Rivalry Week - 2019 - LA vs LAFC scrum with HRW branding

Heineken Rivalry Week is here! Breaking down what's at stake across MLS

Heineken Rivalry Week has arrived, and teams across MLS will be battling some of their closest rivals for not just bragging rights, but playoff positioning — or even just a spot in the 2019 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs — as the season enters the home stretch. Here's what's at stake in each game from Wednesday all the way through Sunday:

Wednesday, Aug. 21

D.C. United vs. New York Red Bulls – 8:00 PM ET

Watch on: UniMás, Twitter (USA); TVAS, MLS LIVE on DAZN (CAN)

Rivalry Week kicks off with one of the league’s O.G. rivalries in this Atlantic Cup. There’s plenty of history between these two teams, and the fans will make sure both the coaches and players know it. Though both are fairly comfortably ensconced in playoff spots, it is likely that only one will get a home game, which will only be more important with the league’s new playoff format, adding a little extra juice to an already-tantalizing matchup.

LAFC vs. San Jose Earthquakes – 10:30 PM ET

Watch on: UniMás, Twitter (USA); MLS LIVE on DAZN (CAN)

El Trafico may take the headlines these days, but the showdowns between all-conquering LAFC and the upstart Quakes are quickly becoming can’t-miss soccer. San Jose gave LAFC some serious problems in their U.S. Open Cup showdown earlier this summer, and LAFC boss Bob Bradley had some pointed comments about counterpart Matias Almeyda’s style of coaching after that one. Expect another high-intensity clash at Banc of California Stadium.

Thursday, Aug. 22

Sporting KC vs. Minnesota United – 9:30 PM ET

Watch on: ESPN, WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes (USA); MLS LIVE on DAZN (CAN)

For the better part of the last decade, Sporting Kansas City have been one of the league's toughest teams to play against. For the first two years of their existence, Minnesota United struggled to get out of the bottom places. This year, the tables have turned for these two Midwestern teams. The Loons sit second in the West, and will be looking to cement their push for a home playoff game at their outstanding new Allianz Field. Sporting’s playoff chances look to be fading despite a comeback win over the Quakes this past weekend, but they'll be desperate to keep their streak of eight straight postseason appearances alive.

Friday, Aug. 23

Orlando City vs. Atlanta United – 8:00 PM ET

Watch on: ESPN, WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes (USA); TVAS (CAN)

Both sets of fans have brought the atmosphere and intensity whenever these Southern rivals have met, but only one team has sent their fans home happy. Atlanta have posted a 6-0-2 all-time record against the Lions, the most recent win coming two weeks ago in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals. The way things are trending with Atlanta rounding into their MLS Cup-winning form after some early hiccups, it could be another uphill battle for Orlando, who finally find themselves in the mix for a playoff spot down the stretch run. Given the history, form and talent, there is a sense of inevitability about this one, but that might make an Orlando win at this juncture all the more special.

Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders – 10:00 PM ET

Watch on: ESPN, WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes (USA); TVAS (CAN)

The second game of the Friday night ESPN doubleheader is a match that most fans who’ve followed the league over the last decade will be familiar with. This Cascadia Cup clash has always been appointment viewing, and with both teams jockeying for position – or even a place – in the postseason come mid-October, this one will be no different. Can the Timbers continuing rising in the West, as so many pundits seem to think is inevitable? Can the Sounders stop their summer slide? We’ll find out on Friday night.

Saturday, Aug. 24

New York City FC vs. New York Red Bulls – 7:30 PM ET

Watch on: ESPN2, WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes (USA); MLS LIVE on DAZN (CAN)

Jesus Medina and Aaron Long | USA Today Sports Images

The Cityzens are in imperious form heading into this one. The Red Bulls? Not so much. But write off Chris Armas’ side at your own peril. The red side of New York is always game for these matches and still hold the upper hand with a 7-2-4 record in MLS play against their rivals. Dome Torrent’s side is clicking, though, and will be eager to cement their status as bona fide contenders in the East.

Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact – 7:30 PM ET

Watch on: TSN4, TVAS (CAN); MLS LIVE on ESPN+ (USA)

The Canadian Classique makes its return with the two rivals tied on points, but sitting on either side of the playoff line. Montreal hold the wins tiebreaker over TFC, but have also played one more game. This one has all the ingredients to be special – Montreal have been banging in the goals despite some spotty recent form, while the 2017 MLS Cup champs will be desperate not to miss the postseason for a second straight year.

Sunday, Aug. 25

FC Cincinnati vs. Columbus Crew SC – 6:00 PM ET

Watch on: FS1, FOX Sports App, FOX Deportes (USA); MLS LIVE on DAZN (CAN)

Fans at the first Columbus-Cincy MLS matchup | USA Today Sports Images

After an electric MLS debut on Aug. 10, the Hell Is Real derby will make the short trip southwest to Cincinnati. With these two teams occupying the final two spots in the Eastern Conference, in-state bragging rights (not to mention roster spots next year) are likely the biggest prize on offer here. But if their back-and-forth meeting at MAPFRE Stadium was indication, there should be plenty of action to be had in Cincy on Sunday evening.

FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo – 8:00 PM ET

Watch on: FS1, FOX Sports App, FOX Deportes (USA); TSN1 (CAN)

The mood is getting desperate in Texas as these two sides look to revive their playoff hopes. Dallas engineered a spectacular comeback this past weekend in Montreal, but with the fewest games remaining of any Western Conference contender, they still face an uphill battle. Houston, six points out of a playoff spot, face even longer odds to make the postseason, but will surely be relishing the opportunity to put a huge dent in their rivals’ chances, not to mention their first win under new interim head coach Davy Arnaud.

LAFC vs. LA Galaxy

Watch on: FS1, FOX Sports App, FOX Deportes (USA); TSN1 (CAN)

El Trafico has provided high drama at every turn, and will provide a fitting end to an action-packed Rivalry Week. Arguably the league’s two biggest stars, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Carlos Vela, will pick up their on-field rivalry once more. Zlatan has gotten the best of LAFC at every turn so far, but with the series heading back to Banc of California Stadium and the home side in all-conquering form, there will be no better opportunity for Vela & Co. to break their duck against their SoCal rivals.

Series: 

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