MLS Preview and Prediction: LA Galaxy vs San Jose Earthquakes

Competition: Major League Soccer – LA Galaxy vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Venue: StubHub Center – Saturday, March 19 – 22:30 ET (02:30 GMT)

Match Odds: LA Galaxy 1/2 – Draw 16/5 – SJ Earthquakes 11/2

Match Preview

LA Galaxy host San Jose Earthquakes in the first California Clasico match of 2016 on Saturday night, with the Quakes looking to continue their impressive start to the new campaign against their fierce rivals.

LA followed up their 4-1 opening day win over DC with a disappointing 1-0 defeat in Colorado last weekend. They conceded in the fifth minute of stoppage time and will have been left deflated after putting in a solid performance on the road.

Bruce Arena knows his team are much stronger at home and will be desperate to see his side pick up a second win of the campaign on Saturday.

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With the quality and experience in the Galaxy side, they should be able to manage the occasion of a big derby and will expect to beat San Jose.

The Quakes are not to be taken lightly, however. Dominic Kinnear has watched his side beat Colorado and Portland through the first two weeks – the first time San Jose has won its first two games of an MLS season in franchise history.

They will be hoping to keep momentum building but a trip to StubHub Center is always a tricky one. San Jose haven’t won away at the Galaxy since 2012, although a victory here would really solidify their chances of success this term.

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The home side won each of the three regular season meetings last season, with the Galaxy recording a 5-2 victory in the only game at StubHub Center – the most goals scored in a California Clasico game in the 20-year history of the rivalry.

More goals could be on the cards here as the Galaxy will be out to show they are still a team to be feared across MLS. San Jose will look to exploit that on the counter-attack in what could be an exciting contest.

Team News

LA Galaxy will continue to be without goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, so Brian Rowe will continue between the sticks. Giovani Dos Santos is still a doubt, while the same applies to Alan Gordon, Jeff Larentowicz and Leonardo. Mike Magee will hope to start for a second consecutive week alongside Robbie Keane.

San Jose are without six players for the trip to LA. Marc Pelosi, Cordell Cato, Jordan Stewart, Chad Barrett, Shaun Francis and Andres Imperiale will all miss out once again as Dominic Kinnear looks set to name an unchanged side to the one that beat Portland last weekend.

Key Points

LA Galaxy’s form: W/L

San Jose Earthquakes’ form: W/W

Key Stat: LA Galaxy are unbeaten in four-straight home games against San Jose Earthquakes (W2 D2).

Key Player: Robbie Keane – The Irish forward scored a hat-trick in this fixture last season and will be hoping to find the net again on Saturday. He netted in the Galaxy’s opening game and always plays better at StubHub Center. He is a constant threat to opposing defences and will look to cause San Jose problems from the outset.

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Score Prediction

LA Galaxy 2-1 San Jose Earthquakes – This should be a close contest but LA Galaxy have to be favoured at home. The Quakes will expect to hurt them but will likely come up just short in what should be an exciting game.

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MLS Preview and Prediction: Seattle Sounders vs Vancouver Whitecaps

Competition: Major League Soccer – Seattle Sounders vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

Venue: CenturyLink Field – Saturday, March 19 – 22:00 ET (02:00 GMT)

Match Odds: Seattle 21/20 – Draw 5/2 – Vancouver 5/2

Match Preview

Seattle Sounders host Vancouver Whitecaps in the first Cascadia rivalry clash of the 2016 season, with both sides looking to put their first points on the board after a poor start to the campaign.

Both sides have lost their opening two games and will be desperate for a win here to stop problems from worsening. Beating fierce rivals would be a real boost for either and so there’s plenty at stake in their early-season clash.

Seattle fell 1-0 at home to Sporting Kansas City in their opener, before losing 2-1 to Real Salt Lake last weekend. Both results will have disappointed Sigi Schmid but he need to rally his side to bounce back here.

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The visit of Vancouver is sure to be a testing one, especially as the away side has emerged victorious in each of the last four regular season meeting between these clubs. Seattle need to give the home crowd something to celebrate early to try and set the tone.

The Whitecaps will be hugely disappointed to have lost both games so far. Their 3-2 defeat to Montreal was followed up by a 2-1 loss in Kansas City last Saturday and Carl Robinson knows his team need to shore up defensively very quickly.

