Wayne Rooney and DC have playoffs in sight ahead of pivotal clash with Montreal

DC United’s upturn in form has been stunning since former England captain Wayne Rooney crossed the Atlantic to bolster their offensive ranks. The all-time leading England and Man Utd goal scorer joined a DC side sitting bottom of the Eastern Conference, with a miserable record when it came to goals, shots on target and chances created. But he has dragged them up to seventh in the standings and was instrumental once again as they drew 3-3 with conference leaders New York Red Bulls at the weekend. DC United now stand on the brink of a playoff spot and they will bid to further those claims when they take on Montreal Impact on Saturday.

Montreal are currently in sixth place, four points clear of DC United, but Rooney and co have a game in hand. Win at the weekend and they will close the gap to just one point, with a fair amount of games left in the season. The top six teams go through to the playoffs, and it would be exciting to see Rooney taking on the best in the league, so fans hope he can produce more magic.

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Check out a BetDSI review and check their odds and you will see that DC United are the favourites to pick up the win. With Rooney in the team, anything looks possible. He has five goals and seven assists in 12 starts, including the most incredible play of the season. DC United were drawing 3-3 with Orlando City and they won a corner deep into injury time, so the goalkeeper went up for it. But the ball was cleared and Orlando’s forward was in possession with an empty net gaping in front of him. However, Rooney burst back with phenomenal pace, delivered an inch perfect slide tackle, won the ball cleanly, carried it up the pitch and blazed a long ball directly onto Luciano Acosta’s head, allowing the diminutive forward to nod in the winner.

Rooney followed that up with a well-taken brace in a 4-1 victory over Portland in their following game, and he has scored in his last two matches. He is pulling the strings with aplomb, and Acosta’s performances have improved greatly since teaming up with the former Everton and Man Utd star. His arrival gave the entire team a lift, and they have not lost in four games now.

Yet Montreal Impact are also in great form, so it should prove to be a cracking game. Last time out, they travelled to fifth placed Philadelphia Union and earned a thrilling 4-1 victory courtesy of Alejandro Silva Gonzalez’s brace and further strikes from Saphir Taider and Quincy Amarikwa. That followed a 3-0 win over Red Bulls, in which former Arsenal and Man City right-back Bacary Sagna was on target. Evan Bush has arguably been the best goalkeeper in the league this season, and they too are surging with confidence.

The last meeting between these teams finished 1-1 in August, and DC United have not beaten Montreal since 2015. Yet after a testing few years there is finally optimism around this club, thanks to Rooney’s arrival and their subsequent upswing in form. If they want to finish in the top six and surge into the playoffs they need to win games like this in front of their home fans. They have the quality and the momentum to pull it off. But Montreal know that victory will leave them heavy favourites to seal the final playoff spot, so the stakes are extremely high. Both teams have been exceptional in front of goal lately, so we should be in for a high-scoring affair, full of chances and individual brilliance.

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In pictures: NYCFC keep up 100% home record as Orlando City suffer fourth-straight loss

New York City FC handed Orlando City their four consecutive defeat, winning 3-0 at Yankee Stadium on Saturday night. The visitors squandered a great chance to level the game from the penalty spot but missed that golden opportunity as their miserable run continues.

NYCFC’s victory made it six wins from six at home this season. The result saw them move into second place in the Eastern Conference, two points behind Atlanta United.

Ismael Tajouri-Shradi scored a brace to help the hosts to victory, with Maxi Moralez adding a late third to rubber stamp the result. But the biggest moment of the game came just after the second-half began, with the score at 1-0. Orlando were awarded a penalty when Alex Callens pulled down Chris Mueller inside the box. Sacha Kljestan stepped up but saw his penalty strike the post.

For Orlando City, that moment summed up their form of late as another concerning result leaves them clinging on to their playoff spot. They are still sixth in the East but are at risk of dropping further down the table after taking no points from a possible 12.

