MLS has a limited schedule this weekend with international tournaments coming to the fore, but there is still plenty to look forward to as Eastern Conference heavyweights Philadelphia Union and New York Red Bulls do battle, plus the back-from-the-dead Colorado Rapids take on Minnesota United.
Bull run to continue in Philly?
Back in preseason, if you would have said that Bradley Wright-Phillips would have one goal by the first week of June and the New York Red Bulls would be top five in the East, people would not have believed it.
By now, we should all know better. Doubt the Red Bulls at your peril, because whether it's a key midfielder leaving each winter -- Dax McCarty in 2017, Sacha Kljestan in 2018, Tyler Adams in 2019 -- or the star striker getting injured, as is the case with Wright-Phillips, the Red Bulls always find a way.
This year, instead of Wright-Phillips handling the scoring duties, it has been more of a spread-the-wealth approach with Kaku pulling the strings, and it has yielded a five-match unbeaten run, which included a 4-0 dismantling of Real Salt Lake last Saturday at home. Now, the Red Bulls head to Philadelphia on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+) looking to make another step up the Eastern Conference ladder.
This is a great opportunity for the Union to flex their muscles. Thus far in 2019 they have not had too many chances to go up against the alpha dogs of the East, like Atlanta United, D.C. United and the Red Bulls. The lone contest was a 1-1 draw with Atlanta back in March. A win on home soil against the Red Bulls would send a firm message to the rest of the conference that Philadelphia is for real.
All hail Casey in Colorado
To give you an idea of just how awful the Colorado Rapids were in the first 2½ months of the season, the team is unbeaten in its past four matches with three wins yet is still in last place in the Western Conference. That takes some doing.
But since Anthony Hudson got the pink slip after a 0W-2D-8L start and Conor Casey was named interim boss, the Rapids have found new life. Their play is much more direct and that has resulted in eight goals in the past four games. There's no question that getting younger has helped the Rapids; out went Feilhaber and in came Jonathan Lewis and Lalas Abubakar and it has sparked Colorado to life.
Unfortunately for Casey, Lewis is on international duty with the U.S. and won't be available for Saturday's home date with Minnesota (9 p.m. ET, ESPN+). Minnesota is thriving in its new home and that has helped put the club in playoff position in the West.
But there are still concerns for coach Adrian Heath. Darwin Quintero hasn't scored in forever -- OK, it was April 19, but it feels like forever -- and fellow designated player Angelo Rodriguez is also slumping, goalless in his past six.
It will be crucial for one of Minnesota's two Colombians, if not both, to get on the score sheet before the league takes a one-week break for the opening week of the Gold Cup.