Major League Soccer’s Week 3 preview: Surprising strugglers, Cali Clasico and more
Every team has a bad week and, given the unpredictable nature of Major League Soccer, most teams will experience back-to-back clunkers at some point in a season.
But three? Three usually leads to panic (at least a little).
Several teams with promising offseasons are scratching their heads after two weeks of MLS 2016. As Week 3 takes hold on Friday, which ones might have to worry if their struggles trend into a third week?
New York Red Bulls, Columbus Crew, Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps are all 0-2. All could remain winless after the weekend, though it’d be shocking if the first two fail to get at least a point from their matches.
Two of those teams square off, headlining our Week 3 preview.
Seattle Sounders vs. Vancouver Whitecaps -- 10 p.m. ET Saturday
Washington will be the venue for this pair of Cascadia Cup rivals, both hoping to halt tough runs to start the season. While the ‘Caps lost to 3-2 Montreal and 2-1 to Sporting KC, Seattle has scored just one goal in season-opening losses to KC and Real Salt Lake.
It’s been a bit of baptism by fire for Jordan Morris, who is shouldering more responsibility than expected after the departure of Obafemi Martins. He’s looked lively, but has yet to dent the score sheet.
As for Vancouver, they sent mercurial attacker Darren Mattocks packing this week and will hope that’s a bit of addition by subtraction. Both teams know a rivalry win could trigger the good vibes they so badly want to reclaim. The visiting team in this series went 3-0 last year. We’ll be watching to see if that improbable trend continues, or if Carl Robinson will be further vexed by his charges.
Los Angeles Galaxy vs. San Jose Earthquakes -- 10:30 p.m. ET Saturday
Get multiple screens ready, or at least your recording device, as the California Clasico takes its first strides in 2016. L.A. is smarting after a shocking road defeat to Colorado that set them back to 1-1, while Dominic Kinnear’s Quakes are feeling good with a 2-0 start to the season.
On paper, the Quakes will like their chances after beating the same Rapids team that topped the Galaxy last weekend, but not only does this match carry rivalry stakes, L.A.'s massive star and veteran qualities should have them raring to get back on the home -- or any -- pitch.
Prediction: Galaxy 2-1
Sporting KC vs. Toronto FC -- 7 p.m. ET Sunday
Through two weeks, this bad boy looks like an MLS Cup final preview. KC has beaten a pair of decent opponents in Seattle and Vancouver, while TFC cruised past New York Red Bulls before picking up a point at Yankee Stadium.
Both of those came without Jozy Altidore, and Toronto may have to live life without the big USMNT striker again this week (though he’s expected to be named to the U.S. roster for this month’s World Cup qualifiers).
TFC is again dealing with stadium expansion, and this is match three of an eight-match road swing to start the season. This one would have tough night written all over it in the past, but their veteran additions -- especially goalkeeper Clint Irwin -- could hold sway here.
New York City 2-1 Orlando City
Chicago Fire 0-2 Columbus Crew
New York Red Bulls 2-0 Houston Dynamo
FC Dallas 2-2 Montreal Impact
Portland Timbers 1-0 Real Salt Lake
Philadelphia Union 1-1 New England Revolution
DC United 3-1 Colorado Rapids