The weekend in Major League Soccer features another heavyweight Western Conference showdown, as well as a matchup between last year's expansion teams.
The reigning West champion Seattle Sounders host the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday night (9 p.m. on FS1), with the league-leader in goals – Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez – going up against Seattle's Raul Ruidiaz in a showdown of early season Golden Boot contenders.
In the Sunday matinee, Nashville SC hosts Inter Miami CF in a head-to-head showcase for last year's expansion teams (1 p.m. ET on ESPN).
Here is what you need to know for the third weekend of the 2021 MLS season:
MLS game of the week
Seattle Sounders vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (Sunday, 9 p.m. ET, FS1) – Galaxy forward Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez has begun the 2021 season on fire, leading the league in goals with five in the first two matches. The Galaxy sit atop the Western Conference standings (2-0-0, 6 points), while the Sounders trail in second (1-0-1, 4 points). Sounders forward Raul Ruidiaz has scored two goals.
Raul Ruidiaz scored two goals in the Seattle Sounders' season-opening win over Minnesota United on April 16. (Photo: Jennifer Buchanan, USA TODAY Sports)
MLS player to watch
Randall Leal – The Nashville SC winger enters a Sunday showdown with Inter Miami CF (1 p.m. ET, ESPN) with one goal and two assists to his name. The Costa Rican National Team member is tied with Ruidiaz for the most shots on target in MLS (7).
What is this weekend's MLS schedule?
(All times Eastern. ABC/ESPN games available to be streamed on Watch ESPN; FOX games on FOX Sports Live. Games also available on fuboTV.)
- New York Red Bulls vs. Chicago Fire FC, 1 p.m. (ESPN+)
- Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas City, 2 p.m. (ESPN+)
- CF Montreal vs. Columbus Crew, 3 p.m. (ESPN+)
- Houston Dynamo vs. Los Angeles FC, 3:30 p.m. (UniMas, TUDN)
- New England Revolution vs. Atlanta United, 7 p.m. (ESPN+)
- Orlando City SC vs. FC Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
- Philadelphia Union vs. New York City FC, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
- FC Dallas vs. Portland Timbers, 8 p.m. (ESPN+)
- Minnesota United vs. Austin FC, 8 p.m. (ESPN+)
- San Jose Earthquakes vs. DC United, 11 p.m. (ESPN+)
- Nashville SC vs. Inter Miami CF, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
- Seattle Sounders vs. Los Angeles Galaxy, 9 p.m. (FS1)
- Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Colorado Rapids, 10 p.m. (ESPN+)
Randall Leal (8) has a goal and two assists through Nashville SC's first two games this season. (Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel, USA TODAY Sports)
MLS news and notes
Your leading MLS scorer through two games is … Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, just months removed from a disappointing debut season in MLS, has come out flying early in 2021. He’s the runaway scoring leader in the league with five goals through two matches. He’s also scored five of the six goals that have seen Los Angeles Galaxy start off the season 2-0-0. Chicharito’s latest performance saw him net a hat trick of close-range scores in a 3-2 win against New York Red Bulls.
All-MLS Concacaf Champions League showdown: Philadelphia Union dominated Atlanta United when the clubs met Tuesday for the first leg of a Concacaf Champions League semifinal tie. Playing in the only quarterfinal featuring two MLS sides, Philly took a commanding aggregate-score lead into the second leg at Subaru Park after a 3-0 win at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Kacper Przybyłko was the attacking catalyst for the Union as he scored twice and passed up on his chance for a hat trick, choosing instead to play a square ball to Anthony Fontana. Fontana netted with ease to make it 3-0. Philadelphia will look to stay unbeaten in Champions League play (3-0-0) when the teams meet for the second leg on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET, FS1).