The Lions have suffered four-straight losses – all to Eastern Conference rivals – so Jason Kreis knows he need to turn their form around very quickly. They travel to Vancouver to take on the Whitecaps next weekend, while NYCFC host Atlanta United in a crucial clash at the top of the East.

Check out exclusive photos from Saturday’s game below, courtesy of Ashley Marshall:

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New York Red Bulls vs Philadelphia Union | 2018 MLS Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: New York Red Bulls vs Philadelphia Union

Red Bull Arena – Saturday, May 26th 2018 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)

UK TV Coverage – Live on Sky Sports Football

New York Red Bulls vs Philadelphia Union: Preview

Saturday evening sees New York Red Bulls welcome Philadelphia Union to Red Bull Arena. The Eastern Conference rivals are separated by seven points ahead of the tie.

It’s been a very good run of form for the home side. They have won four on the bounce, coming into the game off the back of their 3-1 away win against Atlanta.

That win last time out was made all the more impressive as Jesse Marsch’s side came back from 1-0 to take all three points back to New York. More of the same will be expected from the Red Bulls faithful here.

Philadelphia Union have bounced back. They have won their last two after losing two on the bounce and now is the time for them to find some consistency.

A 4-1 win last time out against RSL was exactly the kind of performance the Union needed to produce having previously won 2-0 against Montreal.

If history is anything to go by, Philadelphia fans can expect a difficult game with a slim chance of taking anything away with them – managing just one win in the all-time series on the road.

New York Red Bulls vs Philadelphia Union: Team News

New York Red Bulls

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Marc Rzatkowski (calf injury), Kemar Lawrence (head injury) and Tyler Adams (knee).

🌏 International Duty: Fidel Escobar and Derrick Etienne Jr.

🚑 Out: Kyle Duncan (torn right ACL) and Luis Robles (knee injury).

Philadelphia

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: None.

🌏 International Duty: None.

🚑 Out: Richie Marquez (sports hernia surgery) and Joshua Yaro (concussion).

New York Red Bulls vs Philadelphia Union: Key Stats

New York Red Bulls’ MLS form: L/W/W/W/W

Philadelphia Union’s MLS form: W/L/L/W/W

Key stat: Philadelphia Union have won just once away at New York Red Bulls in the all-time series.

New York Red Bulls vs Philadelphia Union: Prediction

New York Red Bulls 2-1 Philadelphia Union: Despite winning three of their last five, Philadelphia Union have struggled to make much of an impact away against New York Red Bulls. Jesse Marsch will be expecting his side to continue their winning streak but will be more than aware of the threat the Union pose.

Colorado Rapids vs Orlando City | 2018 MLS Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: Colorado Rapids vs Orlando City

Dick’s Sporting Goods Park – Sunday, April 29 2018 – 16:00 ET (21:00 BST)

Colorado Rapids vs Orlando City: Preview

Sunday afternoon sees Colorado Rapids welcome Orlando City to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids sit 8th in the Western Conference, while Orlando are 3rd in the East.

Last weekend was Colorado’s first loss since Week 1. They can feel hard done by not to see performances reflect a higher position in the standings – having won two, drawn two and lost two.

This is going to be a test for Anthony Hudson’s side, who are welcoming an Orlando outfit in good form. They are going to be without their ‘keeper, Tim Howard, who saw red for handling the ball outside of the area.

Orlando have won four games on the bounce. That is most certainly playoff form and they are hoping the good run can continue here.

It is not going to straightforward though and they must iron out some defensive frailties. Their 3-2 win over San Jose last weekend should have been far more comfortable. At 3-0 up the game was out of sight but weak defending from crossing made for a cagey ending to that one.

The only previous meeting between the two in Colorado ended 0-0, while the Lions are yet to lose against the Rapids. That by no means implies an away is guaranteed, which Orlando will be all too aware of.

Colorado Rapids vs Orlando City: Team News

Colorado Rapids

❌ Suspensions: Tim Howard.

❓ Doubts: Danny Wilson (undisclosed).

