Week 2 of the 2015 Major League Soccer season kicks off Friday night, as the Houston Dynamo host Orlando City SC (more on that game in a bit) at BBVA Compass Stadium, and finishes up with the defending champions visiting Providence Park to face the Portland Timbers (again, more on that in a bit).
[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS previews for 2015 ]
If you’re to watch just five games this weekend — not that you’re limited to five, of course — might I recommend the following five:
Portland Timbers vs. LA Galaxy (Sunday, 7 pm ET, Fox Sports 1)
Caleb Porter vs. Bruce Arena — of all the head coaches in MLS, perhaps no two have the personality and bravado of the young grasshopper (Porter) and old master (Arena). Pervious matchups between the two have given us timeless gems like this beauty.
On the field, the Galaxy are somewhat in transition after last year’s MLS Cup triumph and Landon Donovan’s retirement. They labored to a 2-0 victory over Chicago on opening night, but never, ever looked like losing. Meanwhile, Darlington Nagbe impressed as the Timbers’s attacking focal point in a 0-0 draw with Real Salt Lake last weekend. How Juninho tracks Nagbe’s varying positions and runs will be a telling battle on one end, while Robbie Keane looks to drop into midfield and exploit a unit missing Will Johnson (broken leg) and a questionable Diego Chara (calf).
Prediction: Timbers 1-1 Galaxy
Columbus Crew SC vs. Toronto FC (Saturday, 7:30 pm ET, MLS Live)
If there’s one game this weekend that has the potential to turn into a shootout, it’s this one. For starters, TFC put three past Vancouver last week, away from home. Also, there’s the matter of Crew SC midfielder Tony Tchani being suspended for this game, which leaves a massive hole in front of the Crew defense. Think Sebastian Giovinco and Michael Bradley might try to exploit that? Yeah, probably.
The Crew could have/should have put three or four past Houston last week (also away from home), so they’ll have their fair share of chances as well.
Prediction: Crew SC 2-2 TFC
FC Dallas vs. Sporting Kansas City (Saturday, 8:30 pm ET, MLS Live)
A pair of sides with frightening attacking units and solid-to-good defenses, but still trying to figure things out in the midfield. Balance is important, as always, and while FCD and Sporting KC work to figure that one out, we’ll enjoy a wide open game with plenty of chances each way.
While Benny Feilhaber and Roger Espinoza figure out how to coexist in the same midfield, Mauro Diaz seems a safe bet to have a huge game pulling the strings for FCD, providing plenty of chances for Blas Perez and Fabian Castillo.
Prediction: FCD 2-1 Sporting KC
Houston Dynamo vs. Orlando City SC (Friday, 7 pm ET, UniMas)
This one is sure to be a cagey affair as both sides struggled to create chances in Week 1, but a single goal opens the game up for both teams. Owen Coyle may be the man in charge these days, but the gameplan is still very much the same for Houston: attack down the flanks.
How Brek Shea, who’s played only a handful of games at left back, deals with Boniek Garcia will be a deciding factor. On the other hand, Boniek will have his hands full, protecting Kofi Sarkodie, as Shea surges forward time and again.
Prediction: Dynamo 1-0 Orlando
Seattle Sounders vs. San Jose Earthquakes (Saturday, 10 pm ET, MLS Live)
The Earthquakes deserved something from their 1-0 loss to FCD last week. They really did. They were the better team for 92 minutes, looked extremely organized in defense and broke quickly on the counter. That’s the hallmark of a Dom Kinnear-coached team, and they’ll be much better this season for it.
Those components will be of the utmost importance this week as they hope to slow down the Sounders’ potent attack, which was in mid-season form in Week 1. And in that endeavor, good luck to them.
Prediction: Sounders 2-0 Earthquakes