MLS Heineken Rivalry Week is upon us and the match-ups presented pose major storylines and playoff implications around the league. The week ahead includes six rivalry games that are full of playoff hopes, fierce emotions, and battles for pride.
It begins with Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids (Fri., Aug. 26), who play for the Rocky Mountain Cup. Both teams have beaten the other already this year, the margin being 1-0 in both those games. Colorado is the number two team in the league, but Real Salt Lake has not lost a home game yet and is fresh off of a win against league leaders FC Dallas.
Our pick: Real Salt Lake
The 401 Derby (Sat., Aug. 27) features a Toronto side that is fighting for first place in the East and a Montreal side that is desperately trying to reconstruct and keep a playoff position after a 3-0 midweek loss to Chicago.
Our pick: Toronto FC
FC Dallas will attempt to crush the orange again as they play the Houston Dynamo (Sat., Aug. 27) after their return from a midweek CONCACAF Champions League clash against Real Esteli FC. The two teams met a few weeks ago in the Open Cup and FC Dallas came out victorious after Fabian Castillo (now playing in Turkey) scored a minute into stoppage time to give Dallas the 1-0 triumph. The Dynamo sit at the bottom of the table while Dallas tries to remain at the top.
Our pick: FC Dallas
New York Red Bulls play the New England Revolution (Sun., Aug. 28) in a classic fixture with a twist. Instead of New England being the dominant team, New York is fighting for first place while their counterpart attempts to hold on to a playoff position. New England will be coming fresh off of a midweek trip to San Jose. The Red Bulls are unbeaten in eight straight and the Revolution have lost four in a row.
Our pick: New York Red Bulls
The Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders (Sun., Aug. 28) is quite possibly the best rivalry week matchup. The two teams met this past weekend and the Sounders were able to produce a 3-1 victory in front of their home fans. Perspectives change next week as the series heads back to Portland, and Seattle will be coming off of a midweek fixture against the Houston Dynamo in Houston. The added pressure that both teams are fighting for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference makes this game even more important.
Our pick: Portland Timbers
Orlando City FC vs. New York City FC (Sun., Aug. 28) brings two teams that entered the league at the same time together once again. Former NYCFC coach Jason Kreis now manages in Orlando, which adds a bit of drama to the fixture. The biggest storyline, however, is that Orlando will be trying to win the final playoff spot in the East while NYCFC would like to keep their place at the top of the table.
Our pick: Orlando City FC