From Orlando to Vancouver, storylines abound in the third week of the 2017 MLS season.
Yeah, the year is still young, but we’ve now gotten a couple of looks at nearly every team in the league. Identities are starting to be formed, expectations are heightening for some clubs, and the pressure is rising at others.
Here’s what you should look out for in Week 3:
New York City FC vs. Montreal Impact
Saturday, 2 pm ET | TVA Sports in Canada, MLS LIVE in the US
After an opening weekend loss at Orlando, New York City FC rebounded in a big way last weekend, smashing D.C. United4-0 last Sunday in their home opener at Yankee Stadium. Reigning MVP David Villa and recently-acquired Designated PlayerMaxi Moralez starred for NYCFC, who also got a solid contribution from offseason signing defensive midfielder Alexander Ring.
Things didn’t go quite as smoothly for Montreal, who gave up a pair of late goals – including one just seconds before the final whistle – to draw 2-2 at home against Seattle last Saturday. Expect the Impact to sit deep and counter through Ignacio Piatti and Dom Oduro on Saturday, while NYCFC will look to take the initiative through Villa, Moralez, Rodney Wallace and Jack Harrison.
Atlanta United FC vs. Chicago Fire
Saturday, 4 pm ET | Facebook, UniMás in the US, MLS LIVE in Canada
Atlanta picked up what will likely be one of the results of the season in their last match, getting a hat trick from Josef Martinez and a two goals and assist from Miguel Almiron to smash expansion partner Minnesota United FC6-1 in snowy Minneapolis on Sunday. Chicago also tallied their first win of the season last weekend, taking advantage of a couple of fortunate bounces and holding firm in the back to down RSL2-0 at Toyota Park. Both teams are still coming together after active (and widely-praised) winters, so Saturday’s match should be a solid litmus test for the pair of potential playoff contenders.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Toronto FC
Saturday, 4 pm ET | CTV in Canada, MLS LIVE in the US
Vancouver will undoubtedly be a bit drained following their 2-0 loss at Tigres in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League semifinal series on Tuesday night, but the Whitecaps don’t have any time to relax with their Canadian rivals coming to town. Vancouver coughed up an early 2-0 lead to fall 3-2 at San Jose last Saturday, with goalkeeper David Ousted’s 23rd minute red card serving as a turning point. The backstop will be out against Toronto, who will be without star Sebastian Giovinco, who suffered a leg injury in TFC’s 2-2 draw at Philadelphia last weekend.
D.C. United vs. Columbus Crew SC
Saturday, 7 pm ET | MLS LIVE
Both teams enter Saturday’s match licking their wounds. D.C. will return home after that 4-0 loss at NYCFC, while Columbus heads to RFK after a 3-1 loss at Houston that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. Though they’re each 0-1-1 this year, Crew SC will likely be feeling a little extra anxiety, as they look to avoid a repeat of the slow start that doomed them in 2016. If they’re to get a result at D.C., they’ll have to do it without Designated Player center back Jonathan Mensah, who was shown a red card at Houston and will be suspended on Saturday.
Orlando City SC vs. Philadelphia Union
Saturday, 7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE
After a week off following the postponement of their match at New England last weekend, Orlando will welcome Philadelphia to Central Florida for their second game of the season. The Lions will be looking to build on their season-opening 1-0 win against NYCFC, while the Union are looking for their first win after starting the season with a scoreless draw at Vancouver and a 2-2 home tie against Toronto last week. Philly could be without offseason signing striker Jay Simpson, who left last week’s match against TFC due to a rib injury seconds after scoring his first MLS goal.
FC Dallas vs. New England Revolution
Saturday, 8 pm ET | MLS LIVE
Like Orlando, New England had last week off and will be playing just their second match of the young season this weekend. The Revs, who dropped their opener 1-0 at Colorado, are raring to go, but they’ll face another tough test in FC Dallas. Oscar Pareja’s side are one of the top teams in MLS, though they will potentially be playing some reserves after their starters get full run in Leg 1 of their CCL semifinal series against Pachuca at Toyota Stadium on Wednesday night. Watch out on Saturday for New England playmaker and Dallas-area native Lee Nguyen, who is back to full health after leaving the Revs’ opener due to injury.
Sporting Kansas City vs. San Jose Earthquakes
Saturday, 8:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE
Sporting Kansas City say they’re not worried about not scoring in either of their first two matches, but a third-straight goalless outing would be serious cause for concern at Children’s Mercy Park. They’ll look to avoid that against a San Jose Earthquakes team that has looked sharp in their two wins to start the year, but will be playing their first road match of the season on Saturday. As always, keep an eye on Quakes midfielder Anibal Godoy – who has been excellent in 2017 – in this one.
Colorado Rapids vs. Minnesota United FC
Saturday, 9 pm ET | MLS LIVE
Minnesota won’t be able to ease back into action following their 6-1 home loss to Atlanta last weekend, as they’ll head west to Denver to take on a tough Rapids team. Colorado were excellent at home last year, posting an unbeaten 11-0-6 regular season record at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in 2016. They’re off to a 1-0-0 start at home this year, and will be looking to bounce back from last Saturday’s defeat at the New York Red Bulls against the Loons.
Real Salt Lake vs. LA Galaxy
Saturday, 9:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE
A pair of longtime Western Conference powers enter this match in some early-season turmoil. LA have gotten the Curt Onalfo era off to a poor start, dropping two home matches to Western Conference rivals in the opening two weeks of the season. RSL held Toronto to a scoreless draw at home in the opener, but a 2-0 loss last weekend at Chicago will leave a bitter taste in their mouths. Whichever team is able to manage key absences better – LA will be without suspended captain Jelle Van Damme and look like they’ll be missing Gio dos Santos to injury, while RSL’s Justen Glad, Aaron Maund, Joao Plata, Chris Schuler and Jordan Allen are all dealing with ailments – should be able to pull out a result on Saturday.
Portland Timbers vs. Houston Dynamo
Saturday, 10:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE
Houston have done it at home – now, can the new-look Dynamo continue their hot run when playing at one of the top teams in the league? They’ll have their chance on Saturday, when they’ll look to move to 3-0-0 against the Portland Timbers, who are also perfect on the young season. This one should be a whole lot of fun, with Cubo Torres, Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto leading a revamped Dynamo attack against the high-flying Timbers.
Seattle Sounders vs. New York Red Bulls
Sunday, 7 pm ET | FS1 in the US, MLS LIVE in Canada
After opening the season with a pair of road matches, the Seattle Sounders will finally return home to celebrate their 2016 MLS Cup title with their fans on Sunday, when they’ll host the New York Red Bulls at CenturyLink Field. Pregame should be memorable, and the fireworks should continue during the game, with the Sounders looking for their first win of the year following a dramatic draw at Montreal and New York aiming to start 3-0-0 after beginning the season with wins at Atlanta and against Colorado.