Vancouver were excellent at the back last year but have conceded five in their first two and have already seen both Ignacio Piatti and Dom Dwyer net braces against them through the first two weeks.

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The Whitecaps did win last season’s only regular season game in Seattle by an emphatic 3-0 scoreline, although the Sounders recorded victories in both games at BC Place. The home side has struggled in this fixture of late and so Vancouver will be confident of leaving with at least a point.

Both clubs have already received a red card this term and need to keep their discipline to prevent this rivalry from getting out of hand on Saturday evening.

Team News

Seattle will be without defensive duo Brad Evans and Roman Torres once again here, while Erik Friberg is also still sidelined through injury. Goalkeeper Stefan Frei is a doubt, as are Michael Farfan, Nelson Valdez and Jordan Morris, though both Valdez and Morris are expected to be fit.

Vancouver have two suspensions to worry about as they head to CenturyLink Field. Jordan Smith will sit out after being sent off in last week’s loss to SKC, while Kianz Froese has been given a one-game suspension by the MLS Disciplinary Committee. Christian Dean and Russell Teibert remain injured, while Kekuta Manneh is a doubt as he is struggling with an ankle injury.

Key Points

Seattle Sounders’ form: L/L

Vancouver Whitecaps’ form: L/L

Key Stat: The Sounders have lost three-straight home matches to Vancouver in MLS and have been outscored 1-8 in that time.

Key Player: Clint Dempsey – The Seattle star has had a slow start to 2016 but will hope to get his first goal of the campaign at home to Cascadia rivals on Saturday night. He can turn any game on its head in an instant, and needs to start producing the goods for the Sounders if they are to pick up positive results.

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Score Prediction

Seattle Sounders 1-1 Vancouver Whitecaps – It’s too difficult to separate these sides heading into this important game. Both will be desperate to stop the rot as far as losses are concerned and that could lead to a cagey affair. A draw would get both sides off the mark and so that looks the most likely result between two teams that have looked far from convincing so far.

MLS Preview and Prediction: New York City FC vs Orlando City

Competition: Major League Soccer – New York City FC vs. Orlando City SC

Venue: Yankee Stadium – Friday, March 18 – 19:00 ET (23:00 GMT – Live on Sky Sports) 

Match Odds: NYCFC 11/10 – Draw 5/2 – Orlando 23/10

Match Preview

New York City FC welcome Orlando City to Yankee Stadium on Friday evening in what should be a highly entertaining Eastern Conference clash between the league’s two newest franchises.

Both sides have started the new season without a loss and will hope to extend their unbeaten runs to three on Friday, although both will be out for victory.

New York City followed up their 4-3 win over Chicago with a 2-2 draw against Toronto last Sunday. That result wasn’t bad by any stretch, but throwing away a two-goal lead will have left Patrick Vieira feeling a little disappointed.

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The home fans will be hoping for three points from Friday’s game and will be confident, especially as NYCFC beat Orlando 5-3 in last year’s meeting at Yankee Stadium.

Orlando are still looking for a first win of the new campaign after back-to-back draws in their first two outings. Adrian Heath will be frustrated that his side failed to pick up a win considering both matches have been at the Citrus Bowl so far.

The dramatic 2-2 opening day draw with Real Salt Lake was impressive given how late the Lions scored their goals, but last week’s 1-1 tie with a 10-man Chicago Fire team was disappointing.

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Orlando now have the chance to take points off fellow Eastern Conference playoff chasers and will hope that their first road trip of the new season proves to be valuable.

These two clubs met three times last year. They drew 1-1 on the opening weekend of last season, before both clubs won on home soil. NYCFC beat Orlando 5-3 at Yankee Stadium before the Lions responded with a 2-1 victory in October.

Team News

Patrick Vieira will remain without the services of Connor Brandt, Jack Harrison and RJ Allen as all three are still nursing injuries. Frank Lampard is still a doubt but is edging closer to a return, while the same applies for Andoni Iraola and Jefferson Mena, who could both be back in contention. It will be interesting to see if Vieira goes with a three-man defence again, as he did against Toronto FC.

Orlando are still sweating over the fitness of Kaka. The Brazilian has yet to feature this season and isn’t expected to make Friday’s game either. Conor Donovan, David Mateos, Carlos Rivas and Bryan Rochez also remain sidelined.