🚑 Out: Kortne Ford (knee) and Marlon Hairston (knee).

Orlando City

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: RJ Allen (hamstring).

🚑 Out: Mason Stajduhar (localized Ewing sarcoma), Scott Sutter (lower body) and Jonathan Spector.

Colorado Rapids vs Orlando City: Key Stats

Colorado Rapids’ MLS form: D/W/D/W/L

Orlando City’s MLS form: L/W/W/W/W

Key stat: Orlando City are one win away from equalling the longest win streak (five) since their inception to MLS.

Colorado Rapids vs Orlando City: Prediction

Colorado Rapids 2-2 Orlando City: Given Rapids recent form it’s difficult to see them losing this one, despite missing Howard and having lost last time out. Orlando’s winning run adds pressure to both sides – it is going to be an interesting tie which has the potential for goals. Score draw.

Toronto FC vs Chicago Fire | 2018 MLS Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: Toronto FC vs Chicago Fire

BMO Field – Saturday, April 28 2018 – 15:00 ET (20:00 BST)

UK TV Coverage: Live on Sky Sports Football (via Red Button)

Toronto FC vs Chicago Fire: Preview

Toronto FC return to MLS action against Chicago Fire on Saturday afternoon after their heartbreaking penalty defeat to Chivas in the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League Final on Wednesday. Gregg Vanney’s men fought incredible well but ultimately came up short. The competition has taken a lot out of the team, so Chicago will fancy their chances of picking up points.

Mexican sides continue to dominate the CCL, with Chivas lifting the trophy at Toronto’s expense this time around. The reigning MLS Cup champions can hold their heads high for their performances in the competition, but ultimately they returned empty handed.

The challenge will now be to ignite their MLS campaign, after losing four of their opening five games. Those losses have come as a result of focusing on the CCL games, but Toronto sit rock bottom in the Eastern Conference as a result. All four losses have also come directly after CCL fixtures, so fatigue will be a major concern for the home side here.

Chicago Fire arrive in high spirits after picking up a surprise 2-1 win at New York Red Bulls last weekend. Chicago goalkeeper Richard Sanchez came up big, making nine saves to help his side to three big road points. The Fire have picked up seven points from six games but know they are capable of better.

The worry for the visiting side is they’ve lost six consecutive MLS games against Toronto, stretching back three years. Saturday’s game does, however, represent an excellent chance to capitalise on a beaten Toronto side, who are expected to have key players missing.

This will be the 27th MLS meeting between the Eastern Conference sides. They have each won nine of the previous 26 games, with eight matches ending level. Toronto won both games 3-1 last season.

Toronto FC vs Chicago Fire: Team News

Toronto FC

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Victor Vazquez (back spasms), Chris Mavinga (abdominal discomfort), Gregory van der Wiel (Achilles), Jozy Altidore (foot), Justin Morrow (calf strain), Drew Moor (undisclosed).

🚑 Out: Nick Hagglund (hamstring).

Chicago Fire

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: None.

🚑 Out: Jorge Corrales (infection), Michael de Leeuw (left ACL), Djorjde Mihailovic (right ACL), Matt Polster (right MCL), Luis Solignac (left quad).

Toronto FC vs Chicago Fire: Key Stats

Toronto FC’s MLS form: L/L/W/L/L

Chicago Fire’s MLS form: L/D/W/L/W

Key stat: Toronto FC have lost all four of their MLS games directly after playing in the CONCACAF Champions League this season, getting outscored 10-1 in those games.

Toronto FC vs Chicago Fire: Prediction

Toronto FC 2-2 Chicago Fire: There are usually goals when these two sides meet. Both sides have scored in nine of their last 10 MLS meetings and that should be the case again here. Toronto need to rally after their midweek CCL loss but they will be drained mentally and physically. Chicago will be looking to replicate their game plan that worked so well at Red Bull Arena last weekend. They will sit deep and look to hit the hosts on the counter. Score draw.

