Orlando-Atlanta. Galaxy-LAFC. Toronto-Montreal. Rapids-RSL. RBNY-D.C. Timbers-Sounders.
Heineken Rivalry Weekend hits its crescendo this weekend with a bevy of regional showdowns across North America. And while matchups like this tend to pulsate regardless of the standings and form sheet, each of these games is rich with other implications, whether it be the race for the MLS Cup Playoffs or other considerations.
So which team can make the biggest statement with an HRW win over their adversaries?
Who can make the biggest statement with a Heineken Rivalry Week win?
BOEHM: Seattle, D.C. United and Toronto FC are the odds-on picks here, in that order. But let's be real: What would be a more shocking weekend result than luckless, star-crossed, confidence-deprived Orlando City taking all three points off mighty Shield leaders Atlanta United, who've only lost once in their last 13 league matches dating back to mid-May?
The Lions are already looking ahead to 2019, but their frustrated fans could eat off a win over ATLUTD for months.
DOYLE: Seattle, man. Since the end of the shootout era – 19 seasons! – only ONE team has had a winning streak longer than six games. One!
If the Sounders become No. 2, and do it at Portland while leapfrogging the Timbers in the standings? Uh, yeah. That's a hell of a statement. Nothing else that happens this weekend would be close.
STEJSKAL: Let's not overthink this: It's D.C. Seattle, at least in my eyes, have already announced that they're in for the long haul. United are a different question.
Those wins against Orlando, Portland and New England were important, but they came against one bad team, one that was on short rest and in the middle of a brutal road trip and another that's in a serious slump. They were also all at home. I think D.C. United challenge for the playoffs regardless of what happens this Sunday at Red Bull Arena, but a win there would stamp them as more than a mere hopeful. It'd cement them as a serious threat.
WARSHAW: Seattle, for all the reasons Doyle said. But I think Montreal is a close second. Every point in that East race matters, and this is as "six-pointer" as they come. Toronto could close the gap to six points with two games in hand, or Montreal can extend their cushion over the Reds to 12 points. We've been expecting TFC to figure it out and win these games, but a Montreal victory could be a big nail in Toronto's coffin.
WIEBE: Seattle is the “right” answer here, but I’m going with D.C. United, who have their own streak going. Here’s a very plausible scenario for you…
Montreal lose in Toronto. New England lose in Philly. D.C. catch the New York Red Bulls on short rest, Lucho Acosta bangs in a couple more, Wayne Rooney goes viral again, the winning streak hits four games and United remind New York which rivalry came first. At the end of Sunday night, the Black-and-Red trail the Impact by three points for the sixth and final playoff spot, with four games in hand and home dates for nine of their final 11 matches. Oh, and they’ve put the finishing touches on a momentum-busting one-point, three-game week for their rivals.