Week 24 of the 2015 Major League Soccer season is upon us (where, oh where, have our lives gone?), and with it comes the prospect of three potential — if not highly likely — future matchups in the 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs.
So, if you’re to watch just three MLS games this weekend — who am I to tell you to watch only three games? — might I suggest the following three:
FC Dallas vs. LA Galaxy (Saturday, 9 pm ET, MLS Live)
Quick: name a team in MLS with more wins over their last six games played than FCD or the Galaxy. That’s a trick question, because there isn’t one. FCD’s recent five-game winning streak (snapped last week in Chicago) and LA’s four wins sandwiched around a loss make these two of the hottest teams in the league (the Red Bulls and Sporting Kansas City have also won four of their last six).
Giovani dos Santos and Steven Gerrard are settling into the Galaxy fold quickly, though road games always prove an entirely different beast in MLS. Meanwhile, the youthful of Fabian Castillo, Mauro Diaz, Matt Hedges, Kellyn Acosta and Victor Ulloa has FCD (38 points) squarely in the Supporters’ Shield race, just six back of D.C. United but with four games in hand.
Prediction: FCD 0-1 Galaxy
New York Red Bulls vs. Toronto FC (Saturday, 7 pm ET, MLS Live)
Speaking of a side with serious momentum, the Red Bulls come into Saturday’s showdown with TFC — one that many, myself included, believe will have home-field advantage implications before all is said and done — not only unbeaten in five straight, but perhaps fresh off their most resounding performance of the season in a 2-0 defeat of New York City FC last weekend.
Bradley Wright-Phillips is back amongst the goals (five scored and two assisted in RBNY’s last seven games), while Matt Miazga continues to develop and thrive as the 20-year-old defensive focal point. Coming up against TFC means but one thing, though: Sebastian Giovinco. Through 22 games played, the Italian has 16 goals and 11 assists to his name as he continues to show better and better and better for the Reds each and every week. Dax McCarty will have his hands full with the TFC midfield in this one (Michael Bradley’s still around, too).
Prediction: Red Bulls 2-1 TFC
Sporting Kansas City vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (Saturday, 9 pm ET, MLS Live)
Quick: name a team in MLS with a higher points per game average than Sporting KC (1.76) or the Whitecaps (1.75). That’s another trick question, because there isn’t one. These two sides locked horns just a month ago and Sporting grabbed an impressive away victory at BC Place. This one’s at Sporting Park where Peter Vermes’ said is yet to lose in 2015 (all competitions).
Fun fact: Vancouver’s 23 road points are far and away (seven more than the next team) the most won by any team this year. Strength vs. strength. Perhaps no team in MLS is scarier in the open field — Kekuta Manneh, Pedro Morales, Cristian Techera and Darren Mattocks, anyone? Perhaps no team in MLS is better at controlling the game’s tempo and limiting counter-attacking chances. Strength vs. strength. I feel extremely lucky knowing that I’ll be in attendance for this one.
Prediction: SKC 1-1 Whitecaps