Chicago Fire vs LA Galaxy | 2018 MLS Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: Chicago Fire vs LA Galaxy

Toyota Park – Saturday, April 14th 2018 – 15:30 ET (20:30 BST)

UK TV Coverage: Live on Sky Sports Football

Chicago Fire vs LA Galaxy: Preview

Saturday afternoon sees Chicago Fire welcome LA Galaxy to Toyota Park. There is plenty of interest in this one, with Bastian Schweinsteiger facing off against former Manchester United teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The home side have picked up after a disappointing start to the 2018 season. Their back-to-back losses have been followed up with a draw and their first win of the campaign.

That 1-0 win came against Crew SC in a hard fought game. It’s not going to be an easy afternoon for Chicago this weekend, as their squad is still riddled with injuries. Much of the same fighting spirit from last weekend is going to be needed.

LA Galaxy are looking to get back to winning ways. They come into this one having lost 2-0 at home against Sporting KC. Despite that loss they still sit third in the Western Conference. It was a tough one to take given how many chance Galaxy created.

Cameras will once again be on Ibrahimovic, who is heading back to fitness and hoping for more involvement here. Both of his appearances have been off the bench, but whether he is ready to start from the off remains to be seen.

There are some questions surrounding The Galaxy defence, who have conceded five goals in their last two games. Given their recent form on the road they cannot afford to give Chicago easy chances.

Chicago Fire vs LA Galaxy: Team News

Chicago Fire

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Mo Adams (left elbow), Jonathan Campbell (facial fracture) and Kevin Ellis (undisclosed).

🚑 Out: Djordje Mihailovic (right ACL surgery), Michael de Leeuw (left ACL surgery), Jorge Corrales (infection), Matt Polster (MCL sprain) and Luis Solignac (left quad).

LA Galaxy

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Giovani dos Santos (hamstring) and Michael Ciani (groin).

🚑 Out: Bradford Jamieson IV (concussion).

Chicago Fire vs LA Galaxy: Key Stats

Chicago Fire’s MLS form: L/L/D/W

LA Galaxy’s MLS form: W/L/D/W/L

Key stat: Homesick – LA Galaxy haven’t won the road in their last 11 attempts.

Chicago Fire vs LA Galaxy: Prediction

Chicago Fire 2-2 LA Galaxy – The Fire look like they’re waking up after that sluggish start and are ready to climb the Eastern Conference. There is ground to make up – so a win here would be a more than welcomed result. LA Galaxy are still looking good in the West despite a couple of shaky results. It’s important that they can end a winless run on the road but a score draw looks a more likely outcome this weekend.

MLS Attacking Player of the Week: Week 6 – Atlanta winger stars in dominant win

For every week of the 2018 MLS season, MLSGB will award two Player of the Week accolades to the previous gameweek’s standout performers. We will highlight one star attacking player, as well as the leading defensive performer from the last round of fixtures. The Attacking Player of the Week award can be won by strikers, wingers and advanced midfielders. While the Defensive Player of the Week award can be won by goalkeepers, defenders and defensive midfielders.

Week 6 saw plenty of action as 24 goals were scored across eight fixtures. Atlanta United made sure they played their part in contributing to that number, as they beat new boys LAFC 5-0 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. At the heart of that performance was Julian Gressel. The winger put in an impressive display, scoring the opener and providing an assist – which is why he is MLSGB Attacking Player of the Week. 

It took Gressel just 17 minutes to break the deadlock. The game remained relatively even from that point onwards, up until just shy of the 70-minute mark when Gressel dinked in a perfect cross for Josef Martinez to make it 2-0. The second goal all but sealed it for Atlanta before they went on a three goal-spree in nine minutes at the end of the game.

Much like Atlanta’s performance, Gressel was efficient. He needed just one shot on target to score his goal, while his one chance created was taken by Martinez. His pass accuracy wasn’t overly impressive, however that won’t be seen as much of an issue by the Atlanta faithful.

