Giovanni Savarese was born in Venezuela and Tata Martino hails from Argentina.

The best players are also from South America. For Atlanta MLS leading scorer Josef Martinez is from Venezuela, the expensive Ezequiel Barco is from Argentina, and Miguel Almiron is a mainstay for Paraguay’s national team.

For Portland, Diego Valeri and Sebastian Blanco are among the top attacking midfielders in the league and both are from Argentina. Colombia’s Diego Chara is also expected to start in the midfield alongside Paraguay’s Cristhian Paredes.

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