Week 3 of the 2015 Major League Soccer season kicks off Friday night, as the Philadelphia Union welcome FC Dallas, the only two-win team in the league, to PPL Park, and finishes with the inaugural game at Avaya Stadium, as the San Jose Earthquakes host the Chicago Fire.
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:
New York Red Bulls vs. D.C. United (Sunday, 5 pm ET, ESPN2)
Why does everyone continue to underrate and not talk about D.C. United when trying to forecast this year’s Eastern Conference? OK, so what if they’re not an exciting team and they don’t play sexy soccer — they’re efficient, hardworking, well-drilled and will finish among the East’s top two again this year.
They’re the exact kind of team who will give the Red Bulls all sorts of fits, given the defensive midfield duo of Davy Arnaud and Perry Kitchen. All that space in front of the Sporting KC backline that Lloyd Sam and Felipe were able to exploit? It won’t be there in this one, and Bradley Wright-Phillips will be stranded on an island once again.
Prediction: Red Bulls 1-3 D.C. United
Sporting Kansas City vs. Portland Timbers (Saturday, 8:30 pm ET, MLS Live)
This game is going to be played at a million miles per hour. Portland are all speed up and down the wings, given long-term injuries to Diego Valeri and Will Johnson, and Sporting KC don’t know what system they’re playing from week to week, or who’s playing where.
This one could easily be 4-4 with all goals coming on the counter attack, but poor finishing will make it a tad more frustrating and less enjoyable.
Prediction: Sporting KC 1-1 Timbers
Orlando City SC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (Saturday, 7:30 pm ET, MLS Live)
No one squanders more chances than the Whitecaps, but that’s OK because they create an unreal amount (18 on the road last week). Orlando City have limited opponents to just 7.5 shots per game through two games.
Advantage to the team who plays the lower-tempo game and doesn’t have to fly
Prediction: Orlando City 2-1 Whitecaps
Philadelphia Union vs. FC Dallas (Friday, 7 pm ET, UniMas)
FC Dallas have been dominant thus far in 2015, but they’ve not yet played away from home, and that’s always a big deal in MLS. They’re a terror when playing from a winning position and the Union weren’t exactly defense-first in last week’s 3-3 draw with Real Salt Lake, so they’ll have their chances.
Finally freeing up Mauro Diaz in the middle of the field, where Maurice Edu roams, could mean a ton of chances for Oscar Pareja’s side.
Prediction: Union 2-2 FCD
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Chicago Fire (Sunday, 7 pm ET, Fox Sports 1)
The aforementioned inaugural game at Avaya Stadium is reason enough to tune in to this one, but the ‘Quakes are going to be recommended viewing for much of the season, for two reasons: 1) They’re a much better team this year — organized and full of talent, and 2) Someone is bound to upset the applecart in the loaded Western Conference, and my money is on them.
The Fire are shambolic, making them the perfect opponent for any team’s stadium grand opening.
Prediction: Quakes 3-1 Fire