MLS Weekend Preview
Seattle and Toronto Get a Do-Over. How About a Goal?
May 05, 2017
AN MLS CUP TITLE will not be on the line and it will not be freezing cold, but there will still be plenty of appeal when the Seattle Sounders square up against Toronto FC in a rematch of last year’s final.
CenturyLink Field will be the site for this early afternoon encounter, and surely everyone is hoping for a much better spectacle than the drab title game in Toronto that ended on penalty kicks following a scoreless draw.
With so much star power expected on the field, it seems very unlikely that the affair will end without at least one goal. The Sounders will have a strong stable of players to choose from, including speedy forward Jordan Morris, playmaker Nicolas Lodeiro, and a now-healthy Roman Torres at centerback.
We can probably expect Roman Torres back at his usual position on Saturday https://t.co/NaivVdIOBh— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) May 3, 2017
Star U.S. national team attacker Clint Dempsey, who missed the MLS Cup Final due to a heart condition, will also be at head coach Brian Schmetzer’s disposal. A Seattle side with almost all its weapons is scary to go up against, but throw in the momentum and confidence gained from last week’s dramatic comeback draw at home and you have a club and fanbase that will be entering the weekend on a high.
For Toronto FC, the challenge will be as much physical as it is tactical. Toronto has to navigate through short rest and lengthy travel after winning 2-1 win over Orlando City at BMO Field on Wednesday night. Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore, and Michael Bradley all played in that Eastern Conference showdown and should once again be on the field this weekend given that the Sounders have proven to be vulnerable at the back.
SHOT AT REDEMPTION
Toronto FC isn't the only team that has to manage a quick turnaround—and that is a good thing as far as Cyle Larin and Orlando are concerned.
The Lions lost 2-1 to Toronto on Wednesday but could have grabbed a point and maybe even all three had Larin been his usual lethal self in front of goal. The Canadian striker wasn’t, however, wasting two glorious scoring opportunities in the second half. He accepted blame for the result after the match but can make up for his errors on Saturday night when Orlando wraps up a two-game road trip against the Houston Dynamo.
One player who Orlando City head coach Jason Kreis is unlikely to count on from the start is Kaka. The Brazilian playmaker may have scored in his second straight game back from injury, but he showed plenty of rust before coming off in the 65th minute. Giving the 35-year-old Kaka the heavy workload of starting two games in four days does not make a lot of sense, so expect Kreis to go with a different option like Giles Barnes or Matias Perez-Garcia.
Two other teams will be in action this weekend after competing on Wednesday, and one of those squads, the New York Red Bulls, will be particularly eager to get back on the field.
New York all but threw away its midweek tilt with Sporting Kansas City by fielding a reserve-filled lineup in the 2-0 loss, and will be aiming to get back in the win column on Saturday when it heads south to play the cellar-dwelling Philadelphia Union. The Red Bulls are sure to go with a strong Starting XI but the projected midfield trio of Sacha Kljestan, Felipe, and Tyler Adams will need to be sharp and ready in order to help their club avoid becoming the first to fall to the Union in 2017.
Sporting KC also has a favorable match-up despite hitting the road. Peter Vermes’ men are set to take on struggling expansion outfit Minnesota United, and should be licking their chops given how poor the MLS newcomer looked in a Week 9 home defeat to the San Jose Earthquakes. Dom Dwyer and Benny Feilhaber are the two players to watch here, as both of them were impressive and active in the victory over New York.
BACK IN ACTION
The Colorado Rapids-Vancouver Whitecaps showdown on Friday night is likely to be one of the bigger snoozefests of this round of games, but if you have to watch it do it for no other reason than to see Tim Howard return.
Howard has finished serving his three-match ban for an ugly run-in with Kansas City fans, and is expected to be back in Colorado’s lineup. His reintroduction to the fold should give the Rapids a boost but the club needs more than just the veteran goalkeeper in between the pipes to put a halt to its six-game winless skid.
Two potent attacks will collide in the final game of Week 10 when Atlanta United makes its first trip to the Big Apple to face off with New York City FC. Both Eastern Conference sides have plenty of firepower, and that could make for a high-scoring and entertaining affair.
At the very least, it will be intriguing to see how classy NYCFC striker David Villa fares after signing a contract extension earlier in the week.
MLS WEEK 10 SCHEDULE
Friday’s MLS Game
Colorado Rapids vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
Seattle Sounders vs. Toronto FC
D.C. United vs. Montreal Impact
Philadelphia Union vs. New York Red Bulls
Columbus Crew SC vs. New England Revolution
Houston Dynamo vs. Orlando City
Real Salt Lake vs. FC Dallas
LA Galaxy vs. Chicago Fire
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Portland Timbers
Sunday’s MLS Games
Minnesota United vs. Sporting Kansas City
New York City FC vs. Atlanta United
Franco Panizo is a bilingual New York-based reporter who has covered the U.S. men's national team, MLS, and all levels of American soccer for nearly a decade. Follow him on Twitter.