El Trafico LA showdown, Portland Timbers-Seattle Sounders Cascadia Derby highlight weekend in MLS

·7 min read

With a Saturday game on Fox and a Sunday doubleheader on ABC, this is a banner television weekend for Major League Soccer.

And, the matchups are intriguing, too.

The first of three scheduled El Tráfico matchups this season is Saturday in Carson, Calif., as the Los Angeles Galaxy host LAFC (8 p.m. ET on Fox). Will this finally be the first time Mexican internationals Javier "Chicharito" Hernández and Carlos Vela square off against each other in MLS play?

Sunday's doubleheader on ABC features coach Phil Neville's Inter Miami FC hosting Gabriel Heinze’s Atlanta United (1 p.m. ET). That is followed by the storied rivalry between the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders (3 p.m. ET) that dates back to the old NASL in the 1970s.

Here is what you need to know for the fourth weekend of the 2021 MLS season:

MLS game of the week

Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, ABC) - The Cascadia Derby is back and the first place Sounders (2-0-1, 7 points) will stroll into Portland’s Providence Park on Sunday searching for its first win over the Timbers since August. Portland is 2-0-1 against Seattle since then. The Sounders are led by Peru national team center forward Raul Ruidíaz, who has scored four goals in three matches so far in 2021.

Timber Joey cuts a log after a Portland Timbers goal at Providence Park.
Timber Joey cuts a log after a Portland Timbers goal at Providence Park.

MLS player to watch

Caden Clark, New York Red Bulls - The 17-year-old Red Bulls academy graduate has made an immediate impact on NYRB’s attack. His karate kick volley goal against Chicago Fire FC one week ago was his second of the season, equaling his total in seven matches played in 2020. Clark and the Red Bulls are scheduled to host Toronto FC on Saturday (1 p.m. ET).

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.)

Friday

  • Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN+)

Saturday

  • Chicago Fire FC vs. Philadelphia Union, 1 p.m. (ESPN+)

  • New York Red Bulls vs. Toronto FC, 1 p.m. (ESPN+)

  • Columbus Crew vs. DC United, 1:30 p.m. (ESPN+)

  • Nashville SC vs. New England Revolution, 1:30 p.m. (ESPN+)

  • Vancouver Whitecaps vs. CF Montreal, 3 p.m. (ESPN+)

  • FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo, 3:30 p.m. (UniMas, TUDN)

  • Orlando City SC vs. New York City FC, 6 p.m. (ESPN)

  • Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Los Angeles FC, 8 p.m. (FOX)

  • Colorado Rapids vs. Minnesota United, 10 p.m. (ESPN+)

Sunday

  • Inter Miami CF vs. Atlanta United, 1 p.m. (ABC)

  • Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders, 3 p.m. (ABC)

  • Sporting Kansas City vs. Austin FC, 7:30 p.m. (FS1)

MLS news and notes

El Tráfico returns: In what is one of the premier matchups this week in MLS, the Los Angeles Galaxy will host Los Angeles FC on Saturday (8 p.m. ET) at Dignity Health Sports Park. LAFC is coming off a 1-1 road draw against the Houston Dynamo while the Galaxy are looking to rebound after a 3-0 shutout loss against the Seattle Sounders. On five goals early in this season, the Galaxy’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernández remains the league’s leading scorer and will afford the matchup plenty of star power. Fortunately or unfortunately for the Galaxy, the team seems to be living and dying by Chicharito’s scoring touch early in 2021.

Carlos Vela, the 2019 MLS MVP, has played just 22 minutes so far this season.
Carlos Vela, the 2019 MLS MVP, has played just 22 minutes so far this season.

Don't get left behind in Supporters' Shield race: Yeah, it’s probably too early to be thinking about Supporters' Shield contention, but clubs that don’t get off to a hot start will be hard-pressed to find their way back into the race later in the season, so it’s worth noting that Seattle and the New England Revolution are the joint leaders through three match weeks. The two clubs boast 2-1-0 (seven points) records. Seattle seems to be an MLS Cup contender every year, so they’re expected to be here. Less so for Bruce Arena-coached New England, which is proving last season’s deep playoff run was no fluke.

