MLS Rivalry Week hits its final crescendo this weekend

MLS Rivalry Week continues this weekend, as several more rivalries get their time in the spotlight. With several matches this weekend, there are a few teams that really need a win to keep pace with the leaders in the Eastern Conference, while others are hoping to seek the answers they need to keep afloat in the playoff race. Let’s take a look at which matches should keep you thoroughly entertained this weekend.

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Nashville SC

Nashville will play its first match without Gary Smith on the sidelines after the manager was let go earlier this week.
Casey Gower-USA TODAY Sports

Nashville SC vs. Atlanta United

Saturday, May 18, 1:45pm (Fox, Apple TV (free), MLS Season Pass)

Since Nashville entered the league, their organic rivalry with Atlanta United has become an interesting one, with both teams fighting hard to win on the field. However, with the new on Thursday morning that Nashville had fired head coach Gary Smith, the team’s primary focus has switched to survival. Both Nashville and Atlanta are under the playoff line, and a win would do wonders to get them back above it. Atlanta is reeling, with just one win in their last five matches. If they can’t show signs of turning it around, there may be some changes coming for them as well.

Prediction: This is an ugly match, but Nashville rallies for a 2-1 win.

New York City FC vs. New York Red Bulls

Saturday, May 18, 7:30pm (MLS Season Pass)

It’s the Hudson River Derby, a rivalry which the league has elevated to premier status in importance. It’s New York vs. New Jersey, blue vs. red, pork roll/Taylor ham vs. chopped cheese, and a clash between world football conglomerates, all adding to the derby. NYCFC could be shorthanded after a series of suspensions stemming from last weekend’s post-match squabble with Toronto FC. The Red Bulls are coming off a midweek win against their main rivals DC United on the road, and they’ll look to continue the hate against their neighbors across the George Washington Bridge. Whenever these two teams get together, you can see the hate permeating off the screen. Grab your popcorn, cuz it could get chippy.

Prediction: The Red Bulls are simply better right now, and show it with a 3-1 victory.

MLS: Columbus Crew at CF Montreal

CF Montreal enters its weekend rivalry against Toronto with just one loss in its last 10 meetings.
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto FC vs. CF Montreal

Saturday, May 18, 7:30pm (MLS Season Pass)

The Canadian Classique also takes flight this weekend, and it could be more fierce than ever. It’s always a matchup with a lot of trash talk from both fans and players, and this time even the coaches could get into it. While Montreal only have 2 draws in their last 5 matches, in the Canadian Classique they have dominated recently. They have only 1 loss against Toronto in the last 10 matches and they’ll look to extend that on the road. Toronto will likely shorthanded due to suspensions, but they have been the better team on the season thus far and they’ll want this to keep pace with the leaders.

Prediction: Toronto is able to hold off Montreal’s late barrage to win 3-2.

Dallas at Houston

Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET (MLS Season Pass)

Love a little rivalry that pits together two teams eager to kickstart a winning streak. Dallas took a 2-0 win in the last meeting between these two on April 27 and is certainly out to keep its momentum going from a 2-1 win against Austin FC last Saturday. As for Houston, it’s been a bit of a rough patch for head coach Ben Olsen’s side, winless in its last three matches and sitting in the No. 8 position. But it is a home game for the Dynamo, which could provide the spark needed at the right time.

Prediction: Houston squeezes out a win but not by much, courtesy of a 1-0 final.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at LA Galaxy

Chicho Arango is having one of his best years in MLS. He’ll be fun to watch on Saturday night when Real takes on Colorado.
Alex Gallardo-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado at Real Salt Lake

Saturday, 9:30 p.m. ET (MLS Season Pass)

Real has been on a tear, signified by its most recent win, a 2-0 defeat of Seattle on Wednesday night. The top team in MLS’ Western Conference will stay home to face Colorado, which has had a bit of topsy-turvy form of its own. However, the Rapids won its most recent match, a 1-0 defeat of Vancouver. Still, Salt Lake fueled by the MVP-caliber play of Cristian Arango looks tough to beat, especially at America First Field.

Prediction: Real puts on a show for the hometown crowd en route to a 3-1 victory.

Vancouver at Seattle

Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET (MLS Season Pass)

Another classic rivalry that predates MLS, look for Seattle to want bounce back from a tough Wednesday night loss to Salt Lake with a performance to savor. Also a bit of revenge play shouldn’t go unnoticed here. Vancouver has just one win in its last five matches. That win? A 2-0 defeat of the Sounders on April 20. This one is definitely worth staying up for.

Prediction: Vancouver battles, but Seattle seizes the day behind a 2-1 defeat.

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