Key Points

NYCFC’s form: W/D

Orlando City’s form: D/D

Key Stat: There were 13 goals in the three clashes between these sides last season – an average of 4.3 goals-per-game. Entertainment.

Key Player: Cyle Larin – The Orlando forward has started the new season with two goals in two games and looks as dangerous as he did last term. He now has eight goals in his last six MLS starts and will look to hurt a vulnerable NYCFC defence on Friday night.

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Score Prediction

New York City FC 2-2 Orlando City – This should be another high-scoring clash between Major League Soccer’s two newest sides. There were eight goals in the clash at Yankee Stadium last term, and while that total might not be matched, both will feel confident of hurting the opposing defence. It’s tough to separate them on paper and so a score draw looks to be the most likely outcome for this week’s opening game.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Sporting Kansas City vs Vancouver Whitecaps

Competition: Major League Soccer – Sporting Kansas City vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

Venue: Children’s Mercy Park – Saturday, March 12 – 20:30 ET (01:30 GMT)

Match Odds: Sporting Kansas City 19/20 – Draw 12/5 – Vancouver Whitecaps 3/1

Match Preview

Sporting Kansas City take on the Vancouver Whitecaps in an all Western Conference MLS clash at Sporting Park on Saturday night.

SKC picked up an excellent 1-0 away win against the Seattle Sounders in their opening game last weekend thanks to an unlikely debut goal from centre-back Nuno Coelho.

Although the Sounders were reduced to ten men after 41 minutes, Peter Vermes will still be delighted to see his side pick up an extremely valuable three points at a ground where few teams tend to win in MLS.

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It should mean that SKC will be heading into this game full of confidence, and will be looking to win their first two games of an MLS season for the first time since 2012.

Vancouver Whitecaps provided one of the most entertaining games of the opening weekend, although they will be disappointed to be on the wrong end of a five-goal thriller as they lost 3-2 at home to Montreal Impact.

Goals from defenders Jordan Harvey and Kendall Watson couldn’t prevent a disappointing defeat, and the Whitecaps players have to quickly dust themselves down in preparation for a tough away game.

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Carl Robinson’s side have won just one of their last nine games in MLS (D3, L5), carrying over results from 2015, so he will be hoping they can find some form, starting here.

Sporting Kansas City won both games against Vancouver Whitecaps in 2015, with the most recent clash ending 4-3 in a pulsating contest at Sporting Park in August – the other victory was a narrow 1-0 success at BC Place in July.

Team News

Sporting Kansas City have a whole host of injury concerns. They are likely to be without defenders Ike Opara (thigh) and Seth Sinovic (neck), while midfielders Justin Mapp (toe), Brad Davis (groin), Benny Feilhaber (abdomen) and Paulo Nagamura (leg) are also expected to miss out.

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Vancouver Whitecaps won’t be able to call upon the injured Christian Dean (foot) and Russell Teibert (calf). Octavio Rivero was the club’s top goalscorer in 2015 and will be looking to open his account for 2016. He managed six shots, with four on-target last weekend, but to no avail.

Key Points

Sporting Kansas City’s MLS form: W

Vancouver Whitecaps’ MLS form: L

Key Stat: Vancouver Whitecaps have never won away at Sporting Kansas City (D1, L2).

Key Player: Dom Dwyer – SKC will be desperate for their striker to start firing on all cylinders this year. He was the leading goalscorer at the club last season with 12 goals, but you feel that any true success this year could hinge on what Dwyer can produce for his side. They’ll be hopeful he can contribute a number of goals closer to the 22 he scored in 2014. The first home game of the new season may provide the perfect platform.

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Score Prediction

Sporting Kansas City 2-2 Vancouver Whitecaps – SKC have never lost a game at home to the Whitecaps and will be full of confidence after their opening day win. But Vancouver have a potent attacking force and will believe they can take at least a point from this one. Whatever the outcome, this should be an entertaining clash.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Montreal Impact vs New York Red Bulls

Competition: Major League Soccer – Montreal Impact vs. New York Red Bulls

Venue: Montreal Olympic Stadium – Saturday, March 12 – 16:00 ET (21:00 GMT)

Match Odds: Montreal Impact 7/5 – Draw 12/5 – New York Red Bulls 15/8

Match Preview

Montreal Impact host New York Red Bulls at the Olympic Stadium for the second game of the 2016 MLS season on Saturday afternoon in an all Eastern Conference clash.

