MLS Picks for Sunday March 12
It’s soccer Sunday, which means we’ve got three MLS games on tap. The action kicks off at 1pm ET when NYCFC hosts DC United in the former’s home opener. The two expansion clubs will also square off when Atlanta United travels to face Minnesota United, and the nightcap features a Western Conference clash between the Portland Timbers and LA Galaxy.
How will the three games shake out?
Despite being two of MLS’ more goal-happy sides in 2016, neither DC United nor NYCFC were able to find the back of the net in their respective 2017 openers. NYC was beaten 1-0 by a shorthanded Orlando City club, while DC United and Sporting KC played to a scoreless draw at RFK Stadium.
Now, Yankee Stadium will play host to two clubs hoping for bigger and better things this season. NYCFC certainly has plenty of firepower with returning league MVP David Villa and newcomer Maxi Moralez slotting into the 11 in central midfield. Both players had chances to find the score sheet last week in Orlando, but neither was able to make it happen.
DC, on the other hand, played one of the more exciting 0-0 games you’ll ever see. They should’ve found a tally on the scoreboard after drawing a penalty in the first half, but Marcelo Sarvas had his shot saved by KC keeper Tim Melia. KC nearly found their first goal just a few minutes later, but DC was able to keep the game level thanks to a world class, diving save by keeper Bill Hamid.
United have never won in their two previous trips to Yankee Stadium, and they may have a rough go again this week against an NYCFC side hungry to establish themselves as one of the league’s elite.
MLS’ two newest clubs go head-to-head at 4pm ET from TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis with Minnesota United hosting Atlanta United.
Both teams were able to score in their league debuts last week, though both wound up coming out on the losing end of their respective battles. Minnesota hung tough in one of the league’s toughest environments at Providence Park in Portland last week before faltering late. The Loons fell down 2-0 before Christian Ramirez pulled one back for MNUFC’s first MLS goal.
Things fell apart from there, though, as Portland would go on to score three more times in the game’s final 10 minutes to give Minnesota a 5-1 defeat.
Atlanta United actually found themselves leading powerhouse New York Red Bulls for much of their home opener, but two late goals from the visitors saw ATL suffer its first setback. Yamil Asad scored in the first half before Josef Martinez was denied Atlanta’s second at point-blank range in the second.
However, NY’s Daniel Royer scored on a header from a corner in the 77th minute before an own goal from Anton Walkes ultimately cost the home side the game.
The Loons should be fired up to play in front of a massive, raucous crowd in this one, though Atlanta has a pretty clear talent edge. Regardless, pulling out wins on the road in this league is a tough task, and Atlanta is hardly battle-tested as of yet.
The nightcap features two clubs that saw very different results in week one. The Timbers are riding high off a 5-1 victory over expansion Minnesota United, while the Galaxy suffered a 2-1 setback at home against FC Dallas last Saturday afternoon.
LA will come into this one rather shorthanded, as well. Jermaine Jones was handed a suspension for dangerous play after a questionable tackle during last week’s game. Defender Dave Romney was also suspended for this game after the league determined that he embellished contact on what was ruled a penalty against FCD.
Considering this is a team incorporating a bunch of new faces, suspensions are exactly what the Galaxy didn’t need coming into this one. Still, the Galaxy have been one of the more dominant home teams in MLS over the last several years. LA is 43-7-19 at StubHub Center over the last five seasons with a goal differential of +92.
While the Timbers enjoyed some fireworks at home last week, they’re going to have to address the road woes that plagued them during the 2016 campaign. Portland didn’t win a single game away from Providence Park last season, which is a mark they’re certainly going to have to improve upon if they want to get back into the MLS Cup playoffs.
The Timbers went 0-6-11 on the road last season, and that included a 1-1 draw against Los Angeles last April.
They may not be able to earn a win in this spot, but the Timbers should be able to at least earn a share of the points with the Galaxy missing a few key cogs.