The Red Bulls did it last night. Winless in six, Mike Petke’s team gave its best performance of the season, taking a two-goal lead on Philadelphia before claiming a 2-1 victory at Red Bull Arena. Finally finishing some of its chances, New York broke from the ranks of the winless.
That leaves four teams chasing their first win, with San Jose at the bottom of the league’s standings with two points. That the Earthquakes have had two bye weeks leaves their record less concerning than the other winless teams. Chicago has drawn five games in a row, while Montréal has been held to a point in each of its last three. Portland, first in the West at the 2013 regular season, is coming off a home draw with Chivas USA.
For Chicago, the underlying form has been there, leaving hope the Fire can crack the win column soon soon. But for Montréal and Portland, road games against last year’s MLS Cup finalists leave each unlikely to see victory this weekend.
Here’s what all four winless teams face this weekend, ranked from most-to-least likely to break through:
Mostly likely: Chicago Fire, vs. New England, Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
New England has won twice this season, but Jay Heaps’ team hasn’t necessarily looked better than Chicago while doing so. Where the Fire has had trouble going 90 minutes without a mistake in defense, the Revolution can’t score, finding net only four times in six games (albeit twice on Saturday).
With Teal Bunbury yet to score for his new team, Chicago’s defensive errors are less likely to be punished. The team with a -1 goal difference (Chicago) are a good bet against a team tied for worst in the league (-4), particularly if Jose Gonçalves isn’t there to help with Quincy Amarikwa.
Not as likely: Colorado Rapids vs. San Jose Earthquakes, Saturday, 6:00 p.m. ET
Winless in four, San Jose’s only played one bad game: It’s loss three weeks ago to New England. While that hints at a quality that transcends the Earthquakes’ record, that doesn’t mean they’ll break through this weekend.
In wins at Vancouver and Toronto, Colorado’s shown a resourcefulness and depth that could trouble anybody. The Earthquakes could give another decent performance and still leave Commerce City, Col., with a loss.
Probably won’t happen: Sporting Kansas City vs. Montréal Impact, Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET
In our power rankings, these teams were ranked one and 18, though the forward pairing of Marco Di Vaio and Jack McInerney could, in theory, give Aurélien Collin and Matt Besler problems. More likely, Matteo Ferrari and Kari Ouimette are going to have trouble with Kansas City’s pressure, leaving their fullbacks (or themselves) lofting long balls toward the Sporting defense. If the ball is on the ground, Di Vaio’s movement and McInerney’s poaching could be a problem. If the ball’s in the air? Collin (and, Kansas City) will dominate.
Also unlikely to happen: Real Salt Lake vs. Portland Timbers, Saturday, 9:30 p.m. ET
The Timbers were winless in six games against Real Salt Lake last season, and that’s when they were good. This year, Portland’s been unable to protect their defense, leaving one of this year’s Western Conference favorites with four points in six games. While snapping that winless run against their nemesis would help put a poor start in the rearview, RSL may also see Saturday’s game as a chance to break into its own elusive win column. Jeff Cassar’s team is undefeated, but it’s also only won twice, with the team it mastered last year giving them a chance to claim its first win in three weeks.