Sporting Kansas City v Chicago Fire

Winless Watch: Which MLS team’s most likely to break through this weekend?

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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.

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City SC 2-1 Montreal Impact

Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC

The game in 100 words (or less): For weeks, it was a widely held belief that the Montreal Impact would snatch up the sixth and final playoff place in the Eastern Conference with little or no resistance from their opposition. As they went six games unbeaten (four wins), all looked to be setting up perfect for the club that fired Frank Klopas midseason, but there was another team in the race for sixth that kept winning themselves: Orlando City SC. On Saturday night, Montreal and Orlando City faced off at the Citrus, with the expansion Lions claiming their fourth-straight victory with a 2-1 triumph. Montreal now holds a one-point lead on Orlando in the race for sixth, and have two games in hand, but it’s no longer a foregone conclusion L’Impact will qualify for the playoffs no resistance whatsoever.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

33′ — Bush’s mistake gifts Larin the opening goal — Larin did what your taught to do as a striker — “put it on frame, test the goalkeeper” — but in no universe does a shot so feeble have any business finding the back of the net. Evan Bush has been great this year. Hopefully (for Montreal’s sake), this howler doesn’t turn into the yips with the playoffs looming.

43′ — Hall’s “mistake” gifts Oduro an equalizer — Dominic Oduro equalized in the 43rd minute, when he took the ball out of the hands of Tally Hall and smashed it into the back of the net, but the goal should have been disallowed due to Hall having full control of the ball.

80′ — Hines hits the winner for Orlando — Seb Hines put the ball back into the mixer and just so happened to find the back of the net in the 80th minute. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

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Man of the match: Seb Hines

Goalscorers: Larin (33′), Oduro (43′), Hines (80′)

MLS Snapshot: NY Red Bulls 2-1 Columbus Crew SC

Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls
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The game in 100 words (or less): Two weeks in a row Columbus Crew SC have had a chance to go top of the Eastern Conference with a victory, and two weeks in a row Crew SC have failed to take a single point from massively important fixtures. Their latest defeat, a 2-1 humbling at the hands of the East-leading New York Red Bulls, started so well for Gregg Berhalter’s side, but was undone by a pair of costly, comedic defensive errors that allowed Lloyd Sam and Bradley Wright-Phillips (15th of the season) to erase an early deficit (Justin Meram) and win all three points. The result not only keeps the Red Bulls top of the East, but gives them a three- and four-point cushion with three and two games in hand on their nearest competitors., D.C. United and New England Revoltion respectively. For Crew SC, they’re four points back of the Red Bulls in fourth place, one point ahead of fifth-place Toronto FC, who have a game in hand.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

9′ — Meram pokes it past Robles for an early lead — Meram “earned” his goal all the way back in midfield, when the Iraqi international’s mazy run took a routine turnover inside Crew SC’s defensive half and turned it into a dangerous counter-attacking opportunity. Harrison Afful overlapped and provided the cross for Meram to send home.

12′ — Sam capitalizes on multiple mistakes to equalize — Crew SC pass the ball out of the back. They don’t boot it forward to clear. It’s just what they do. Sometimes, that’ll bite you. When your goalkeeper and right back both have blunders clearing the ball 10 seconds apart, you probably deserve to concede an ugly, scrappy goal.

21′ — Wright-Phillips capitalizes on more defensive gaffes — See the above description for Red Bulls goal no. 1.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Damien Perrinelle

Goalscorers: Meram (9′), Sam (12′), Wright-Phillips (21′)