It’s hard to believe the MLS regular season is already halfway done, but that’s the truth.
Two Eastern Conference sides continue to dazzle in the Supporters’ Shield race, and while one of them was expected to have success in 2017 the other is putting on a surprise performance for the ages.
The Texas Derby will kick off one of several rivalry matches this weekend, while will be headlined by Saturday afternoon’s clash at Red Bull Arena between the New York Red Bulls and New York City FC.
The weekend will come to a close late on Sunday night when a Cascadia rivalry is renewed as the Portland Timbers host the Seattle Sounders in a critical Western Conference bout.
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Here’s a full look at the MLS docket ahead of a busy weekend.
Toronto FC vs. New England Revolution — 8 p.m. ET Friday
The Revs spoiled TFC’s impressive unbeaten run just two weeks back but Toronto is back on track and once again looks like the best side in MLS. Jay Heaps and Co. will likely have a difficult time north of the border when these sides meet at BMO Field.
Houston Dynamo vs. FC Dallas — 9 p.m. ET Friday
The first rivalry matchup takes place down in Texas this weekend and few would’ve thought that Houston would be sitting above Dallas in the Western Conference standings to this point. Led by goalscorer Erick “Cubo” Torres and his 10 finishes this season, the Dynamo have been one of the most potent attacks in MLS in 2017. Dallas’ backline has been a stalwart though through 15 matches, with the club only allowing 14 goals (second-fewest in MLS).
New York Red Bulls vs. New York City FC — 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday
NYCFC has undoubtedly been the better of the two sides as the MLS season nears the halfway point, but to say this rivalry has been one sided in its now third year is an understatement. The Red Bulls have won seven of their eight matchups against their Bronx foes across all competitions, including last week’s U.S. Open Cup win at Red Bull Arena. Patrick Vieira and Co. will be seeking their first win at RBA on Saturday, while also attempting to create some separation from the Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference table.
Atlanta United vs. Colorado Rapids — 7 p.m. ET Saturday
This matchup is a tale of two very different teams. Atlanta continues to bounce up and down in its debut season, although largely impressing in the attacking third in many of its matches. Meanwhile, the Rapids are struck at the bottom of MLS on 16 points, and there’s little sign of improvement from Pablo Mastroeni’s group.
Philadelphia Union vs. D.C. United — 7 p.m. ET Saturday
Something has to give when these two clubs meet. D.C. is coming off of a nice home win against Atlanta, so advantage to Ben Olson’s group despite the club’s poor goalscoring form. The ninth-place side has just 12 goals this season, which is three less than the next worst team in MLS.
Columbus Crew vs. Montreal Impact — 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday
The Crew have reverted to their defensive tendencies from a season ago, allowing the most goals in the Eastern Conference so far (29). The Impact, however, are finally finding their groove after going unbeaten in their last four.
Minnesota United vs. Vancouver Whitecaps — 8 p.m. ET Saturday
The Loons have had a rough go of it so far in MLS, but the good news is the club is certainly improving. Wednesday’s performance against the Timbers was a real bright spot in the team’s inaugural season, and now they can look to follow up that effort with their second consecutive win, which Minnesota hasn’t done in 2017. Vancouver has shown its own improvements recently, going unbeaten in five of its last seven matches.
Chicago Fire vs. Orlando City — 8:30 p.m. ET Saturday
When these two sides met a few weeks ago, all we had was an uneventful 0-0 draw. Expect something much different this time around, particularly from the Fire, who have built up a full head of steam as they enter Saturday’s contest unbeaten in their last eight matches.
LA Galaxy vs. Sporting KC — 10:30 p.m. ET Saturday
This has the makings of a quality playoff matchup down the road, especially given the Galaxy’s resurgence as of late. Like the Fire, the Galaxy have their own eight-match unbeaten run to boast and it has propelled them up to fifth place in the West. Sporting KC continues to run the Western Conference with 27 points and a stingy backline that has only conceded 11 goals in 17 matches. That’s pretty unheard of stuff.
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Real Salt Lake — 10:30 p.m. ET Saturday
Neither side has managed to find a rhythm this season, but with seven teams separated by six points in the Western Conference playoff race it’s a match like this that holds extra weight.
Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders — 10 p.m. ET Sunday
The Cascadia battles have become some of the best in MLS, and while the Sounders are still struggling to find their form from a season ago this one has all the makings of another massive clash. Neither side enters Sunday’s matchup in the finest form, but there’s nothing that could be more beneficial for either club than a rivalry victory.Follow @MattReedFutbol