With CONCACAF Champions League out of the way for a short while, it is time to focus fully on MLS play. Here are five questions leading into Week 3 off Major League Soccer.
Can a bruised and tattered Sounders side defeat Dallas at Toyota Stadium?
As of last week, the Seattle Sounders was riding high following its 1-0 win against Chivas Guadalajara in the CONCACAF Champions League. A week later, Seattle found itself losing dramatically to the same side, thusly, knocking them out of the tournament. Now, after losing their first match of the MLS season and being knocked out of the Champions League, the Sounders must travel to Toyota Stadium in Frisco to take on a well-rested FC Dallas squad. Dallas enjoyed themselves a long break having earned a bye week during Week 2 of MLS play; whereas, the Sounders participated in a losing effort during the midweek. It would be surprising to see a fully fit Seattle squad take the field, let alone defeat a well-rested FC Dallas team.
Will NYCFC continue to be the better of the two 2015 expansion sides?
The introduction of NYCFC and Orlando City FC to Major League Soccer in 2015 was exciting. Both clubs splashed on the scene with terrific fan bases and world renown players. Since 2015, the two clubs have moved in opposite directions. NYCFC has made the playoffs twice and has fought for the Eastern Conference’s top spot while Orlando City has yet to make the playoffs. In the recent offseason, Orlando attempted to alleviate their pain by reorganizing their roster. However, this has yet to pay off. The Lions has started its season 0-1-1. On the other hand, New York has started its season with two wins in two games. NYCFC has a chance to further put down their fellow 2015 expansion side with a win against Orlando at Yankee Stadium.
Toronto FC has done it in CONCACAF, but can they do it in the league?
Toronto FC has done an incredible job getting past Tigres UANL in the quarter-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League. Now, within a month, the Canadian side will have to play to Liga MX giants Club America. In the meantime, Toronto has two MLS games before their matchup in the semi-finals. Its first of which is against fellow Canadian side Montreal Impact. Montreal has not started the season off right as it has lost both of its first two matches. Like the Impact, Toronto has yet to win a game this season as well, losing its one and only game this season. If Toronto wants a chance to defend their league title, they need to grab a few points in this match and hope to avoid a slow start to the 2018 season.
Can the Columbus Crew continue their undefeated run?
Even with the impending doom of relocation, the Columbus Crew continue to strive for Eastern Conference success. The black and gold club has begun its season 2-0-0 and currently sit atop the conference table with six points. Led by former LA Galaxy prodigy Gyasi Zardes, the Crew appear to be back in 2016 MLS form. Columbus’ weekend opponent is against the Philadelphia Union. The Union has yet to lose this season and did not participate in Week 2 play, suggesting the side may be fully rested before their match at home.
Which Atlanta United FC will show up against Vancouver?
Before the start of the season, nearly everyone, including, myself, suggested that Atlanta United was this year’s clear favorite for MLS domination. Following their Week 1 performance against the Houston Dynamo that saw them lose, 5-0, it dawned on everyone that their prediction might not be true. Fast forward a week later and Atlanta was convincingly beating D.C. United, 3-1. From this view, it is hard to know which Atlanta will show up for the rest of the season. The star-studded roster is known to make the league drool with its skillful prowess, but what if 2018 is like another 2017. What if Atlanta is all show and no play? Only this weekend and the rest of the year can answer that.