MLS Weekend Preview
Orlando, Seattle Confront Big Changes in Front Office
July 29, 2016
WITH THE MLS ALL-STAR GAME thankfully behind us, attention can now shift back to games that actually matter. While not many of this weeken's contests stand out on paper, a few could be very revealing as Dallas, Seattle, and Orlando all enter into transitional phases.
Jason Kreis era begins in Orlando
On Sunday, Jason Kreis kicks off his tenure as Orlando's second head coach when the Florida club hosts the New England Revolution (7:30pm ET, MLS Live).
Orlando has been abysmal since April, winning just twice in 16 games. Kreis will inherit a talented core featuring Cyle Larin, Brek Shea, Tommy Redding, and of course Kaka. Despite the slide, Orlando is still in the playoff hunt as it trails sixth place New England by just three points while also holding a game in hand. With a win on Sunday, Orlando would leapfrog the Revolution into playoff position.
If there were any locker room issues under Adrian Heath, perhaps they will be minimized under Kreis. It's impossible to know what immediate impact Kreis will bring although over the long term the future looks bright. Kreis is known and respected figure in MLS. He got a raw deal with New York City FC but he should have more control at Orlando City, which will also be more patient with his approach.
New York City – Colorado on Saturday
All but one MLS game is on Sunday this weekend the lone exception being New York City – Colorado, which will play on Saturday (3pm ET, MLS Live) due to a scheduling conflict at Yankee Stadium.
This should be a good game although the Rapids will likely be without U.S. international Jermaine Jones who is out with a knee injury. New York City should have Andrea Pirlo available although he only flew back to New York late Thursday night due to the All-Star game.
Both teams are tough to figure out this year. Colorado boasts an impressive 14-game unbeaten streak in MLS matches although it has won just once in five games. New York City is presently in first place in the Eastern Conference but is coming off a bad loss to the Red Bulls last weekend—and its defense has been suspect at times.
Patrick Vieira’s team has the attacking talent but Colorado’s defense, which has conceded only 14 goals in 2016, is by far the best in the league. With a motivated Tim Howard now in goal, Colorado has become even stingier.
The Post-Sigi era begins in Seattle
Seattle has been a trainwreck this season and it really came as no surprise that Sigi Schmid, the only coach in the team’s MLS history, was fired on Tuesday. There were rumors of locker room strife and there is no question the team played below the sum of its parts. Due to the high-profile nature of the Sounders organization, failure is just unacceptable.
The chances of making the playoffs are slim-to-none for a Seattle team that is ninth place in the Western Conference and is 10 points out of the playoff mix. The turnaround will fall on interim head coach Brian Schmetzer, who knows the team well.
Will removing Schmid have a big impact by itself? That could be revealed on Sunday when the Sounders host the L.A. Galaxy (4pm ET, MLS Live).
Schmetzer has a tough task. The Galaxy is the hottest team in the league right now with four straight league wins (six overall in all competitions) and Bruce Arena's team boasts an MLS-best +15 goal differential. As Colorado has come back down to earth in recent weeks and Dallas is on the verge of losng its best attacking player, the Galaxy could make a push toward the top of the standings.
How will FC Dallas do without Castillo?
Despite a few bad outings, FC Dallas has been the best team in the league this season by a wide margin. On paper, the team does not have many weaknesses and the core consists of young players who have been together for several years.
All predictions of FC Dallas being the runaway favorite for MLS Cup now have to be put on hold as Fabian Castillo is now with Trabzonspor in Turkey. The test will truly be on Oscar Pareja to develop a winning formula without a player who was among the best attacking players in the league. Pareja has built a strong team but replacing Castillo is a very difficult challenge. If Dallas can find ways to continue to stay in first place in the Western Conference, Pareja will establish himself as one of the best coaches in the league.
The backline for Dallas remains strong and there are still very capable attacking players. Will the club make a move ahead of next week’s deadline? That will be an interesting story to follow.
On Sunday, Dallas hosts sixth-place Vancouver which has been struggling lately with just two wins in its last nine MLS games. The Canadian team will have pressure as a loss to Dallas combined with a Portland win would send it below the red line.
New York City FC 0-0 Colorado Rapids
Sporting Kansas City 2-1 Portland Timbers
Seattle Sounders 1-3 LA Galaxy
FC Dallas 1-0 Vancouver Whitecaps
D.C. United 0-2 Montreal Impact
Philadelphia Union 1-1 Real Salt Lake
Chicago Fire 1-3 New York Red Bulls
Toronto FC 2-1 Columbus Crew SC
Orlando City 2-0 New England Revolution
Houston Dynamo 1-0 San Jose Earthquakes