MLS Weekend Preview: LA Galaxy targets response against FC Dallas

Galaxy must manage tempo carefully to dispatch FC Dallas

There are few secrets about FC Dallas in its current state. FCD lacks nuance without it’s the mysteriously sidelined Mauro Diaz and relies on the break to pose a threat to the opposition. Sporting Kansas City managed the threat well last week by keeping the ball well (62 percent possession share, per Opta statistics) and restricting FCD’s opportunities to proceed quickly out of the back. LA Galaxy must follow a similar approach ahead of the encounter at StubHub Center on Sunday (live, 9:30p.m. ET, FS1, FOX Sports GO). There is a need for the Galaxy to dictate terms in this match after a poor display at Real Salt Lake last weekend. If the Galaxy establishes the right balance in central midfield and sets the line properly to protect Omar Gonzalez and Leonardo, then the MLS Cup holders possess the latitude to crank through the gears in possession and figure out a way to place Giovani dos Santos and Robbie Keane in menacing positions.

How earnestly will Sporting Kansas City chase a result against Seattle?

Sporting KC coped well enough with FCD last weekend, but the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup finalists struggled mightily in a costly midweek defeat to Houston. The task isn’t much easier against resurgent Seattle at Sporting Park on Sunday, particularly with Matt Besler and Benny Feilhaber ruled out through suspension and Krisztian Nemeth hindered by injury. The question for Peter Vermes is a complex one: How much ground is he willing to cede in the Western Conference playoff race to protect other players ahead of the Open Cup final at Philadelphia in midweek? With Sounders FC back in menacing form with starters (3-0 win at Vancouver last weekend) and reserves (3-0 win over Vancouver in CCL play in midweek), it might make sense to rest some legs and shift the resources toward a more important affair.

Timbers aim to quell the noise in Columbus

There is nothing more important in Portland than the trip to MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday. Caleb Porter’s side offered little resistance in New York Red Bulls’ 2-0 victory at Providence Park on Sunday and sparked a peculiar discussion about the relative merits of sixth place in its wake. In order to maintain a tenuous grip on that perch, the Timbers must figure out a way to cope with Crew SC in possession and expose the frailties in the home side’s defensive shape (the best bet: relying on that direct, quick work to pounce when Crew SC advances too earnestly). It is a game plan that requires a substantial improvement from the midfield three and a more potent approach in the final third. If the Timbers cannot muster it, then they might tumble out of the top six by the end of the weekend.

Real Salt Lake, San Jose target galvanizing victory

San Jose and Real Salt Lake stand primed to benefit if the Timbers slip again. Both teams remain within striking distance of the postseason ahead of their meeting at Avaya Stadium on Sunday (live, 7:00p.m. ET, FS1, FOX Sports GO). RSL makes the trek to Northern California with one major injury question to answer (is Javier Morales fit enough to feature after aggravating a hip injury during the second-half rescue mission against Santa Tecla on Thursday?) and a considerable amount of confidence after the recent, Burrito-inspired uptick in form. RSL is in a position to make life difficult for the Earthquakes with their improved work in possession and their ability to combine through the lines. It is on San Jose to shake out the recent barren stretch (winless in the past four) and stay in touch with the right blend of defiance in midfield and industry in the wide areas.

Life on the fringes leaves little room for error

Hope springs eternal even when the playoff situation looks bleak. Those tenets drive Colorado forward ahead of a trip to face Houston at BBVA Compass Stadium and invigorate New York City FC ahead of a difficult trip to Vancouver. Both teams need a lot of points and a series of favorable results to somehow procure a playoff place. There are too many eventualities to contemplate at the moment. At this stage, it is all about winning now and then seeing where it might lead.