MLS notebook: Jozy Altidore could make Toronto FC return, Seattle Sounders aim to extend MLS record

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A former U.S. men's national team star is set to return to his club team after a falling out with his coach.

Almost two months ago, an argument between Jozy Altidore and since-fired Toronto FC head coach Chris Armas resulted in Altidore being told to practice on his own. Altidore’s no longer being kept in training isolation, though, and rejoined full team training on Monday.

That could prove to be an important development for Toronto, which defeated the Eastern Conference-leading New England Revolution last week and is set to return home to BMO Field for two upcoming matches.

Toronto’s looking for momentum to propel itself out of last place in the MLS table (2-8-2, eight points). Altidore, 31, is in his seventh season in Toronto and in addition to his prolific goal-scoring, he won an MLS Cup with the Reds. Armas was fired after a 1-8-2 start to 2021 and replaced by assistant coach Javier Perez.

Jozy Altidore has appeared in four - starting two - of Toronto FC's 12 games this season.
Jozy Altidore has appeared in four - starting two - of Toronto FC's 12 games this season.

Here is what you need to know for the weekend in MLS:

MLS game of the week

Columbus Crew vs. New York City FC (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+): This Eastern Conference clash between the Columbus Crew and NYCFC could be a momentum-shifter for both clubs midway through the season. Entering Saturday in eighth in the East, Columbus will face NYCFC twice, Nashville SC and Atlanta United before July is over. The Crew have played to three consecutive draws, starting against Austin FC and followed by intense matches against the New England Revolution and FC Cincinnati in the "Hell is Real" rivalry. Though the reigning MLS Cup champions earned a clean sheet against Austin, it's conceded four goals total in its previous two outings. NYCFC is tied on points with Columbus (17), but sitting at sixth due to points per game. A positive result against the Crew would put them in good position going into a three-match homestand.

MLS player to watch

Andrés Perea, Orlando City SC: The 20-year-old central midfielder for Orlando scored his first MLS goal last week, which was clouded by a 3-1 loss to Chicago Fire FC on the road. But Perea and his tenacious ball-winning ability against opposing midfielders and protection for Orlando's back line is what the Lions need more of. Still sitting second in the Eastern Conference behind the New England Revolution, Orlando has lost its last two matches. Perea can help spur this team back into winning form by simply dominating possession in the midfield, opening up the game for the Lions' potent attack, led by Nani, that's scored 20 goals this so far in 2021.

Andres Perea celebrates after scoring against the Chicago Fire at Soldier Field.
Andres Perea celebrates after scoring against the Chicago Fire at Soldier Field.

MLS news and notes

Toronto FC, CF Montreal set for home matches in Canada: Canadian MLS clubs haven’t hosted matches in their actual home markets since 2020, but MLS on Wednesday announced it would allow Toronto FC and CF Montreal to play at BMO Field and Stade Saputo, respectively. While the Vancouver Whitecaps will continue to await the greenlight to return to BC Place, the move to reintroduce two of the league’s Canadian clubs into their home markets represented a step forward for MLS amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“MLS made the determination in consideration of the substantial time players and staff have spent away from their home markets, and with Canadian fans and media in mind,” league officials said in a news release. “MLS remains in communication with the Canadian government regarding plans for MLS Canadian teams to host their remaining home matches in Canada.”

Toronto FC on Saturday will host Orlando City, as well as New York Red Bulls on July 21. In Quebec, Montreal will host FC Cincinnati on Saturday. Vancouver has two upcoming matches in its current U.S.-based hub at Real Salt Lake’s Rio Tinto Stadium.

MLS All-Star voting launches: Voting for the MLS All-Star Game scheduled for Aug. 25 at Banc of California Stadium launched Wednesday. Fans, media and players will combine to help select 26 players in order to fill out a lineup that consists of a goalkeeper, four defenders, a defensive midfielder, two attacking midfielders and three forward players. The fan/media/players piece of the voting process accounts for 12 player selections with MLS All-Star team head coach Bob Bradley selecting a further 12. MLS Commissioner Don Garber will make two selections, too.

With the format for this year’s All-Star Game moving from MLS players versus a large European-based club to MLS players facing Liga MX All-Stars, the Mexican league must also produce a roster for the match. To accomplish that, 14 Liga MX players will be selected via the 2020-21 Balón de Oro awards (July 17th). The winner of the Balón de Oro’s Best Head Coach award will determine which manager will coach the team. That person will then select 11 additional players. Like Garber, Liga MX President Mikel Arriola will select a 26th player.