From the statistical graphic below you can see just how busy Gressel was during the game. A vast majority of his failed passes (red arrows) were either balls into the box or from within his own half – which shows his desire to look to create chances and get his team moving forward. His assist came from a phase of play which every good winger is expected to provide from, getting down to the byline and delivering.

A detailed look at Julian Gressel’s display in the 5-0 win over LAFC (Stats via @StatsZone)

The 24 year old has been a regular in Tata Martino’s side this season, starting all five games. He will be hoping to continue to contribute, although his strike in the 5-0 win was his first goal of the season, he already has three assists, justifying his place in the starting XI.

Don’t miss: MLS Defensive Player of the Week: Week 6

Next up for Atlanta is a huge game at the top of the Eastern Conference, as they host NYCFC on Sunday evening. Gressel will be looking to continue his good run of early season form and help his side go top of the standings.

Toronto FC vs Real Salt Lake | 2018 MLS Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: Toronto FC vs Real Salt Lake

BMO Field – Friday, March 30 2018 – 20:00 ET (01:00 BST)

Toronto FC vs Real Salt Lake: Preview

The current MLS Cup holders Toronto FC are looking to pick up their first points of the 2018 season as they welcome Real Salt Lake to BMO Field on Friday evening.

It has not been a good start to the new campaign for Toronto, domestically that is, as they have lost their first two. However, before the alarm bells start ringing around the club, their success in reaching the Concacaf Champions League semifinals (this coming Tuesday) against Club America is partly the reason why.

With that said, they cannot afford to allow a winless streak to set in. They sit bottom of the East, already ten points behind the leaders, although that is with two games in hand.

Toronto FC vs Real Salt Lake: TFC fans hoping for first win of 2018 season

The bye week wasn’t exactly kind to Greg Vanney’s thoughts, eight of his squad were in International action and with the games coming thick and fast, he will be keeping a close eye on his players and their intensity levels.

Real Salt Lake visit BMO Field having experienced all three ups and downs at the opening of this season. They have played three games picking up four points (1-1-1). They will be aiming to find some consistency in their quest to be making the playoffs this season.

Their well-disciplined performance to pick up a 1-0 win against RBNY last time out was exactly what their fans wanted to see.

RSL haven’t enjoyed the best form in their away trips to Toronto, having won just one of four meetings between the sides. Away form is a concern for Real Salt Lake too, they have lost 22 games and conceded 72 goals since the start of the 2016 season. That is the third-worst record on the road in MLS during that time span.

Toronto FC vs Real Salt Lake: Team News

Toronto FC

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Justin Morrow (calf strain) and Chris Mavinga (abdominal discomfort).

🚑 Out: None.

Real Salt Lake

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Aaron Herrera (groin), Marcelo Silva (hamstring) and Joao Plata (hamstring).

🚑 Out: Tony Beltran (right knee surgery), Jordan Allen (knee) and Taylor Peay (knee).

Toronto FC vs Real Salt Lake: Key Stats

Toronto FC’s MLS form: L/L

Real Salt Lake’s MLS form: D/L/W

Key stat: Toronto will become the first defending champion to start the following season with three straight defeats if they lose this game.

Toronto FC vs Real Salt Lake: Prediction

Toronto FC 2-1 Real Salt Lake: It has the makings of a close game all things considered. TFC will have more than a close eye on their semifinal next week heading into this one. That is by no means through a lack of respect for RSL – just the nature of knockout competitions. Salt Lake will see this as a tie that they can pick up points from. However, the TFC faithful will be expecting their side to get their first win of the season.

MLS Attacking Player of the Week: Week 4 – RBNY striker makes history

For every week of the 2018 MLS season, MLSGB will award two Player of the Week accolades to the previous gameweek’s standout performers. We will highlight one star attacking player, as well as the leading defensive performer from the last round of fixtures. The Attacking Player of the Week award can be won by strikers, wingers and advanced midfielders. While the Defensive Player of the Week award can be won by goalkeepers, defenders and defensive midfielders.

Draws were a common theme in a muted round of fixtures during Week 4. Despite four of the six games ending with teams sharing the spoils, there were still plenty of goals and exciting attacking play. New York Red Bulls will feel they had the best result of the week, with a comfortable 3-0 home win against Minnesota. At the heart of that attacking display was Mr Reliable, Bradley Wright-Phillips. He bagged himself a brace in a typically calm performance and that’s why he is the MLSGB Attacking Player of the Week.

BWP was in fine form in front of goal, scoring one in each half, putting his side third in the Eastern Conference. There isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said about the Englishman during his time in MLS. However, those two goals mean he has scored more goals than any player in MLS history over a five-year span.

The forward needed just three shots on goal for his brace. He fell short in some of the other areas of his performance in terms of pass completion, but that won’t be much of a concern to the RBNY fans.

Wright-Phillips took his goal tally to three for the season. He laid on just the one chance for his teammates during his 81 minutes on the field.

It was a game of clinical finishing for BWP, which doesn’t come as too much of a surprise. He took his second goal in some style, showing great composure under pressure.

Don’t miss: MLS Defensive Player of the Week: Week 4

It’s already proving to be a very competitive battle in the Eastern Conference. With quite a few surprise results already being thrown into the mix, the pressure is going to be on forwards like Wright-Phillips to take the chances they are provided with.

Columbus Crew vs DC United | 2018 MLS Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: Columbus Crew vs DC United

MAPFRE Stadium – Saturday, March 25 2018 – 18:00 ET (22:00 GMT)

UK TV Coverage: Live on Sky Sports Football

Columbus Crew vs DC United: Preview

Saturday evening sees Columbus Crew take on Eastern Conference rivals DC United live on Sky Sports Football for UK fans.

Columbus Crew sit second in the East after failing to make it three wins in a row to start their 2018 campaign. Their 0-0 draw with Philadelphia did however keep their unbeaten run intact and they will be hoping to continue that streak here.

An impressive start to the season has been helped by the partnership formed by new signing Gyasi Zardes and Crew SC favourite Federico Higuain. Although they failed to combine to break the deadlock last time out, they are already proving to be a very real threat to opposition defences.

DC’s comeback from being two goals down at half-time to draw 2-2 last weekend against Houston will have been celebrated like a win. They showed great desire not to let the scoreline get on top of them and it stopped it being two losses on the bounce.

It hasn’t been the ideal start to 2018 for the Black-and-Red, who are yet to win a game. This wouldn’t exactly be the fixture of choice in that hunt for three points for the DC faithful either, as they have failed to win in ten on the road against Columbus.

However, all winless runs have to come to an end at some point and that is exactly what Ben Olsen will be reminding his side of ahead of this one.

Columbus Crew vs DC United: Team News

Columbus Crew

🌎 International duty: Zack Steffen and Wil Trapp

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: None.

🚑 Out: Mike Grella (left knee) and Gaston Sauro (left knee).

DC United

🌎 International duty: Oniel Fisher, Dane Kelly, Ulises Segura, Zoltan Stieber and Bruno Miranda

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: None.

🚑 Out: Russell Canouse (knee), Taylor Kemp (groin) and Junior Moreno.

Columbus Crew vs DC United: Key Stats

Columbus Crew’s MLS form: W/W/D

DC United’s MLS form: D/L/D

Key stat: Columbus Crew are unbeaten in their last ten home games against DC United.

Columbus Crew vs DC United: Prediction

Columbus Crew 2-1 DC United: Given their strong start to 2018 and home record against DC, Columbus will be going into this one looking at it as a must win game. They will want to bounce back to winning ways after their draw last weekend and have a great chance of doing so here. DC won’t roll over easily. This fixture is far from a foregone conclusion and they have more than enough talent to come away from Columbus with a point at the very least. But it is a real possibility that history will repeat itself and we see DC going home empty handed.