The Montreal Impact turned heads across North America with an improbable run to the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League final, but the club struggled to stay in the playoff picture for a bulk of this season’s MLS campaign. Entering Wednesday’s mid-week tilt with the Chicago Fire (7-16-6, 27 points, East #10), however, Montreal (10-11-6, 36 points, East #6) not only looks like a sure-fire playoff team—it has the makeup of a potential MLS Cup team (8 p.m. ET, TSN). The Impact is 2-0-2 since interim head coach Mauro Biello took the reins on August 31. Summer signings Didier Drogba (averaging an otherworldly 1.20 goals per 90) and Johan Venegas (opened his MLS account with this golazo) both scored in Saturday’s 3-0 dispatching of the red-hot New England Revolution.
Orlando City SC continue playoff push with away trip to New York Red Bulls
After becoming the first team to clinch a spot in the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs with their win last week, the New York Red Bulls (14-8-6, 48 points, East #1) host Orlando City SC (9-13-8, 35 points, East #7) at Red Bull Arena in this week’s edition of Viernes de Futbol at 7 p.m. ET (UniMás). Since June 24, the Red Bulls have gone 10-3-1 with goalkeeper Luis Robles posting six shutouts during that time and is the early favorite for MLS Save of the Week with his impressive double save against the Portland Timbers (watch here). Also heating up is Orlando City, who earned their second straight win last week, with young Designated Player Bryan Rochez also scoring in his second straight game, to keep themselves in the playoff conversation. Only one point behind the Montreal Impact (36 points, East #6), Orlando City will try and go for three straight wins to keep up the pressure on their Eastern Conference rivals.
Toronto FC continues five-match home stand when it welcomes Chicago Fire to BMO Field
Toronto FC (12-13-4, 40 points, East #5) continue a five-match home stand when they play host to the Chicago Fire (7-16-6, 27 points, East #10) at BMO Field at 2 p.m. ET (TSN) Saturday afternoon. Toronto enter the match having snapped a three-match losing streak with a 3-1 win over the Colorado Rapids. Leading MVP candidate Sebastian Giovinco notched two goals and an assist in the victory, his seventh game this season in which he tallied a goal and an assist. The Chicago Fire will be relying on the talents of speedy winger David Accam, who has racked up two goals and an assist in his past four matches, to try and unlock the Toronto defense.
Whitecaps FC chase Supporters’ Shield as New York City FC keeps playoff hopes alive
Vancouver Whitecaps FC (15-11-3, 48 points, West #1) and New York City FC (9-14-7, 34 points, East #7) meet for the first time ever on Saturday in a match that has massive ramifications for both sides—but for different reasons (10 p.m. ET, TSN1). Whitecaps FC failed to secure a third consecutive Cascadia Cup on Saturday, but it already has a Canadian Championship trophy in stow and currently sits atop the Supporters’ Shield standings entering Week 30. It’s a remarkable feat for Vancouver considering it entered the 2015 season with a roster that had an average player age of 23.7 years old. The ‘Caps have a shot at a treble this year, but they’ll need to fend off a New York City side that is finally showcasing the promised potential of its star-studded roster. In back-to-back wins versus Toronto FC and the San Jose Earthquakes last week, Frank Lampard opened his MLS account and added an assist, Andrea Pirlo turned in two helpers, and David Villa registered a goal and an assist. NYCFC may be figuring things out, but it may be too little too late. In order to leapfrog Toronto FC or the Montreal Impact, the expansion side needs to secure results in three-straight upcoming road matches against teams in playoff slots.
Sporting Kansas City, Seattle Sounders FC snap summer skids to jockey for Supporters’ Shield
An MLS Soccer Sunday tripleheader kicks off with a Western Conference clash between Sporting Kansas City (12-8-8, 44 points, West #5) and Seattle Sounders FC (14-13-3, 45 points, West #4) at 5 p.m. ET (ESPN, ESPN Deportes). Seattle enters The Cauldron on the heels of Saturday’s Cascadia Cup-clinching win in Vancouver, which extended its unbeaten streak to four games (the longest current streak in MLS). After a summer that featured a five-game losing streak, Sounders FC has returned to form and appears to be peaking at the perfect time. Losing midseason addition Roman Torres to a torn ACL has created a void along the backline, but as long as Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey are healthy, Seattle can compete for MLS Cup. Sporting Kansas City has also bounced back after snapping a season-worst five-game winless streak with Friday’s 3-1 thrashing of FC Dallas. Sporting KC is well within striking distance of the Supporters’ Shield with only four points separating the Western Conference newcomers and current leaders Vancouver.
San Jose Earthquakes and Real Salt Lake meet in decisive Western Conference meeting
In a match with huge playoff implications in the crowded Western Conference, Real Salt Lake (10-11-8, 38 points, West #8) travel to Avaya Stadium to take on the San Jose Earthquakes (11-12-7, 40 points, West #7) in the second of three games on MLS Soccer Sunday at 7 p.m. ET (FS1, FOX Deportes). RSL is getting hot just at the right time after winning their second straight match (3-1-0 in their last four games) to keep their playoff hopes alive. With his goal and assist last match, RSL midfield maestro Javier Morales now has two goals and two assists in his past two games, bringing his season tally to eight goals and 11 assists – his third straight season with eight-plus goals and 10-plus assists. San Jose enters the match going 4-2-2 in their last eight games dating back to August 15 with star forward Chris Wondolowski notching six goals during that time span. With the two clubs just below the red line, both teams will have a must-win mindset headed into Sunday’s clash.
LA Galaxy, FC Dallas duel atop the Western Conference standings
In a matchup atop the Western Conference standings, the LA Galaxy (13-9-8, 47 points, West #3) host FC Dallas (14-9-5, 47 points, West #2) at the StubHub Center at 9:30 p.m. (FS1, FOX Deportes) to cap off MLS Soccer Sunday. FC Dallas has been relying on their homegrown talent of late, with Victor Ulloa bagging his first career MLS goal and 20-year-old goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez posting two shutouts, making 18 saves and going 3-2-0 since August 22. LA Galaxy will be happy to return home, where they have gone an impressive 23-2-7 dating back to March 9, 2014. Robbie Keane will be leading the way for LA, having racked up nine goals and three assists in his past five matches at the StubHub Center. With the two clubs level on points with only four weeks to play, this match will have big implications on the Supporters’ Shield race.