MLS at Week 18: Dallas hosts red-hot Toronto, Cali Clasico and more


MLS Rivalry Week may have officially taken place last weekend, but one of the league’s most-fierce battles will take shape on Saturday, while a cross-conference matchup pits two of the top sides against another.

All eyes will be on Avaya Stadium on Saturday night when the San Jose Earthquakes host California rivals LA Galaxy as both clubs currently sit in playoff positions out west.

Meanwhile, league-leading Toronto FC will travel down to Dallas to face Oscar Pareja’s group.

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Here’s a look at this weekend’s full slate of matches around MLS.

Real Salt Lake vs. Orlando City — 9:30 p.m. ET on Friday

A battle between two of the league’s most-struggling sides takes shape at Rio Tinto as RSL and Orlando desperately seek a win. The Lions enter Friday’s contest having won just one of their last 11 matches, the worst record in that span of any MLS side.

Chicago Fire vs. Vancouver Whitecaps — 7 p.m. ET on Saturday

Is there anybody hotter than the Chicago Fire right now? Simply, no. Veljko Paunovic is an early leader for Coach of the Year after leading his side from dead last in the East a season ago to within a point of Toronto FC. The Whitecaps — on the other hand — are starting to find their groove as well after picking up a three-match unbeaten run heading into the weekend.

FC Dallas vs. Toronto FC — 7 p.m. ET on Saturday

In the biggest clash of the weekend we’re served with two of the leagues top sides. Greg Vanney’s men have lost just two matches all season, including a current run of 10 unbeaten in their last 11. Meanwhile, Dallas has hit a bit of a bump in the road after racking up just one league win since May 20. Both sides boast potent attacks, but don’t expect goals galore as Dallas and Toronto are tied for the second-fewest goals allowed in MLS.

Sporting KC vs. Portland Timbers — 7 p.m. ET on Saturday

This one has the makings of a Western Conference final, and it could surely be the case come playoff time. Sporting’s backline continues to shine after allowing just 12 goals thus far through 18 matches, an astounding statistic. The Timbers are hovering at .500 in league play, and with the team struggling to find wins over recent weeks, a win at Children’s Mercy Park would be exactly what the doctor prescribed for Caleb Porter and Co.

Montreal Impact vs. D.C. United — 7 p.m. ET on Saturday

Although these two sides sit at the bottom of the East on 18 points, a win on Saturday could put one of them within three points of the sixth spot. That just shows how clogged the Eastern Conference playoff race is going to be.

Columbus Crew vs. Atlanta United — 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday

See the above match. With the Crew and Atlanta currently in a battle for a playoff position, this is the type of match both would seriously benefit taking three points from, particularly Tata Martino’s men.

Colorado Rapids vs. Houston Dynamo — 9 p.m. ET on Saturday

As bad as the Rapids have played this season, they still have two games in hand compared to most of the league, which could prove to be all the difference. Back-to-back losses halted the club’s momentum, and a visit from the Dynamo certainly isn’t a walk in the park.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. LA Galaxy — 10:30 p.m. ET on Saturday

Ah, another Cali Clasico is upon us. The last five times these two sides have met are about as even as you’d expect a rivalry to be, with the Galaxy taking home two wins, the Quakes picking up one of their own and a pair of 1-1 draws to show. With both clubs fighting for another step in the right direction towards the postseason, this match means a lot to the fierce rivals.

Philadelphia Union vs. New England Revolution — 5 p.m. ET on Sunday

A heartbreaking Open Cup loss is fresh on the minds of the Union, but Jim Curtin’s group will have to turn around quickly in order to get ready for the Revolution — who are losers of two straight against Toronto and Chicago.

Already completed

New York City FC 3-1 Minnesota United (MLS Snapshot)