By DAN KARELL
A short weekend in action culminates in one of, if not the most, exciting rivalries in Major League Soccer.
In their past two matches, the Seattle Sounders have lost by a combined score of 9-2, and in their third match in seven days, the Sounders will have to dig deep to produce a winning performance against their arch-rival Portland Timbers. Caleb Porter’s side sit just one point behind the Sounders and a win would go a long way towards determining playoff positions for both teams.
Elsewhere in MLS this weekend, a short-handed Philadelphia Union side visit D.C. United, Marco Di Vaio and the Montreal Impact host the youth-infused New England Revolution, and FC Dallas host Mike Magee the Chicago Fire at Toyota Stadium on Saturday evening.
Here’s a look at this weekend’s slate in MLS Week 34:
MONTREAL IMPACT vs. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (Saturday, 2:30pm, MLS Live/TSN/RDS)
Two teams at opposite spectrums of the age chart face off in a key late-season match that could determine whether the Revolution make the playoffs or find themselves on the outside looking in.
For all the goals that 37-year-old Marco Di Vaio has scored (19 this season), the Impact have looked their age since the middle of June. Watch as 18-year-old Diego Fagundez, 20-year-old Juan Agudelo, and 21-year-old Kelyn Rowe run at Impact veterans like 37-year-old Alessandro Nesta, 33-year-old Matteo Ferrari, and 34-year-old Patrice Bernier. Both the Revolution’s Andy Dorman (red card) and the Impact’s Hassoun Camara (yellow card accumulation) miss the match due to suspension.
D.C. UNITED vs. PHILADELPHIA UNION (Saturday, 7pm, MLS Live)
D.C. United don’t have much to play for this season but they can help a number of other teams trying to get into the Eastern Conference playoff picture with a surprise result against the Union.
The Union have won the last two MLS meetings but Dwayne De Rosario, who is away on international duty, scored a hat-trick for D.C. United in their U.S. Open Cup victory over the Union. The Union won’t have at their disposal either of their wing backs, Fabinho and Sheanon Williams, due to suspension. John Thorrington unfortunately misses out for the hosts with defender Ethan White questionable due to knee swelling.
FC DALLAS vs. CHICAGO FIRE (Saturday, 8:30pm, MLS Live)
With speculation over FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman’s situation with the club, the veteran coach can do wonders towards keeping his job with a massive result against the Fire.
Mike Magee and the Fire though will likely expect that the Union will take care of business at RFK Stadium, meaning they’ll have even more ground to cover on the road as they hope to keep pace and squeeze into the playoffs. Both teams are hurt by international call-ups, with the Fire losing Joel Lindpere and Arevalo Rios, while FC Dallas lose Blas Perez and Je-Vaugn Watson.
Anything but a win for FC Dallas eliminates them from playoff contention.
PORTLAND TIMBERS vs. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (Sunday, 9pm, ESPN)
The Cascadia Cup is still up for grabs when the slumping Sounders head into Jeld-Wen Field to face a top-notch Timbers side that are unbeaten in their last five games.
Maximiliano Urruti has been an instant success since joining the Timbers in early September, starting the last three matches and scoring his first goal in a huge win against the LA Galaxy. On the other side, the Sounders will hope that Leo Gonzalez can return to shore up a defense that will be missing Zach Scott again due to red card suspension, and Clint Dempsey could feature after playing 40 minutes last Wednesday.
The Sounders will be missing Eddie Johnson and Brad Evans while Portland loses Rodney Wallace, Ryan Johnson, and Alvas Powell to international selection. The Sounders can also secure the Cascadia Cup with victory in Portland.