Lone unbeatens face off, Kreis returns to NYC: Top storylines for Week 8

Ike Opara - Sporting KC - makes a play on the ball as Cristian Colman looks on

After seven weeks exclusively featuring weekend contests, the first midweek match of the regular season is here! New England and San Jose will face off on Wednesday in the opening midweek contest of 2017 (remember to set , the first in a full slate of 12 matches this week. 

Here are a few storylines from every match that I'll have my eye on:

New England Revolution vs. D.C. United

Saturday, 7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE

Two teams who figure to be battling for one of the final playoff spots in the East at the end of the year will face off on Saturday night, as the Revs will welcome D.C. to Gillette Stadium. It should be a great opportunity for United to steal some road points. New England will be playing their third match of the week, with Jay Heaps likely to rotate his squad a bit after losing at Chicago last Saturday and hosting San Jose on Wednesday night. We’ll see if Ben Olsen’s group can take advantage of some tired Revs legs.

New York Red Bulls vs. Columbus Crew SC

Saturday, 7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE

After struggling at the start of the season in a 4-2-2-2, the Red Bulls recently switched back to the 4-2-3-1 formation that’s brought them so much success in recent years, and it’s already started paying dividends. After looking good but losing a close 1-0 contest at Orlando, New York notched their first win in five games last Saturday, downing D.C. 2-0 at home. They’ll look to continue that streak against Columbus, perhaps the most classic 4-2-3-1 team in all of MLS. Crew SC are red-hot, with Justin Meram and Ola Kamara firing on all cylinders to lead Columbus to four wins in their last five games.

FC Dallas vs. Sporting Kansas City

Saturday, 8:00 pm ET | MLS LIVE

In what’s perhaps the best match of the entire week, MLS’s remaining two unbeatens will meet up at Toyota Stadium with a shot at Western Conference supremacy on Saturday night. FC Dallas and Sporting KC have ridden similar formulas to their early-season success, emerging with points in low-scoring, defensive contests, including a scoreless draw in Kansas City back in March. Keep an eye on how Dallas’ Matt Hedges, Walker Zimmerman and Carlos Gruezo handle Dom Dwyer, Gerso Fernandes, Benny Feilhaber and the SKC attack, which seems like it’s finally starting to get into gear.

Real Salt Lake vs. Atlanta United FC

Saturday, 9:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE

The Mike Petke era is off to a perfect start for Real Salt Lake – will it continue against an Atlanta team finishing out a four-game road trip? RSL have won both of Petke’s first two matches in charge, topping Vancouver 3-0 in the snow on April 8 before winning 2-1 at Colorado last week. Nineteen-year-old Brooks Lennon keyed that victory, but he won’t be the only young gun at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday. Miguel Almiron, Hector Villalba and Yamil Asad are all likely starters for Atlanta, who drew at Seattle and at Toronto before giving up a late, late goal after playing down a man for the entire second half to lose 2-1 at Montreal last week.

New York City FC vs. Orlando City SC

Sunday, 1:30 pm ET | FS1 in the US, MLS LIVE in Canada

Roughly 18 months after NYCFC gave him a quick axe following the 2015 season, Jason Kreis will make his return to Yankee Stadium on Sunday. The Orlando City SC head coach is flying high, with his Lions boasting the best points per game mark (2.4 PPG) in all of MLS. They’ve made all of their hay at home, however, posting a perfect 4-0-0 record in Florida while losing their one away match. New York, who lost at Orlando in the season opener, have been solid in the Bronx, posting a 2-0-1 record at home and winning convincingly on the road in their last match, a 2-0 victory at Philadelphia.

LA Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders

Sunday, 4:00 pm ET | ESPN in the US, MLS LIVE in Canada

Two of the biggest clubs in the league will face off in Southern California on Sunday, with both badly in need of a win. The Sounders and the Galaxy have struggled to start the year, with LA dropping to 2-4-0 on the season after last week’s loss at Orlando and Seattle’s winless streak extending to three games after falling at Vancouver last Friday night. We’ll see if Nicolas Lodeiro, Clint Dempsey and Co. can get clicking against an LA midfield pairing of Jermaine Jones and Joao Pedro that has looked rough this year.

Minnesota United FC vs. Colorado Rapids

Sunday, 6:00 pm ET | MLS LIVE

Just three weeks after they were sent from Colorado to Minnesota, Sam Cronin and Marc Burch will get to face their former squad on Sunday, with the struggling Rapids heading to the Twin Cities to take on the resurgent Loons. After conceding 18 goals in their first four games of the year, Minnesota have tightened things up in the back, giving up six goals in their last three games, two of which were at high-flying Dallas and Houston. Cronin and Burch have played a major role in that turnaround, and they’ll be looking to blank the Rapids – whom the Loons drew 2-2 in Colorado on March 18 – in their first home match in Minnesota. 

New England Revolution vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Wednesday, 7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE

The first midweek match of the 2017 regular season is upon us, with New England set to host San Jose at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday night. The Revs are just 2-3-1 on the season, but their record belies their home form. New England are perfect in Foxborough this year, throttling Minnesota 5-2 and downing Houston 2-0 to start 2-0-0 at home. It’s been a different story for the Quakes on the road, with both of San Jose’s losses this year coming in their two road matches. We’ll see if those trends hold.

Update: The Quakes were able to stop the bleeding on the road, playing the Revs to a 0-0 draw on a rainy night in New England.