The Impact enjoyed an excellent opening day 3-2 victory away at Canadian rivals Vancouver Whitecaps last weekend, thanks to two goals from Ignacio Piatti and a Dominic Oduro strike.

Mauro Biello will be delighted with the performance of his players, and that win will send out a signal to the rest of the league that Montreal mean business in 2016 and will be out to prove that last year’s surge to the playoffs was no fluke.

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That win at Vancouver also showed that the Impact are more than capable of coping without talisman Didier Drogba who undoubtedly transformed the team towards the end of 2015.

New York Red Bulls suffered a disappointing 2-0 defeat at home to Toronto in their first game and will be looking to bounce back immediately on Saturday.

Despite dominating the play with 63% possession and making 220 more passes than their opponents, the Red Bulls only managed one shot-on-target, with ten off target, which will be a major concern for Jesse Marsch.

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The 2015 Supporters’ Shield winners were the highest goalscorers in MLS last year and will be hoping that their opening day blues were just a case of rustiness and lack of competitive action.

The last meeting between these two sides saw the Red Bulls edge a 2-1 home victory in October 2015, while the last clash in Montreal ended with a 1-1 draw in August 2015.

Team News

Montreal Impact will be without long-term absentee Andres Romero (knee), as well as Patrice Bernier and Cameron Porter (both hamstring). Didier Drogba will also miss the game as he’s struggling with a knee injury and doesn’t want to risk making it worse by playing on artificial turf.

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New York Red Bulls defender Damien Perrinelle remains out (knee), while forward Gonzalo Veron (hamstring) is also struggling with injury. Bradley Wright-Phillips will be hoping to find some form after not even registering a shot last weekend.

Key Points

Montreal Impact’s MLS form: W

New York Red Bulls’ MLS form: L

Key Stat: Since Mauro Biello took over as Montreal head coach in August 2015, the Impact have lost just three games in MLS – P15, W10, D2, L3 (including the MLS Cup playoffs).

Key Player: Ignacio Piatti – The Argentinian was inspirational in their away win at Vancouver last weekend, playing a part in all three goals, scoring two and assisting the other. There’s no doubting that the Red Bulls are going to have to work hard to stop Piatti if they want to head home with anything from this game.

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Score Prediction

Montreal Impact 2-1 New York Red Bulls – Montreal were very impressive against Vancouver, and while the Red Bulls played well in stages in their game, they just couldn’t break Toronto down. They’ll probably get on the scoresheet this time around, but it may not be enough to stop the Impact from making it two wins on the bounce and inflicting consecutive defeats on the 2015 Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield winners.

Podcast: MLS opening weekend, NYCFC’s defensive woes & West Ham discussed

In this week’s MLSGB Podcast, Zack Walford sits down with Louis East and Jamie Ives to look back at an incredible opening weekend of MLS action as the 2016 campaign got off to a flyer.

The team will discuss whether New York City FC should be deeply worried about their defensive struggles, despite winning on Sunday, and will finish with a look at in-form Premier League side West Ham United, who are chasing a top four spot.

Be sure to comment below, or get in touch on Twitter with your views on the topics discussed.

MLS Opening Weekend: 30 interesting stats from Sunday’s ten games

The opening weekend of the 2016 Major League Soccer season is upon us, so here is a look at a few stats to be aware of ahead of what should be an excellent evening of MLS action.

Sunday 6th March

New York Red Bulls vs Toronto FC – (18:30 GMT)

  • New York Red Bulls are unbeaten against Toronto FC in their last eight home matches against the Canadian side.
  • Including the playoffs, New York Red Bulls have won 11 of their last 12 at Red Bull Arena.
  • On the other hand, Toronto FC haven’t won on the road in MLS since 4th July, a total of nine away fixtures.

For more information read our New York Red Bulls vs Toronto FC Match Preview.

New York Red Bulls vs. DC United

Orlando City vs Real Salt Lake – (19:00 GMT)

  • Orlando City finished the 2015 MLS Season on a six-game unbeaten streak, with four wins and two draws.
  • Real Salt Lake finished the 2015 MLS season on a three-game losing streak, managing just one goal in the process.
  • However, Real Salt Lake are unbeaten in six consecutive MLS opening games, with five wins and one draw.

