With six weeks in the books, we’re finally really into the rhythm of the 2017 MLS season.
The early season rust has worn off, teams are starting to figure out how they want to play and a few clubs are beginning to emerge from the pack. There’s a bit more clarity heading into Week 7, and plenty of interesting storylines, to boot.
Here are a few narratives I’ll have my eye as this weekend continues:
Montreal Impact vs. Atlanta United FC
Saturday, 1 pm ET | CTV, TVA Sports in Canada, MLS LIVE in the US
After opening the season with four of their first five on the road, Montreal will finally return home on Saturday, when they’ll open the 2017 Stade Saputo slate against high-flying Atlanta United FC. Thanks to that schedule, things probably aren’t as bad as they look for Montreal, who are 0-2-3 on the year and lost 2-0 at LA in their last match. Still, they need to take advantage of their upcoming rash of home games, and beating Atlanta would be a great way to start their run of five home matches in seven games.
Atlanta, on the other hand, will be looking to continue what’s been an excellent road trip. The expansion club drew at Seattle and at Toronto in the first two games of their four-match trip, which will conclude next week at RSL. They won’t have Yamil Asad due to a red card suspension at Montreal – we’ll see if their attacking firepower takes a hit.
Orlando City vs. LA Galaxy
Saturday, 2:30 pm ET | FOX, FOX Deportes in the US, MLS LIVE in Canada
Orlando will look to continue their somewhat surprising start to the year in one of the biggest matches of the early season on Saturday, when they welcome the LA Galaxy to Orlando City Stadium. The Lions are a perfect 3-0-0 in front of The Wall this year, and will need to continue their dominant home form if they want to make the playoffs for the first time in club history in 2017. LA rebounded last week after a bit of a rough start, beating Montreal 2-0 at home to improve to 2-3-0 on the year. Better still for the Galaxy, new Designated Player Romain Alessandrini looks like he’s hitting his stride – we’ll see if he can keep it up in Florida.
Chicago Fire vs. New England Revolution
Saturday, 5 pm ET | MLS LIVE
Bastian Schweinsteiger and the Fire will look to make it three results in three matches since the German joined in Chicago when they host New England on Saturday. The Fire are much improved this year, currently sitting in fourth in the East with a 2-1-2 record. With a three-game road trip to Toronto, New York and LA looming, they’ll look to keep the home shine going for another week against the Revs, who are 2-0-1 in their last three but 0-2-1 on the road this season.
New York Red Bulls vs. D.C. United
Saturday, 7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE
Another year, another slow start for Jesse Marsch and the Red Bulls. After winning their first two matches of the season, New York are winless in their last four, posting a 0-3-1 record in that stretch and losing their last two matches. The 4-2-2-2 still isn’t clicking, and they’re running into a rival D.C. team that seems to have figured things out a bit, winning their last two matches after starting the year with a three game winless skid.
Columbus Crew SC vs. Toronto FC
Saturday, 8 pm ET | TSN in Canada, MLS LIVE in the US
Toronto are unbeaten through their first five, but things aren’t entirely rosy with the Reds. TFC have drawn four of their five contests this year, including both of their home matches, a scoreless draw against SKC on March 31 and a 2-2 tie against Atlanta last weekend. Sebastian Giovinco hasn’t quite hit the heights we’re accustomed to, a big part of the reason why Toronto aren’t firing on all cylinders. Columbus have had a bit of a weird year, looking flat in their opening two matches, ripping off three straight wins, then falling 1-0 at Chicago last weekend. Justin Meram has been their most consistent piece – if Crew SC get a result at BMO, he’ll likely play a big role.
Houston Dynamo vs. Minnesota United FC
Saturday, 8:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE
Houston have been dynamite at home this year, posting a perfect 3-0-0 record and outscoring their opponents 9-3 at BBVA Compass Stadium. That doesn’t exactly bode well for Minnesota, who are 0-3-1 and have given up 14 goals in four matches on the road this year. They did look better last week with new acquisitions Sam Cronin and Marc Burch on board in a 2-0 loss at FC Dallas, but it’ll be a tall order for the Loons to get a result from the second leg of their Texas two-step.
Colorado Rapids vs. Real Salt Lake
Saturday, 9 pm ET | MLS LIVE
As new head coach Mike Petke noted on Tuesday, Real Salt Lake’s 3-0 win against Vancouver on Saturday – their first of the year – doesn’t mean that the team is all of a sudden a phenomenal force, but it was a step in the right direction for Salt Lake. Another positive? Albert Rusnak’s emergence. The new DP scored his first RSL goal and notched two assists in the win against the ‘Caps. If he can put in another solid showing on Saturday at Colorado (who lost 3-1 at SKC in their first match sans Cronin and Burch), RSL will have a solid shot at a result in the first Rocky Mountain Cup match of the year.
Portland Timbers vs. Sporting Kansas City
Saturday, 10:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE
The last match of Week 7 should be one of its best, with the first-place Portland Timbers set to welcome Sporting Kansas City to Providence Park for a Saturday nightcap. Both teams had impressive wins last weekend, with the Timbers dispatching the Union 3-1 in Philadelphia on Saturday and SKC handling Colorado 3-1 at home on Sunday. The win against the Rapids marked a bit of a coming out party for the Kansas City attack, which had only scored two goals in four games prior to the win over Colorado. With Benny Feilhaber potentially set to return to the lineup at Portland, SKC will look to make it two-straight strong attacking outings on Saturday.