Three Big Storylines
- With the midweek games this week, MLS has largely balanced the schedule at long last. Every team has five or six games to play in their 2018 MLS season. The San Jose Earthquakes lead the ‘race’ for the first overall draft pick with 20 points from 29 played and have recently fired their manager Mikael Stahre. Interim manager Steve Ralston had the Earthquakes up 3-1 in the 58th minute on Atlanta United in his debut on Wednesday. But in a sort of reverse goonies callback, they gave up three late goals to lose 4-3, thus solidifying that hold on last place. Josef Martinez scored his 30th goal on the season and has an 11 goal lead over Bradley Wright-Phillips in the Golden Boot race.
- The Supporters’ Shield looks to be Atlanta’s to lose. They have 60 points from 29 played and are in range of the all-time single season MLS points record, which was set last season by Toronto FC with 69 points. Atlanta hosts Real Salt Lake this weekend, after which they travel to New York to take on the Red Bulls. But then they have two winnable home matches against the New England Revolution and Chicago Fire before finishing the season at Toronto FC. TFC might not be playing for anything but their 2017 legacy in that finale.
- With the new format in the Concacaf Champions League there is a chance that an extra spot will open up for the 2019 tournament. Sporting KC have qualified from winning the 2017 US Open Cup, Toronto FC have qualified via the Canadian Championship, the winner of next week’s US Open Cup final between the Houston Dynamo and Philadelphia Union will qualify, and the winner of MLS Cup 2018 will qualify, leaving one spot up for grabs. That spot will be filled by the U.S. team that has accumulated the most points across the 2017 and 2018 seasons, currently Atlanta United. If an already qualified team wins MLS Cup then the next spot goes to the points table.
From a Sounders Point of View
Looking at point three above, Sounders fans have a vested interest in cheering against the New York teams. Seattle is nine points back of both teams, but with a game in hand. It’s a long shot, but let’s cheer for Canada this weekend as Toronto FC are at New York Red Bulls and the Montreal Impact host New York City FC.
The Philadelphia Union are hosting Sporting Kansas City on Saturday before they travel to Houston for the US Open Cup final on Wednesday; let’s hope their makeshift lineup can get a result.
Atlanta host Real Salt Lake on Saturday. We are all in on Atlanta getting three points.
Last week in this space we asked if the Houston Dynamo could earn just their second point in their last nine matches played when hosting the Portland Timbers. They did better than that and got their first league win since July 7th thanks to a 4-1 thrashing of the Portland Timbers. Let’s try that again — please, Minnesota United, can you just get a draw against the Timbers on Saturday?
National TV Listings
Los Angeles Football Club v San Jose Earthquakes
Date/Time: Saturday, 12:30 PM
Philadelphia Union v Sporting Kansas City
Date/Time: Sunday, 10:00 AM
Streaming: Watch ESPN
Los Angeles Galaxy v Seattle Sounders
Date/Time: Sunday, 4:00 PM
Streaming: Fox Sports Go
This is your Sounder at Heart MLS Weekend Week 30 open gamethread. Watch with us.