For more information read our Orlando City vs Real Salt Lake Match Preview.

Chicago Fire vs New York City FC – (19:00 GMT) – Live on Sky Sports 1

  • Chicago Fire lost seven of their last eight matches in the 2015 season, winning the other.
  • New York City FC won only once in their last eight away games of last season, losing six of them.
  • Chicago haven’t won on the opening day for the last six seasons, as they’be endured four losses and two draws.

For more information read our Chicago Fire vs New York City FC Match Preview.

FC Dallas vs Philadelphia Union – (20:00 GMT)

  • Philadelphia have never beaten FC Dallas in Major League Soccer.
  • FC Dallas have won four season openers in MLS in a row.
  • FC Dallas won the most matches at home in MLS last season, with a total of 13 out of 17.

For more information read our FC Dallas vs Philadelphia Union Match Preview.

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

Houston Dynamo vs New England Revolution – (20:00 GMT)

  • Houston Dynamo have lost to the New England Revolution on three consecutive occasions – run that started in April 2014.
  • Houston Dynamo have lost just once in their last ten home matches in MLS, with seven wins and two draws.
  • New England Revolution conceded 35 times on the road last season – their worst away defensive record since 1998.

For more information read our Houston Dynamo vs New England Revolution Match Preview.

San Jose Earthquakes vs Colorado Rapids – (20:00 GMT)

  • San Jose Earthquakes are unbeaten in 12 consecutive matches against the Colorado Rapids, winning six and drawing six.
  • San Jose haven’t conceded at home against the Colorado Rapids since May 2013.
  • Colorado Rapids have lost four of their last five away matches in MLS, winning the other.

For more information read our San Jose Earthquakes vs Colorado Rapids Match Preview.

Portland Timbers vs Columbus Crew – (21:30 GMT) – Live on Sky Sports 1

  • Including the MLS Cup Final last year, Portland Timbers are unbeaten in their last three matches against Columbus Crew.
  • Including the postseason, Portland Timbers are unbeaten in their last nine consecutive MLS matches, winning six and drawing three.
  • Columbus Crew won five of their last six 2015 MLS regular season games.

For more information read our Portland Timbers vs Columbus Crew Match Preview.

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Vancouver Whitecaps vs Montreal Impact – (22:30 GMT)

  • Vancouver had the joint best defence in Major League Soccer in 2015, conceding only 36 goals.
  • Montreal Impact won their final two matches away from home in the regular season last term but lost nine of the 15 previous road trips.
  • Octavio Rivero was the Whitecaps’ leading goalscorer with ten last season. He is only the fourth player in Whitecaps history to reach double-digits in a single season.

For more information read our Vancouver Whitecaps vs Montreal Impact Match Preview.

Monday 7th March (UK Time)

Seattle Sounders vs Sporting Kansas City – (00:00 GMT)

  • Seattle Sounders haven’t won against Sporting Kansas City in their last three attempts, drawing twice and losing once.
  • At home, Sounders are undefeated in all four MLS matches against Sporting Kansas City, winning twice and drawing twice.
  • Seattle are unbeaten in their last seven MLS outings. They’ve won six of those seven, drawing the other.

For more information read our Seattle Sounders vs Sporting Kansas City Match Preview.

Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas Fans

LA Galaxy vs DC United – (03:00 GMT)

  • DC have only won once in their last eleven matches against LA Galaxy, drawing five and losing the other five.
  • LA are unbeaten in their last eight home matches against DC United, recording four wins and four draws.
  • DC United only managed to score nine away goals in the regular season in 2015 – a league low for the season.

For more information read our LA Galaxy vs DC United Match Preview.

What are you most looking forward to on the opening day of the 2016 MLS season?

MLS Preview and Prediction: LA Galaxy vs DC United

Competition: Major League Soccer – LA Galaxy vs. DC United

Venue: StubHub Center – Sunday, March 6 – 22:00 ET (03:00 GMT)

Match Odds: LA Galaxy 1/2 – Draw 100/30 – DC United 11/2

Match Preview

LA Galaxy and DC United clash at the StubHub Center on Sunday night as the opening day of the 2016 season sees the two most successful sides in MLS history going head-to-head.

The Galaxy will be desperate to put things right this year after 2015’s fifth placed Western Conference finish was their lowest since 2008.

