Soccer never stops, especially this summer around MLS and international games.
The U-20 World Cup marches on with the Gold Cup, Copa America and UEFA Nations League right around the corner, all while MLS continues to provide can't-miss matches. Wednesday is no different, with another slate of midweek soccer to kick off Week 14.
Let's dive in.
Minnesota aim to preserve Wonderwall in Atlanta
Atlanta United vs. Minnesota United | 7 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, DAZN in Canada
Minnesota United have shed their defensive inconsistency in recent weeks, posting back-to-back shutout wins. They formed a Wonderwall in front of goal, if you will. Loser game show sound
Still, they have kept four shutouts over their last six games. Not bad for a team that conceded 70+ goals in each of their first two seasons in MLS, just traded a Costa Rican international defender (Francisco Calvo) and haven't had Ike Opara in the starting lineup for the last two clean sheets.
The task will be vastly different in Atlanta than at Allianz Field, even if the Five Stripes are on a two-game losing streak. That creates all the more pressure for three points against the Loons.
Mike Petke's lineup choices
Montreal Impact vs. Real Salt Lake | 7:30 pm ET | TVAS in Canada, MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US
Those two tiny yellow dots represent goals from Saucedo and Savarino in RSL's 2-1 win over Atlanta on Friday. The bigger the dot, the more likely a shot is to go in. One school of thought would be that such a plan wouldn't be sustainable, thus requiring the finishing touch of Johnson. Another would be that Montreal will bunker and defend in a low-block as normal, thus requiring the long-range expertise of Saucedo and Savarino.
Also: With just 88 minutes under his belt after a lengthy injury absence, is Wednesday night when Montreal maestro Ignacio Piatti returns to his MVP-caliber form?
Union's press vs. Rapids' transition
Philadelphia Union vs. Colorado Rapids | 7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, DAZN in Canada
The Colorado Rapids have embraced playing in transition since Conor Casey was appointed interim head coach, which has been aided by the acquisition of Jonathan Lewis. If they can bypass Philadelphia's press, space will be aplenty for Lewis and co.
Philly are ending a three-game home swing. Failing to beat the Rapids – following a draw with Seattle and a loss to Portland – would be one sharp punch to the gut, a quick reminder that they still have a few hurdles to clear to top the Eastern Conference this season. After Wednesday's match, the Union have four of their next five on the road.
Chicago Fire and search for a first-choice XI
D.C. United vs. Chicago Fire | 8 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, DAZN in Canada
The optimistic view on that would be that Veljko Paunovic has depth and options. The pessimistic view would be that it'll be difficult to achieve the club's aspirations without more continuity. Regardless of the philosophical outlook behind the club's starting XI, they won't find their best lineup against D.C. United if Nico Gaitan is still out. The Argentine is listed as questionable.
One team who does know their strongest XI is D.C. United. But, with the club just over the halfway point of six games in 20 days, they haven't been able to constantly run out their first-choice XI every game. Congestion and injuries are the culprits there.
Can SKC build momentum?
Sporting Kansas City vs. LA Galaxy | 8:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, DAZN in Canada
For the first time in just short of two months, Sporting Kansas City emerged victorious from a soccer game. If you're keeping score at home, that was good for seven MLS games and two Concacaf Champions League games. Before their injury-plagued drought occurred, SKC were thought of as a prime challenger to LAFC for the Supporters' Shield and a legit threat in CCL play.
Prior to Sunday's Johnny Russell-inspired win, they were entering 2018 Toronto FC territory – a talented team eviscerated by injuries and inexplicable lapses that never quite recovered. So, which version of 2019 SKC is closer to the truth?
In the interim, this is great news: