MLS Preview and Prediction: Chicago Fire vs Philadelphia Union

Competition: Major League Soccer – Chicago Fire vs Philadelphia Union

Venue: Toyota Park – Sunday, March 29 – 17:00 ET (22:00 BST – Live on Sky Sports 1)

Match Odds: Chicago Fire 6/4 – Draw 23/10Philadelphia Union 7/4

Match Preview

Chicago Fire host Philadelphia Union at Toyota Park on Sunday evening in an all Eastern Conference clash as both sides look for their first win of the 2015 MLS campaign.

The Fire have had a slow start to the season, losing their first three games and they already find themselves rooted to the foot of both the Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings.

Philadelphia suffered their first defeat at home to FC Dallas last weekend having previously tied their opening game at home to Colorado before an entertaining 3-3 draw with Real Salt Lake a week later. The Union are currently seventh in the Eastern Conference.

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Chicago have struggled to find the net in the early stages of this season but Harry Shipp did manage to notch their first goal during the 2-1 defeat at San Jose last time out.

Head coach Jim Curtin has only seen his Philadelphia side pick up one win out of their last ten games in MLS if you carry over from last season’s fixtures, and they will be desperately trying to pick up three points against a Chicago side that appear to be there for the taking.

The Fire have an even worse recent record in MLS, with just one win in their last 12 games and head coach Frank Yallop has got a lot of work to do in order to turn things round.

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The last meeting between these two was a 1-1 draw back in October. In-fact, all three of last season’s games between Chicago and Philadelphia ended in a tie.

Team News

Chicago Fire will be without long-term absentee Mike Magee. Midfielders Patrick Nyarko and Razvan Cocis are also out, while Shaun Maloney and David Accam are away on international duty. The Fire have signed midfielder Víctor Pérez on-loan from Spanish side Real Valladolid, so he could make his debut.

Philadelphia Union have survived the international duty exodus, but do have a long list injuries. C. J. Sapong, Cristian Maidana, Eric Bird, Sheanon Williams and Conor Casey are all out. Goalkeeper Andre Blake is also unlikely to return to the squad following knee surgery a month ago. Zach Pfeffer will miss out through suspension.

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Key Points

Chicago Fire’s form: L/L/L

Philadelphia Union’s form: D/D/L

Key Stat: There has never been a goalless draw between these two sides.

Key Player: Fernando Aristeguieta – With two goals from his opening three games, he is Philadelphia’s main goal threat and Chicago have got a job on their hands trying to contain him.

Score Prediction

Chicago Fire 1-2 Philadelphia Union – Chicago Fire have had a poor start and the Union should edge out their first victory of the season and heap more misery on Frank Yallop’s men.

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MLS Preview and Prediction: New York Red Bulls vs DC United

Competition: Major League Soccer – New York Red Bulls vs. DC United

Venue: Red Bull Arena – Sunday, March 22 – 17:00 ET (21:00 GMT – Live on Sky Sports 5)

Match Odds: New York Red Bulls 10/11 – Draw 5/2 – DC United 3/1

Match Preview

New York Red Bulls host DC United in their first home game of the new MLS season on Sunday evening. This has the potential to be a cracker as the Eastern Conference sides renew one of the oldest MLS rivalries as they go head-to-head for the Atlantic Cup once again.

With both sides hopeful of a playoff berth again this season, New York and DC will both see this as a must win game – even if only for the bragging rights at this early stage of the campaign.

The Red Bulls have had a turbulent offseason after losing the great Thierry Henry as well as Tim Cahill and head coach Mike Petke, but have managed to shore up their defence with the addition Ronald Zubar and have also strengthened in midfield with Sacha Kljestan coming in.

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Both sides were on bye weeks last weekend so will come into the game fresh and both will be looking for all three points.

The Red Bulls earned a hard fought point away to Sporting Kansas City in their opening game and will need to be at their best once again if they are to get a result from this one.

Ben Olsen’s DC United are one of the favourites to retain their Eastern Conference title this season as they look like a dangerous side despite playing without two of their best players in Fabian Espindola and Eddie Johnson.

The 1-0 win against the Montreal Impact looks like a great result as Montreal are significantly better than last season so far and have reached the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League.

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However, we are expecting the Red Bulls to challenge USMNT goalkeeper Bill Hamid on Sunday night in what should be a close encounter.

With the joint-best defence in 2014, DC United will provide a real test for Bradley Wright-Phillips and his Red Bulls teammates this weekend in what has the potential to be the game of the weekend. For any UK fans reading, it’s live on Sky Sports 5 and isn’t one you want to miss.

Team News

New York Red Bulls: Peguy Luyindula could come in for Mike Grella on the left wing. Roy Miller is a doubt but is expected to feature at left-back. Ronald Zubar has a hamstring problem but he is also expected to make the starting lineup.

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DC United: Eddie Johnson, Luis Silva and Markus Halsti are all out. Michael Seaton is a doubt and Fabian Espindola is still serving a ban that won’t see him return until Week 7. Taylor Kemp could start at left-back but is a doubt with a groin injury.

Key Points

New York Red Bulls’ form: D

DC United’s form: W

Key Stat: Bradley Wright-Phillips failed to register a single shot and only had one touch in the box when the Red Bulls played Sporting Kansas City on the opening weekend.

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Key Player: Jairo Arrieta – New DC United striker, Jairo Arrieta arrived via a trade with Orlando and scored in his first game against Montreal last time out. With Espindola and Johnson both out, Arrieta will be the main threat in front of goal.

Score Prediction

New York Red Bulls 1-2 DC United – This one could go either way, but DC United may edge this after being eliminated from the playoffs by the Red Bulls last term. Will revenge be served at Red Bull Arena on Sunday?

MLS Preview and Prediction: New York City FC vs New England Revolution

Competition: Major League Soccer – New York City FC vs. New England Revolution

Venue: Yankee Stadium – Sunday, March 15 – 17:00 ET (21:00 GMT – Live on Sky Sports 1)

Match Odds: New York City 11/10 – Draw 23/10 – New England 5/2

Match Preview

New York City host the New England Revolution in the expansion clubs’ first ever home game on Sunday evening at Yankee stadium in a game that is live on Sky Sports for UK fans.

Both sides will see this as a must win. New York will want their first home game to be a memorable one, while New England needs to get back on track after a 3-0 opening loss to Seattle last weekend.

New York City picked up a point last week and would have had all three had it not been for a late deflected Kaka free-kick. So they will be confident of picking up the points in this one.

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If they are to win, they need their strikers David Villa and Adam Nemec to be on the same wavelength after they were both disappointing in Orlando. Nemec failed to impress but should be given another start as Jason Kreis will want him to form a good partnership with Villa.

New England are bottom of the MLS ladder at this early stage, but we can’t see that lasting long. They were missing key players Lee Nguyen and Jermaine Jones last week, and the Revs will be hoping the former returns on Sunday.

With 20 goals last term, Nguyen was a front-runner for the MLS MVP award. And they will need his ability on Sunday to beat New York keeper Josh Saunders who was exceptional last weekend.

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The Sounders undid the Revs with ease and New England need stability after losing defensive leader AJ Soares in the offseason. But this is the perfect opportunity to turn the tide. Juan Agudelo will be key if they do win.

This is certainly one to watch this weekend!

Team News

New York City FC: We’re expecting the same starting line-up from the Orlando game. However, Khiry Shelton could be called upon after impressing in preseason and in his short time on the field last week. Ryan Meara is nearing a return, but George John is still out. Both have knee injuries.

New England Revolution: Teal Bunbury is a major doubt with a shoulder sprain. Lee Nguyen is still a doubt but should be passed fit to play. Jermaine Jones is still a minimum of two weeks away from action recovering from a hernia operation. Andrew Farrell will start at centre-back once again with Kevin Alston at right-back.

Key Points

New York City FC’s form: D

New England Revolution’s form: L

Key Stat: Mix Diskerud had a pass completion rate of 94% in the draw at Orlando last weekend. Incredible.

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Key Player: David Villa – The Spanish World Cup winner is the star man for New York City and the home fans will be expecting magic. We expect the same.

Score Prediction

New York City FC 1-1 New England Revolution – This might only be the second game of the season but there is a lot of pressure on both sides going into this one. Neither will want to suffer defeat and an entertaining draw looks the most likely result.

Sky Sports to show MLS doubleheader on Sunday night

Sky Sports will exclusively broadcast live action from Major League Soccer this year for the first of a four-year deal and the first weekend of the season will allow UK fans to enjoy four hours of non-stop MLS action on Sunday night.

The first MLS game to be broadcast on Sky will see the two new MLS Expansion franchises go head-to-head as Orlando City SC take on New York City FC at 21:00 in the UK.

The game will see Kaka face up against David Villa and will be broadcast live on Sky Sports 3. It will be immediately followed by Sporting Kansas City vs. New York Red Bulls at 23:00.

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David Villa will face up against Kaka as Orlando City play New York City in the opening game of the 2015 MLS season

Both games should be entertaining as the biggest-ever MLS season is set to get underway in fine style this weekend.

The first game between Orlando and New York City will be made even better by the fact that a huge 60,000 sell-out crowd is expected to be in attendance at the Citrus Bowl in Florida for the Lions’ first-ever MLS game.

The two expansion clubs are rivals because of the fact that they are both entering the league in 2015 and Sunday night’s game is one you don’t want to miss.

The later game between Sporting Kansas City and the New York Red Bulls is a repeat of the Eastern Conference playoff game from the 2014 season.

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The Red Bulls came from behind to win 2-1 back in October though New York have seen so much change this offseason, including the loss of Thierry Henry, while Sporting KC have been moved to the Western Conference ahead of the 2015 campaign.

Both clubs have English strikers who were the two highest goalscorers in MLS last year as Bradley Wright-Phillips and Dom Dwyer set the league alight.

Both Dwyer and Wright-Phillips will want to hit the ground running in Sunday’s game and that is another one you don’t want to miss.