Their competitive season is already underway as they had their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal with Mexican side Santos Laguna.

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Despite a 0-0 draw at home in the first leg, Bruce Arena saw his side crash out of the competition after a 4-0 defeat in the second leg, but they can now focus all their attention on making sure of a good start to the MLS campaign.

Before their CCL tie, the Galaxy played five preseason fixtures, winning two, losing two and drawing one, including a 1-0 victory over MLS rivals San Jose Earthquakes.

DC United also had a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal to contend with, following a preseason which saw them win just one of five games (D2, L2).

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Ben Olsen’s side suffered a similar fate to their opponents, losing 2-0 away from home in the first leg of their tie with Queretaro, before being held to a 1-1 draw at RFK Stadium, which saw them eliminated on aggregate.

DC’s only win in preseason was a 1-0 win over NASL side Tampa Bay Rowdies, meaning that their preparation for this campaign hasn’t exactly been ideal but now it’s time to step it up in MLS.

The only meeting between these two sides in 2015 saw DC United edge a 1-0 home victory thanks to an injury time goal by Chris Pontius, which marked first time DC had beaten LA in MLS since 2008 after 10 attempts (D5, L5).

Team News

LA Galaxy defender Leonardo (leg), new midfielder Jeff Larentowicz (groin) and striker Alan Gordon (neck) are all injury doubts and will be working hard to try and make the squad. New signings Ashley Cole and Nigel De Jong could make their debuts in MLS.

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DC United will be without goalkeeper Bill Hamid who has a long-term knee injury, while defender Chris Korb is also out with a knee problem. Midfielder Marcelo Sarvas is set to face his old club – he had a two-year spell with the Galaxy between 2012 and 2014.

Key Points

LA Galaxy’s preseason form: W/L/D/W/L

DC United’s preseason form: L/D/W/D/L

Key Stat: DC United have only won two of their last 15 away games in MLS (D3, L10).

Key Player: Robbie Keane – The Irishman was LA Galaxy’s top goalscorer last season with an impressive 20 goals in 24 games. As club captain, he leads by example and his input will be crucial once again. He can make the difference in the blinking of an eye.

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Score Prediction

LA Galaxy 2-1 DC United – The last meeting between these sides at StubHub Center saw the Galaxy win 4-1 in 2014. DC’s last away victory over LA was way back in 2005. This should be a tight game, but LA Galaxy will fancy their chances of continuing their strong record at home to DC United over the last 11 years.

MLS Preview and Prediction: FC Dallas vs Philadelphia Union

Competition: Major League Soccer – FC Dallas vs. Philadelphia Union

Venue: Toyota Stadium – Sunday, March 6 – 15:00 ET (20:00 GMT)

Match Odds: Dallas 8/13 – Draw 14/5 – Philadelphia 9/2

Match Preview

FC Dallas welcome Philadelphia Union to Toyota Stadium on Sunday as both sides look to get their 2016 MLS season off to a winning start.

This is a clash which matches up two teams that had completely contrasting season’s in 2015 as Dallas topped the Western Conference, and only New York Red Bulls got as many points as them across the whole of MLS (60).

Meanwhile, Philadelphia Union struggled in the Eastern Conference, finishing ninth with just 37 points as only Chicago Fire ended with a lower final tally.

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But 2016 provides a chance to wipe the slate clean and Dallas will be desperate to get off to a positive start as they begin the long marathon that is the hunt for the Supporters’ Shield title and road to the MLS Playoffs.

Oscar Pareja’s side enjoyed a successful preseason, winning all three of the games they played, including a 2-1 success over New England Revolution.

Dallas have welcomed talented Argentinian forward Maxi Urruti from the Portland Timbers in an attempt to bolster an already strong squad – he bagged two goals in preseason and will be hoping to continue his good start to life in Texas.

Philadelphia Union have been hard at work in preseason with six games in total, winning two, drawing two and losing two, although their most recent fixture was a 1-0 success over Toronto.

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Jim Curtin’s squad has a very different look about it compared to last year with a whole host of changes, so his main job will be trying to get this team to click as quickly as possible.

Perhaps the most promising addition is midfielder Chris Pontius who joins from DC United – the Union will be hoping he brings a stability to the team that will help them challenge for a playoff finish this year.

The only meeting between these two sides in 2015 saw Dallas come away with a 2-0 win from Philadelphia’s PPL Park thanks to goals from Tesho Akindele and Ryan Hollingshead.

Team News

FC Dallas have no injury concerns heading into their season opener, meaning Oscar Pareja has a full squad to choose from and will be expecting his side to be at their best right from the off. Rookie Timo Pitter will be pushing for a place in the squad after being the top goalscorer in preseason with three goals from midfield.

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Maurice Edu (hernia) and Tranquillo Barnetta (knee) are both injury doubts for Philadelphia Union. There is likely to be a number of players making their debuts for the Union, including Chris Pontius and Roland Alberg.

Key Points

FC Dallas’ preseason form: W/W/W

Philadelphia Union’s preseason form: L/L/D/W/D/W

Key Stat: Philadelphia Union have never won a game against FC Dallas in MLS (P8, D4, L4).

Key Player: Fabian Castillo – The young Colombian was a once again a key player for Dallas in 2015 with nine goals and nine assists from 30 appearances and if he can hit the ground running, the Union may struggle to keep him at bay.

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Score Prediction

FC Dallas 2-1 Philadelphia Union – FC Dallas had the best home record in MLS in 2015, winning 13 of their 17 home games, amassing 41 points from a possible 51, as well as losing just twice. It’s a tough ask for the Union to get a result on the opening day, but they’ll certainly put up a tough fight to prove otherwise.

13 lesser-known Englishmen to watch in MLS in 2016

By Jamie Dawe 

Over the past year, three legends of English football by the names of Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard have decided to start to wind down their careers in California and New York respectively. Fellow Premier League stalwarts of old, such as Liam Ridgewell and Shaun Wright-Phillips have also made their moves to MLS in recent time. Most Premier League fans will be fully aware of these well-known and well publicised moves to the States, but many other Englishman have sailed across the Atlantic completely unnoticed. It’s about time that some of these players get the recognition they deserve. These players all have their own interesting stories to tell – one played for a national team that they were ineligible for, one broke the MLS record for the most goals in a season and one even won the FA Youth Cup in 2013!

So read on to find out some of the other English names you should be looking out for in 2016 and beyond…

Norwich’s Neymar – Dom Dwyer

Current Club: Sporting Kansas City

Joined MLS: 2012

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A youth career with Norwich City ended when he was told he would never physically recover enough from his third foot break to play professional football. He was subsequently spotted by US college scouts and given a full scholarship at Tyler Junior College in Texas. He moved to the University of South Florida in 2011 and was picked at No. 16 in the 2012 SuperDraft by SKC – where he has been ever since. A total of 61 goals in 103 career games – including 36 in MLS for SKC – shows his incredible striking ability. At 5ft 9ins he relies on power and speed to blast past his opponents rather than being a traditional No. 9. He created a formidable partnership with former Liverpool player Krisztian Nemeth last season but will need to lead the attack more independently in 2016 – something he should be capable of doing effectively.

The Former U21 Star – Jordan Stewart

Current Club: San Jose Earthquakes

Joined MLS: 2013

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The 34-year-old left-back has been in California ever since he left Coventry City in 2013. He has led a successful career, playing in the Premier League for Watford and Leicester as well as recording Championship and League 1 appearances with Bristol Rovers, Derby County, Sheffield United and Notts County. He also enjoyed a lone season at Greek Superleague side Skoda Xanthi. During his six seasons in the first team at Leicester, he achieved an appearance with the England U21 squad as well as four with the U18 group. He will be hoping for another solid campaign in San Jose this year.

The Other Brother – Bradley Wright-Phillips

Current Club: New York Red Bulls

Joined MLS: 2013

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Bradley Wright-Phillips joined MLS a full two years before his older brother Shaun. In his career leading up to the move stateside he played for Manchester City, Southampton, Charlton, Brentford and the side that I have devoted my life to, Plymouth Argyle. A grand total of 131 career goals with 51 for the Red Bulls (an MLS record-setting 27 goals in a single season included in that) prove that BWP is a true goalscorer and he has thrived since joining the league in 2013.

