Week 6 of the 2015 Major League Soccer season is upon us, and just like the first five weeks of the season, there’s a whole host of tantalizing matchups more than capable of entertaining all weekend long, including three rematches of 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs ties.
Predictions record through Week 5: 12-14 (Hey, MLS is the most unpredictable league in the world!)
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:
LA Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders (Sunday, 7 pm ET, Fox Sports 1)
No team in MLS is more in transition than the Galaxy. Until Steven Gerrard arrives in July, all Bruce Arena can hope to do is stockpile points and find the system that has a perfect Gerrard-sized hole that the then-35-year-old can fill as the defending champs attempt another run at MLS Cup.
Meanwhile, the Sounders are in win-now mode and need to be challenging for the Supporters’ Shield again this season. The return and reintegration of Osvaldo Alonso into the Sounders midfield solves every single problem the Rave Green faced in their first games of the season. Defensively sound again and building off Alonso’s underrated long-range passing game, not many teams can hang with Sigi Schmid’s when they’re at their best.
Prediction: Galaxy 2-2 Sounders
New England Revolution vs. Columbus Crew SC (Saturday, 3 pm ET, MLS Live)
When asked this week whether or not last year’s playoff thrashing at the hands of the Revs was on his players’ minds, Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter said he hoped so, because it was definitely on his mind.
I know it’s only Week 6 of the regular season, but for 90 minutes on Saturday, this is going to feel like a playoff game. Expect to see some really good, chippy, end-to-end soccer. Don’t be surprised if Crew SC runs out of gas in the second half at the tail end of their monstrosity of a road trip from Columbus to Vancouver to Boston in the span of four days. But hey, at least they had random bye weeks in Weeks 3 and 5 for no reason.
Prediction: Revs 2-1 Crew SC
D.C. United vs. New York Red Bulls (Saturday, 7 pm ET, MLS Live)
It’s not often that you get your first regular-season rematch this early in the season, but here we are three weeks after the Red Bulls’ 2-0 victory at Red Bull Arena on March 22. The bummer? Just one more meeting between these teams this year, and it’s not until the very end of August.
In that Week 3 game, Bradley Wright-Phillips was the Red Bulls’ everything — creator, goalscorer and savior. Since then, United have given up zero goals in two games, earning a pair of 1-0 victories (vs. Galaxy, at Orlando City) and, despite having not played particularly well even once this season, moved into the East’s top spot.
Prediction: D.C. United 1-0 Red Bulls
Sporting Kansas City vs. Real Salt Lake (Saturday, 8:30 pm ET, MLS Live)
Forget the fact that this is a rematch of the 2013 MLS Cup final — these two teams flat out don’t like each other. Throw in the fact they’re both likely to be hovering somewhere in that five-to-seven range in the West this season (six teams make the playoffs in each conference), and the three points on the line Saturday night suddenly become a little more important.
Both teams find themselves currently in transition, both personnel-wise and stylistically — Sporting are trying to get away from the high-pressure 4-3-3 in the name of defensive stability, while RSL have dropped the 4-4-2 and diamond midfield for the balance of the 4-3-3. As is always the case with veteran teams making drastic changes, they’re struggling to adjust and far from the finished products they hope to be in October.
Prediction: Sporting KC 1-1 RSL
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (Saturday, 10:30 pm ET, MLS Live)
As good as the Whitecaps are at home, in theory they should be even better on the road, where teams won’t shy away and bunker so radically, if at all. Again, in theory, that increases tenfold the counter-attacking lanes through which Pedro Morales can shred opposing midfields and defenses.
While Crew SC drew the double-away, cross-country-and-back double-game-week schedule, the ‘Caps get a much kinder second leg this week, with a short trip down to Northern California. Dominic Kinnear has to allocate a constant man-marker to Morales, or he’ll simply pick apart the ‘Quakes defense all day long.
Prediction: ‘Quakes 1-2 Whitecaps