Short rest for MLS elite: One of the drawbacks to Champions League play is the short rest that results from the midweek matches. Philadelphia (vs. NYCFC), Atlanta (vs. New England), Columbus Crew SC (vs. CF Montreal) and Portland (vs. FC Dallas) all play again Saturday. Toronto FC, which lost to Cruz Azul, 3-1, on Tuesday, won’t play again in MLS until May 8.
CF Montreal still surprising: It remains to be seen if the 2021 CF Montreal side is built to last and contend into the summer months but they’re still hanging tough for now. On four points in the standings (1-0-1), a Montreal team many pundits and observers picked to finish at or near the bottom of MLS is still leading the Eastern Conference. They’re the joint-leaders heading into the third game of the season alongside Atlanta United. That makes for good fodder because plenty of MLS observers are eating their preseason words regarding Montreal’s prospects for a successful 2021.
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By the numbers
600: Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes hit an impressive milestone last week, taking part in his 600th MLS match (regular season and playoffs) as either a player (209) or coach (391). Vermes, who is in his 13th season as SKC coach, is the longest-tenured coach currently in MLS. Only Jason Kreis (662 games as either a player or coach) has made more MLS appearances than Vermes.
MLS top 10 power rankings
1. Los Angeles FC – LAFC amassed four points through two games without stars Diego Rossi and Carlos Vela. Bob Bradley’s squad scored in the second minute against Seattle in a match that ended in a 1-1 draw. The two teams play again on May 16.
2. Columbus Crew – The Crew enjoyed an early off week in Major League Soccer action, and began the quarterfinal round of the Concacaf Champions League on Wednesday night against Monterrey. The Crew played to a scoreless draw with Philadelphia in its lone MLS match of the season.
3. Seattle Sounders – The Sounders sit at four points after two games coming off of a 1-1 tie with LAFC in an early contest between Western Conference favorites. Seattle’s next two matches are against rivals LA Galaxy and the Portland Timbers.
4. Los Angeles Galaxy – The early story of the MLS season is the resurgence of the Galaxy thanks to the scoring prowess of Javier Hernandez. "Chicharito" recorded a hat trick in a thrilling 3-2 victory over the Red Bulls. He’s scored five goals through two matches. The Galaxy are the only club with six points.
5. Atlanta United – Atlanta sits atop the Eastern Conference standings alongside CF Montreal thanks to four points through two matches. The United gained three points over the weekend with a 3-1 victory over Chicago.
6. New England Revolution – New England also holds four points through two games, but is a spot behind Atlanta and Montreal because the Revolution’s goal differential is one compared to two for the leaders. A 1-0 win over DC United was clinched thanks to an own goal by Brendan Hines-Ike in the 48th minute.
7. CF Montreal – Montreal couldn’t hang onto a two-goal first-half lead against Nashville, settling for a point in a 2-2 tie. Mason Toye continued a strong start to the season with a goal in the 13th minute. Zachary Brault-Guillard scored the second for Montreal.
8. Sporting Kansas City – Kansas City is off to an under-the-radar strong start with four points through two games while headlines in the Western Conference are directed at Seattle or the Los Angeles squads. Kansas City should continue to build points early in the year with Salt Lake, Austin and Houston next on the schedule.
9. Philadelphia Union – Much is expected of the Union despite a slow start to the 2021 MLS season. Philadelphia is admittedly distracted with the quarterfinals of the Concacaf Champions League. Jamiro Monteiro’s goal in the 54th minute against Miami was the only one scored by Philadelphia through two games.
10. Portland Timbers – The Timbers are among the throng of MLS clubs with an eye on the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals. The recent 2-1 win over Houston should build momentum for Portland.
Moving in: Atlanta United
Dropping out: Orlando City SC (previously: 8)
Others receiving votes: Nashville SC, New York City FC, Orlando City, Vancouver Whitecaps
USA TODAY Sports Network MLS top 10 power poll voters: Pat Brennan, Cincinnati Enquirer; Mike Craven, Austin American-Statesman; Drake Hills, The Tennessean; Jacob Myers, The Columbus Dispatch.
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