The Non-League Struggler – Luke Mulholland

Current Club: Real Salt Lake

Joined MLS: 2014

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Mullholland started his career with non-league side Lancaster City, who were on the verge of bankruptcy at the time. He managed to escape to college soccer in 2007 and made his professional debut in 2010 for the Wilmington Hammerheads in the USL. After a failed trial with New England Revolution in 2011, it took Mulholland three more years to fulfill his ambition of playing in MLS when he signed for RSL in 2014. He has become a key part of the team since and will hope to be an important player in 2016.

The Sunshine State Boys – Luke Boden, Seb Hines and Harrison Heath

Current Club: Orlando City SC

Joined MLS: 2015

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All three of these players were part of Orlando City’s inaugural season last term, however, they all took significantly different paths to reach the club. Luke Boden joined Orlando in 2011 when they were a USL side, after being released from his boyhood club Sheffield Wednesday. Since then, he has been an integral part of the OCSC set up and has played 112 games for the team in the two different divisions. Seb Hines moved to MLS from Middlesbrough, initially on loan a year ago, but made the deal permanent when his contract at the Riverside expired in July. Harrison Heath is the 19-year-old son of Lions boss Adrian Heath and was part of the FA Youth Cup winning Norwich City side in 2013, before moving to the US to link up with his father. Both Boden and Heath have US Green Cards – meaning they are seen as domestic players on MLS rosters.

The Accidental Jamaican – Tyrone Mears

Current Club: Seattle Sounders

Joined MLS: 2015

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At the peak of his career, former Bolton, Derby, Burnley and Marseille player Tyrone Mears was rumoured to be on the brink of an England call-up. However, an appearance for the Jamaican national side in 2009 meant he was committed to play for Jamaica until the end of time (except he was never eligible to play for Jamaica as he thought his estranged father was Jamaican, even though he turned out to be from Sierra Leone). Fast forward to 2016 and Mears is entering his second season with the Sounders as their starting right-back after coming off of a 28-appearance debut campaign last year. He will hope to help Seattle to success this year and beyond.

The New SuperDraft Signings – Jack Harrison, Ben Polk & Paul Clowes

Current Clubs: NYCFC, Portland Timbers and DC United

Joined MLS: 2016

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All three of these players were picked within the first two rounds of the 2016 MLS SuperDraft – at No. 1, 20 and 32 respectively. Harrison (pictured at top of article) spent his youth career with the Manchester United academy, whereas Clowes spent his youth career on the blue side of the city. Ben Polk has a British mother and lived in the UK between the ages of 10-19, training with Oxford United’s youth sides and playing for Banbury United in the seventh tier of English football at age 17. Now all three will hope to make a splash in MLS as they start their professional careers.

The Portuguese Shot-Stopper – Matt Jones

Current Club: Philadelphia Union

Joined MLS: 2016

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Stoke-on-Trent-born Matt Jones is only on loan to the Union from Portuguese side Belenenses, but he is British through and through. His youth career consisted of appearances for the youth sides of Port Vale and West Bromwich Albion, which lasted until he decided to play college soccer for Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. He spent one season in the fourth tier of US Soccer, after which he moved to Portugal to play for Second Division side Santa Clara. Since then, he has ventured around Portugal, playing for Madeira, Belenenses and Tondela as well as recording 29 league appearances for Santa Clara. At 6ft 3ins and at age 29, he has the command and experience of a true leader in goal and will hope for an opportunity to prove his worth in Philadelphia this year.

The Liverpudlian Lionel Messi – Rob Vincent

Current Club: DC United

Joined MLS: 2016

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After spending his formative years with Everton, Crewe Alexandra and Stockport County, Vincent took the opportunity to play college soccer in the States for the University of Charleston. After college, he moved to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in the USL and has excelled over the past three seasons, finally being signed by DC United this winter. He plays in an attacking midfielder role and at 5ft 9ins and with 24 goals in 78 games – the only fair comparison is (obviously?!) to Lionel Messi! He is the most recent addition to this exclusive group of English stars plying their trade in the MLS and could make an impression with DC in 2016.

This group of English players make up the national contingent that are performing in the top divison of soccer in the US. However, there are many other English players in the leagues below MLS that are striving to reach the top.

Below is my MLS dream team of English-born players currently in MLS. Is there anyone you think deserved to be in this side that isn’t?

My best XI of Englishman playing in MLS in 2016. Via Lineupbuilder.com

My best XI of Englishman playing in MLS in 2016. Via Lineupbuilder.com