Seattle Sounders look to extend MLS-record unbeaten run: When last we updated you on the status of the Seattle Sounders, head coach Brian Schmetzer’s side had set the MLS record for the best start to a season (8-0-5, 29 points). Seattle’s a long way from earning the “invincible” moniker popularized by the undefeated, 2003-04 English Premier League-winning Arsenal team, but the Sounders are obviously looking to keep the streak alive. Doing that will require a road result against Minnesota United FC at Allianz Field. The Loons are 4-5-3 in 2021 and 3-2-1 at their home stadium. Then, if Seattle passes that test, they’ll have to do the job on the road again July 22 when they’re scheduled to travel to Austin FC’s Q2 Stadium.

By the numbers

58: MLS teams are having to dive into their depth with 58 players playing with their respective national teams in the Concacaf Gold Cup. There are 11 different national teams in the Gold Cup with at least one MLS player. The U.S. has the most MLS players (19) with Canada having the second-most (13). Toronto FC, Los Angeles Galaxy, Houston Dynamo and Columbus Crew all have five players in the Gold Cup, the most of any one team.

Daryl Dike (11) heads in a goal as against Martinique during the Concacaf Gold Cup at Children's Mercy Park. Dike scored two goals in the USMNT's 6-1 win.
Daryl Dike (11) heads in a goal as against Martinique during the Concacaf Gold Cup at Children's Mercy Park. Dike scored two goals in the USMNT's 6-1 win.

MLS rankings: Top 10 power poll

1. Seattle Sounders: With a league-record 13 games unbeaten to start a season, the Sounders will look to extend that standard when in visits Minnesota to play the Loons on Sunday.

2. Sporting Kansas City: With 17 days between games, SKC gets to enjoy a midsummer break while basking in its perch near the top of the Western Conference and Supporters' Shield standings.

3. New England Revolution: New England had a five-game home winning streak come to a humbling halt last Wednesday against a Toronto FC playing its first game under an interim coach (Javier Perez).

4. Orlando City SC: After losing its last two games, Orlando will aim at righting the ship against a Toronto FC team that could be welcoming back star forward Jozy Altidore after a hiatus from the team.

5. Los Angeles Galaxy: The Galaxy can leapfrog idle Sporting KC in the standings with a win Saturday over the last-place team in the Western Conference, the Vancouver Whitecaps.

6. Philadelphia Union: The Union are one of those teams whose depth will be tested in the next couple weeks with key players absent due to the Gold Cup. Philly's first big assignment comes against a surging DC United team on Saturday.

7. Nashville SC: Could the team's new designated player, forward Aké Loba, make his MLS debut as Nashville looks to extend its unbeaten streak to five games?

8. Colorado Rapids: The Rapids are undefeated in their last five games at Dick's Sporting Good Park, where they will host the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.

9. Club de Foot Montréal: Montréal is on a roll, having won two straight and going undefeated in its last five games.

10. Los Angeles FC: A preseason MLS Cup favorite might finally be playing at the level many expected. A big part of the team's recent surge has been the play of goalkeeper Tomas Romero - clean sheets in LAFC's previous two games - and midfielder José Cifuentes - goals in consecutive games.

Moving in: CF Montréal, Los Angeles FC

Dropping out: New York City FC (previously: 8), Columbus Crew (10),

Others receiving votes: Columbus Crew, New York City FC

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; Jim Reineking, USA TODAY.

MLS schedule: What are this weekend's games?

(ABC/ESPN games available to be streamed on Watch ESPN; FOX games on FOX Sports Live. Games also available on fuboTV. Odds according to BetMGM)

Saturday

Atlanta United vs. New England Revolution, 5 p.m. ET (ESPN)

  • Odds: ATL (+160), Tie (+270), NE (+135)

New York Red Bulls vs. Inter Miami CF, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

  • Odds: RBNY (-135), Tie (+250), MIA (+350)

Columbus Crew vs. New York City FC, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

  • Odds: CLB (+140), Tie (+240), NYC (+170)

CF Montreal vs. FC Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

  • Odds: MON (+100), Tie (+250), CIN (+240)

Philadelphia Union vs. DC United, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

  • Odds: PHI (-115), Tie (+250), DC (+290)

Toronto FC vs. Orlando City SC, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

  • Odds: TOR (+150), Tie (+260), ORL (+150)

Nashville SC vs. Chicago Fire FC, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

  • Odds: NSH (-150), Tie (+280), CHI (+360)

Colorado Rapids vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

  • Odds: COL (-145), Tie (+300), SJ (+320)

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Los Angeles Galaxy, 10 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

  • Odds: VAN (+240), Tie (+260), LAG (-105)

Los Angeles FC vs. Real Salt Lake, 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

  • Odds: LAFC (-200), Tie (+325), RSL (+450)

Portland Timbers vs. FC Dallas, 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

  • Odds: POR (-115), Tie (+270), DAL (+275)

Sunday

Minnesota United vs. Seattle Sounders, 2 p.m. ET (ESPN)

  • Odds: MIN (-105), Tie (+270), SEA (+240)

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MLS games this weekend: How to watch on TV, streaming info, odds