Expect the unexpected in MLS Week 14. Especially with international duty ransacking a share of the league's rosters.
A quartet of upsets in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup set the tone for the impending action this weekend. The San Jose Earthquakes, Colorado Rapids, Los Angeles Galaxy and Seattle Sounders all fell to lower division sides.
Fortunately for them, the turnaround is quick in MLS.
Eighteen of the 19 teams will return to action this weekend. But with nine matches on tap, what warrants your attention in Week 14?
Read on to find out.
Which match will you—the fan—be watching this weekend?
Before we delve into the featured storylines for this weekend's action, here is the complete schedule and guide for Week 14. The Portland Timbers are idle.
Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union, 6:00 p.m. ET, MLS Live
New York Red Bulls vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, 7:00 p.m. ET, MLS Live
Columbus Crew vs. Houston Dynamo, 7:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live
Sporting Kansas City vs. Montreal Impact, 8:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live
Colorado Rapids vs. FC Dallas, 9:00 p.m. ET, MLS Live
Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 9:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live
Chivas USA vs. Seattle Sounders, 10:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live
New England Revolution vs. Los Angeles Galaxy, 4:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
Chicago Fire vs. DC United, 5:00 p.m. ET, UniMas
“Depth” will be the word that defines MLS Week 14.
Toronto was the only club to not face a mid-week opponent ahead of this weekend's action. But there's another obstacle—besides fatigue—that head coaches must manage.
MLS’ decision to adopt a non-international calendar has been debated ad nauseam. A temporary justification for that decision can be found here.
But there is no denying one of the calendar's glaring flaws: There are meaningful matches being played surrounding FIFA sanctioned international dates.
Week 14 will be no different.
A total of 53 players have been called up for international duty, including some of the game’s biggest stars. Eddie Johnson, Robbie Keane and Graham Zusi highlight an extensive list of talented players that will miss action in the coming weeks.
But there’s no pause button for MLS. The show must go on.
There are spots to be filled in the month of June. Head coaches will be desperate for bodies. Unproven commodities around the league will now have the opportunity to earn increased playing time moving forward.
The time to earn the trust of their team is now.
That is the amount of times Marco Di Vaio has been called offsides this season, by far the most in the league.
But call him offsides all you want. All the 36-year-old striker needs is one chance to make you pay.
Di Vaio entered Saputo Stadium last Saturday trailing Philadelphia’s Jack McInerney by two goals in the Golden Boot race. Ninety minutes later, the savvy Italian exited with a first-half hat-trick and a share of the Golden Boot lead.
But a more daunting task awaits Di Vaio in Week 14. A trip to Kansas City has haunted a myriad of strikers before him. If he hopes to maintain his Golden Boot lead, Di Vaio must overcome the hallowed grounds of Sporting Park.
It won't be easy.
Kansas City boasts one of the league’s stingiest defenses, with a 0.71 goals against average before a home crowd. True, Sporting will be without the services of Matt Besler due to international duty. But head coach Peter Vermes has a bit of depth at his disposal with Aurelien Collin and Ike Opara.
Montreal’s championship celebration must be cut short.
An opportunity to recapture first place in the Eastern Conference is on the line this Saturday.
The Chicago native is finally home, and what a start it's been for midfielder Mike Magee.
The 28-year-old scored his first goal in a Fire uniform in the team’s 2-0 victory over the Charlotte Eagles Wednesday night.
For the Fire, the trade with the Galaxy couldn’t have come at a better time. Frank Klopas' side has been struggling all season to find the back of the net. After 11 games, Chicago has scored a pitiful seven goals as a team.
Even with Magee’s acquisition, the Fire face an arduous journey in the coming months. The team sits 10 points back of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. But with a pair of games in hand, the opportunity is there to cut that deficit to as little as four.
A return trip home—to host DC United—could serve as the spark that ignites an improbable playoff run.
DC’s last MLS victory came on March 9. Even worse, the Black and Red have scored just six goals all season.
If you did the math correctly, that’s as many as Magee has on his own.
Don’t look now, but the upstart Revolution are actually vying for a playoff spot 14 weeks into the season.
A stout defense has carried New England to a surprising 16 points after 12 games. A league-low nine goals is all opposing teams have been able to muster against Jay Heaps’ young squad.
Only four have come at home.
As a result, New England sits two points back of the Union for fifth in the Eastern Conference. But with a game in hand, that is hardly an insurmountable lead.
The Revolution’s recent form includes a victory over the Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium and a draw at home against the Red Bulls. Both teams are currently locked into playoff positioning. Both teams were unable to overpower the inexperienced Revs.
New England is now riding a three-game unbeaten streak—highlighted by the scorching form of forward Diego Fagundez. The 18-year-old wunderkind has made the most of his recent opportunities, scoring in each of his last three starts.
But championship pedigree will be tested in Week 14.
A visit from the Galaxy awaits the Revolution this weekend. Securing a victory on Sunday will go a long way in legitimizing New England's playoff contention.
What a difference a year makes.
Last season, Dallas and Colorado were on the outside looking in. Both teams failed to secure the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Just a few months later, both teams are jockeying for playoff position.
Dallas currently sits atop the Supporters’ Shield standings, with the Rapids trailing eight points behind. If the Hoops hope to extend that lead this weekend, they must do so without the services of their home crowd.
But the tide turns once the Hoops exit their friendly confines.
The league leaders are a pedestrian 1-2-2 on the road this season. That's a cause for concern considering this week's opponent.
Solid goalkeeping can be attributed to Colorado’s turnaround year. Rookie Clint Irwin leads all goalkeepers with a 0.64 goals against average and an 82.6 save percentage. Even better, the 24-year-old has recorded five shutouts in the process.
Only Kansas City’s Jimmy Nielsen has more (seven).
Don’t expect another howler in this one. It’ll take more than a gift from a backup goalkeeper for Dallas to secure a second victory over the Rapids.
Irwin and company will make sure of that.
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