Week 13 of the 2015 Major League Soccer season is upon us, and once again the weekend’s slate of games is full of potential playoff matchups, MLS Cup rematches and early-season do-or-die, statement opportunities.
If you’re to watch just four MLS games this weekend — who am I to tell you to watch only four games? — might I suggest the following four:
Sporting Kansas City vs. FC Dallas (Friday, 9 pm ET, UniMas)
These teams met during Week 2 of the season, and it ended 3-1 in Frisco. Not only will Sporting KC (18 points) have revenge on their mind, but they carry the confidence of winning four points in three days against the Revolution and Sounders just last week. Still crippled by injuries, Peter Vermes’ side is rounding into form and turning around their woeful home form of recent years.
SKC vs. FC Dallas (21 points) certainly has goals in it, given Sporting’s weak right side of defense — can you say, Fabian Castillo and Mauro Diaz? Uh oh — and the season-long form of Benny Feilhaber (league-leading 7 assists). Soni Mustivar has looked fine enough as Sporting’s stop-gap defensive midfielder, but Diaz can make the very best midfield stoppers look bad on their good days.
Prediction: Sporting KC 2-2 FCD
New England Revolution vs. LA Galaxy (Sunday, 7 pm ET, Fox Sports 1)
Speaking of revenge, you think the Revs (20 points) remember who broke their hearts in the MLS Cup final six short months ago? I’m going to go ahead and guess they do. But will it matter? Jay Heaps’ side hasn’t won since the second day of May (3 draws, 1 loss) having dealt with injury problems of their own, which briefly necessitated the Jermaine-Jones-at-center-back experience to persist.
Meanwhile, the Galaxy continue to string points together despite the relative absence of Robbie Keane and complete lack of a creative bone in their collective body. Keane could make his return to the starting lineup in this one, but for how long can he play at an MVP level right away?
Prediction: Revolution 2-0 Galaxy
Seattle Sounders vs. New York Red Bulls (Sunday 5 pm ET, ESPN2)
First things first, Obafemi Martins is back, which means the Sounders are infinitely more fun to watch (not that they’re dreadful television without him). Roy Miller, of all people, started at center back for the Red Bulls last week due to injuries. If that persists this week, look for Martins and Clint Dempsey to have a heyday. Who doesn’t love seeing that?
On the other hand, Sporting KC showed last week that packing numbers behind the ball and keeping everything in front of the midfield and defense is a really good way of slowing down and frustrating the Sounders. I don’t know if Jesse Marsch has a gameplan that cynical in him, but he’d be wise to play this one at close to a snail’s pace.
Prediction: Sounders 2-1 Red Bulls
Chicago Fire vs. Montreal Impact (Saturday, 8:30 pm ET, MLS Live)
“Really, Andy? Really? You want me to watch the Fire and Impact?” I know that’s exactly what went through your mind as you read the above line. But trust me, it’s going to be a really good game. The Impact (8 points – 6 from their last two games) are no longer a CONCACAF barnstorming team incapable of winning in MLS play.
Ignacio Piatti, Dilly Duka and Andres Romero provide a strong attacking base upon which Jack McInerney, who needs to start every game from now on, can do what he does best: score goals. Callum Mallace and Marco Donadel is a weirdly good deep-lying midfield pairing, and the defense has really improved since the arrival of Ambroise Oyongo. The Impact are a real team, and they’re going to beat the Fire in entertaining fashion Saturday night.
Prediction: Fire 1-2 Impact