More CCL pain for MLS clubs: What was a record five MLS teams in the quarterfinals is down to one. The quarterfinal matchup between two MLS teams produced the lone league club to advance to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League. On Tuesday night, the Philadelphia Union secured its progression to the semifinal stage with an aggregate 4-1 win over two legs against Atlanta United. The Union's advance was followed up by Toronto FC (vs. Cruz Azul), Columbus Crew (vs. Monterrey) and Portland Timbers (vs. Club America) all getting eliminated from the competition.

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David Luiz to MLS? Typically, this wouldn’t be a space for tracking transfers except that Arsenal’s David Luiz being linked to MLS would constitute one of the bigger signings in league history. Luiz, of Brazil, is in the midst of closing out the English Premier League campaign, as well as his current Arsenal contract. Luiz, a center back, could end up at an MLS club, according to a report. The mere link of Luiz to MLS made him arguably the juiciest transfer rumor of the first month of the MLS season.

By the numbers

10: The Revolution (2-0-1, 7 pts.) is a draw away from securing its best start since 2009, but a win against Nashville SC on Saturday would give the Revs 10 points and tie a club record for points through the first four games of a season. The only other time New England accomplished that was 2005 when it won the East and went to the MLS Cup.

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Raul Ruidiaz (right) scored two goals in last week's Seattle Sounders win over the LA Galaxy.
Raul Ruidiaz (right) scored two goals in last week's Seattle Sounders win over the LA Galaxy.

MLS top 10 power rankings

1. Seattle Sounders - The club that has yet to miss the playoffs in its entire existence and reached four of the last five MLS Cups continues to show it's the class of the league.

2. New England Revolution - Bruce Arena's bunch might just be the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. Last week's win over Atlanta United was the club's first ever in the series.

3. New York City FC - After a humbling opening-weekend loss to DC United, NYCFC has now outscored its opponents 7-0.

4. Los Angeles FC - Unbeaten to start the season, but LAFC has been less than impressive heading into its massive showdown against the LA Galaxy.

5. Real Salt Lake - One of the big surprises of the first month of the season. The league's only undefeated and untied team gets a Friday night showcase vs. the San Jose Earthquakes to continue to show their worth.

6. Orlando City SC - Orlando City earned its first win of the season last week with an emphatic 3-0 triumph at home over FC Cincinnati. That victory included the fastest goal in club history, as Tesho Akindele scored just 31 seconds into the game.

7. Columbus Crew - Its CONCACAF Champions League quest has taken much of the reigning MLS Cup champions' efforts, and results in league play reflect that (two games, two ties, zero goals).

8. San Jose Earthquakes - For the Earthquakes, it was good to be home. After its season-opening road loss to the Houston Dynamo, San Jose returned to PayPal Park and steamrolled FC Dallas and DC United, scoring seven goals and conceding two.

9. Los Angeles Galaxy - The Galaxy will host LAFC in the 11th edition of El Tráfico on Saturday. For those of you scoring at home, the Galaxy hold a 4-3-3 edge in the series.

10. CF Montreal - Along with Real Salt Lake and San Jose, Club de Foot is one of the pleasant surprises of the season so far.

Moving in: New York City FC, Real Salt Lake, Orlando City, San Jose Earthquakes

Dropping out: Atlanta United (previously: 5), Sporting Kansas City (8), Philadelphia Union (9), Portland Timbers (10)

Others receiving votes: Atlanta United, Austin FC, New York Red Bulls, Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers

USA TODAY Sports Network MLS top 10 power poll voters: Pat Brennan, The Cincinnati Enquirer; Mike Craven, Austin American-Statesman; Drake Hills, The Tennessean; Jacob Myers, The Columbus Dispatch.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MLS schedule May 7-9: How to watch games on TV, streaming info