Major League Soccer has approached the first international break and for the Colorado Rapids it means an extended three-week period without a match. This is probably not what the Burgundy Boys want with the poor (sorry, but it was a poor performance) last Saturday, but the schedule is what the schedule is.
Despite a dearth of MLS action this weekend, there is still plenty of soccer action going on and here is what I am going to be watching:
World Cup Qualifiers
United States of America vs Honduras—Friday, 8:00 PM MDT
I don’t necessarily believe in “the must-win” game in any sport. Sure, some games are more important than others, but ultimately, sport clichés are what they are: a cliché.
But make no mistake, this is a must-win.
I know, I know...there is still plenty of time and plenty of points on the table for the United States to qualify for the World Cup in 2018. But to get anything but three points from this match would be a massive let down, and, potentially catastrophe. No, the world is not going to end if the USMNT loses, but winning this one, with all of the hype and changes that have been made, is a must.
USMNT Gaffer Bruce Arena has put much of this in the hands of MLS veterans (including that Tim Howard guy) and regardless of formation, the Yanks need to get this done.
Mexico vs Costa Rica—Friday, 7:50 PM MDT
If the USMNT is going to make a trip to the World Cup in Russia, they are going to need some help (not much, but some). The Ticos are at Azteca on Friday and a draw would be an OK result for both teams, but the USMNT would like a loss. I don’t really care too much who wins or loses, but I will be watching this game with some level of interest.
Major League Soccer
Despite it being an International Break, MLS rolls on with a very abbreviated schedule for Week Four, and with the three matches on tap, the NYRB v RSL match should be the most interesting. The Red Bulls are coming off a tough loss on the road in Seattle and RSL fired their coach this week. I am not expecting much from RSL this weekend and I am completely expecting a reaction from the original New York franchise.
A rematch of the 2015 MLS Cup Championship match sees Portland make their only trip to Columbus and the Timbers are clearly the best team in MLS so far. They are 3-0-0 (9 points, +7 GD) and are firing on all cylinders. One of the challenges with the Timbers has always been their lack of defense, but so far they are playing pragmatic defense that has them at the top of the MLS table. The Crew will be looking for a bounce back this year after a disastrous 2016. The Crew are sixth in the Eastern Conference and will fancy their chances in this one.
United Soccer League
Tulsa Roughnecks vs Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC—Saturday, 6:00 PM MDT
Our neighbors to the south begin their third season in USL with a big road game against a Tulsa team that is looking to compete for silverware in USL. The Switchbacks enter this season with a weird sensation: the weight of expectation. Colorado Springs have done some good things this year and former Rapids defender Davy Armstrong makes his return. The Switchbacks have yet to win in Tulsa, so this will be a tough test as they begin USL play.