Returning after an international break is usually cause for celebration anyway but this week in MLS looks extraordinary. This weekend will see the first LA Derby between LA Galaxy and LAFC with the inclusion of a special guest as teams around the league look to maintain form and avenge past losses. Check out all the fixtures below:
Friday 30th March
Toronto FC vs Real Salt Lake
Beginning MLS action this week are a Toronto side who are still looking to put their footprint on this season after taking the MLS Cup home last year.
Juggling the stresses of their CONCACAF Champions League campaign, Toronto have only played twice so far in the 2018 MLS season but have been beaten on both occasions.
Returning to BMO Field with fresh legs after a derby day loss to Montreal Impact a couple of weeks ago should put them in the mood to collect their first win of the season.
However, like their first two games this year, it might not be that simple for the reigning MLS Cup champions.
Despite a heavy 5-1 defeat to LAFC in their second MLS game of the season, RSL bounced back in great fashion.
Welcoming New York Red Bulls to the Rio Tinto Stadium, after scoring a fourth minute penalty, Mike Petke’s side ground out a well deserved 1-0 win.
With a result like that against such strong opposition Petke will hope for more of the same tonight, with RSL winning three of the side’s five meetings that’s something that could well be possible.
Saturday 31st March
Orlando City vs New York Red Bulls
Still on the search for their first win of the season, Orlando City will do battle against a Red Bulls side who aren’t shy in front of goal.
Despite getting edged out by RSL a couple of weeks ago, they have already scored seven goals in three games this season.
That won’t comfort Orlando in the slightest who despite not conceding much, have a tough time outscoring teams with just the two goals this campaign.
With Red Bulls keeping clean sheets in two of their three games too it’s difficult to see Orlando coming out of this game with anything.
Especially if Bradley Wright-Phillips continues this quality of goalscoring and receives this quality of service:
Columbus Crew vs Vancouver Whitecaps
This fixture sees two early leaders of the 2018 MLS season meet as the Crew sit top of the Eastern Conference with the Whitecaps 2nd on goal difference in the West.
With both sides approaching this game confidently this should produce a real clash of the titans.
For the Crew, they’ll be looking to Fedrico Higuain and Gyasi Zardes as their points of attack after the former reached 50 goals and 50 assists for the club last weekend and Zardes kept making himself a nuisance for defences.
As for Vancouver, they’ll be encouraged by the return of Kei Kamara up front as he hopes to continue the strong start to the season he made.
LA Galaxy vs LAFC
The game on everyone’s lips is almost here and it shouldn’t disappoint.
The first ever El Trafico looked to be a tasty affair weeks ago but now it looks to be the must watch game of the weekend.
In the first ever LA derby game, LAFC are the new kids on the block who have yet to be stopped this season with two wins from as many games and star men Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi firing on all cylinders.
However, LA Galaxy may have been sleeping giants last year but with the introduction of this man that could all change:
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) March 30, 2018
Available to play, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s inclusion is almost guaranteed to push this game into box office status and with Galaxy and Ibra looking to prove a point be prepared for something special at the Stubhub Center.
Especially as Ibrahimovic carries a great track record for scoring in derbies with goals in the Manchester derby, Liverpool vs Manchester United, El Clasico and the Milan derby.
Chicago Fire vs Portland Timbers
For both sides, this game is a chance to finally give their fans something to cheer about after forgettable starts to the season.
After finishing last year’s regular season as the best in the West, Portland are still waiting on their first win of this season but with Chicago on a similar quest they may have to wait another week.
Unlike Portland, Chiacago have actually shown potential to win games this season. This was most apparent in their 4-3 loss to Sporting Kansas City when they took the lead in the 82nd minute but just couldn’t hold on.
However, returning to Toyota Park should give them confidence to go all the way this time.
Minnesota United vs Atlanta United
After a disappointing season opener, Atlanta United have responded very well with two very convincing victories over D.C. United and Vancouver Whitecaps.
Despite not playing last week, Tata Martino’s side have built some momentum that they’ll be looking to take into this game.
Also, in their second MLS season, Minnesota have started life in 2018 with a respectable start, taking two wins from their first four games.
Minnesota will be hoping to carry on the form of this season rather than last season though as 2017 saw them concede 70 games, with six of those coming in their meeting with Atlanta United last year.
With the five stripes in such good goalscoring form, that’ll be a great challenge to see if Minnesota have turned a corner since last season.
San Jose Earthquakes vs NYCFC
After El Trafico, this is probably one of the most exciting games of the weekend.
Both side’s have had impressive starts to their seasons, with NYCFC 2nd in the Eastern Conference and San Jose maintaining a 100% record after two games.
However, despite San Jose winning both of their matches so far this season, both games have ended with the tight scoreline of 3-2.
So it’s probably fair to expect a good number of goals as the hosts will look to keep that 100% record going and NYCFC will look to return to winning ways after their draw with New England Revolution last week.
Houston Dynamo vs New England Revolution
Picking up a draw against a team that has been heavily tipped for the play-offs this season could do Brad Freidel and the Revolution a world of good going into this weekend.
As well as scoring a couple, Friedel’s side did go ahead twice in the match and created enough chances to go away with all three points.
He’ll be hoping that they can take the same performance on the road to Houston where the Dynamo will be waiting for them.
After shocking everybody on the opening weekend of the season by thrashing Atlanta United, Houston haven’t quite hit those heights again.
They then travelled to Vancouver where they were met by an in-form Kei Kamara before letting a two-goal lead slip against FC Dallas, so a return to the BBVA Compass Stadium could help them get back on track.
Sporting Kansas City vs D.C. United
Sporting Kansas City are one of the teams that have taken the 2018 MLS season by storm very early on and should continue to do so this weekend.
SKC have been very attacking so far this season, scoring nine goals, but in those nine there was also some history made by new signing Felipe Gutierrez:
With Gutierrez in the side, helping SKC be even more explosive in front of goal, expect to see a few fly in this weekend.
However, despite SKC being very productive going forwards, they’re also quite open at the back which saw them drop points last week against Colorado Rapids.
With new star, Yamil Asad back in scoring form that could give D.C. United some hope of getting their first win of the campaign.
Colorado Rapids vs Philadelphia Union
For Colorado, they’ll be looking to build on last week’s draw against SKC having been in the driving seat for the majority of the game.
After two very early goals from Dominique Badji and Joe Mason they just weren’t able to hang on but facing a Philadelphia side that haven’t played in successive weeks yet this season could help them.
However, like Colorado, Philadelphia have taken points off a top team in Columbus Crew this season so they’ll travel West knowing that they have what it takes to come away from the game with something.
Seattle Sounders vs Montreal Impact
The final game of the round sees Seattle Sounders welcome Montreal Impact as they look to rediscover their past success.
So far, this season hasn’t been the best for the Sounders as despite a strong MLS Cup campaign last year, they’re still searching for their first win this term.
This mountain could be even harder to climb this week as even though they’re back in front of their home crowd, they’ll be without the suspended Clint Dempsey.
Looking to taking advantage of that are Montreal Impact who will be believing they can go toe-for-toe with anyone in the league after beating rivals and MLS Cup champions, Toronto FC last time out.
With Remi Garde now underway when it comes to winning, we’ll see if that confidence boost will help his side sink Seattle Sounders even further this weekend.