MLS notebook: Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers renew Cascadia rivalry; DC United's Ola Kamara on goal-scoring streak

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This will be a good weekend to bunker in either at home or your favorite pub and enjoy some soccer.

Not only is there a near-full slate of MLS games being played, four of the top five leagues in Europe - Serie A fans will have to wait another week - kick off their seasons over the weekend.

Lionel Messi could make his Paris Saint-Germain debut against Strasbourg on Saturday.

For the first time since 2004, La Liga will be opening a season without Messi on FC Barcelona's roster.

Defending Premier League champion Manchester City opens the 2021-22 campaign against Tottenham on Sunday.

Clubs such as RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund will attempt to prevent Bayern Munich from winning a 10th consecutive Bundesliga title.

After missing the first half of the season, Nicolas Lodeiro is back for the Seattle Sounders, including scoring a goal in his team's Leagues Cup win over Tigres.
After missing the first half of the season, Nicolas Lodeiro is back for the Seattle Sounders, including scoring a goal in his team's Leagues Cup win over Tigres.

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

MLS game of the week

Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders (Sunday at 10 p.m. ET on FS1): The Cascadia Derby is back and so is Sounders captain Nico Lodeiro. A knee injury sidelined the midfield talisman for all but 27 minutes since May. But on Tuesday, Lodeiro played 25 minutes in Seattle’s 3-0 Leagues Cup victory over Mexico’s Tigres UANL. He also scored, which was Lodeiro’s first goal since November 2020. Seattle comes into Sunday’s primetime matchup having won the Derby on May 9, 2-1. The Timbers have drawn with the San Jose Earthquakes and defeated Real Salt Lake in their last two matches.

MLS player to watch

Ola Kamara, DC United: Kamara ranks with the Seattle Sounders’ Raúl Ruidíaz and New England Revolution’s Gustavo Bou as the league’s top goal-scorers. What sets Kamara apart, however, is his five-match scoring streak, the longest in his MLS career. The 31-year-old forward has scored six goals in that span, leading DC United (8-7-3, 28 points) into the Eastern Conference playoff picture. United has won its last three matches, all against playoff contenders. On the road Sunday at Nashville SC (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+), Kamara will be one Nashville keys in on.

Ola Kamara reacts after scoring a goal against the New York Red Bulls at Audi Field.
Ola Kamara reacts after scoring a goal against the New York Red Bulls at Audi Field.

MLS news and notes

Struggling flagship franchises square off on national TV: Los Angeles FC has gone five straight matches without a win. Atlanta United is sitting six points below the playoff line in the Eastern Conference. The two MLS flagship franchises currently are nowhere near the level of play and excitement they enjoyed just a couple years ago. Still, a rare Eastern Conference-Western Conference showdown that seemed promising when the 2021 schedule came out months ago gets a national-TV showcase Sunday (4 p.m. ET on ESPN).

The two teams have met twice. The first time, Atlanta United trounced LAFC in its expansion season, 5-0, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium en route to winning the 2018 MLS Cup. A year later at Banc of California Stadium, LAFC defeated Atlanta in a 4-3 thriller en route to winning the Supporters' Shield. Fans can only hope that despite these two teams' struggles this season that they can replicate that kind of goal-scoring prowess on Sunday.

FC Dallas turning Frisco into a fortress: With last week's 2-0 win over new in-state rival Austin FC at Toyota Stadium, FC Dallas pushed its home unbeaten streak to 19 games, a run that dates back to Aug. 16, 2020. Dallas will put its home unbeaten streak on the line Saturday against Western Conference-leading Sporting Kansas City, and can move into a tie for the seventh-longest home unbeaten streak in MLS history with a win or tie. The longest such streak in league history? That's 30 straight unbeaten at home for the Houston Dynamo from July 9, 2011 to April 28, 2013, during which the Dynamo made their last two MLS Cup appearances.

Future star of the Chicago Fire? So, what were you doing at 17? Last week, Chicago Fire FC homegrown player Gabriel Slonina became the youngest goalkeeper to start an MLS game and also register a clean sheet, shutting out a New York City FC team that had been scoring goals in bunches. At 17 years and 81 days old, Slonina broke the youngest goalkeeper record set by David Monsalve, who made his one and only MLS appearance in 2007 at the age of 18 years and 220 days old.

By the numbers

400: By either starting, or coming on as a substitute, in Nashville SC's game Sunday against DC United, Dax McCarty will become the sixth player in MLS history with 400 appearances. Only Nick Rimando (514), Kyle Beckerman (498), Jeff Larentowicz (437), Kevin Hartman (416) and Chad Marshall (409) have played in more MLS games. San Jose Earthquakes icon Chris Wondolowski (398) and Colorado Rapids' Drew Moor (397) also can soon reach this career milestone.

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MLS rankings: Top 10 power poll

1. New England Revolution: The Revolution remain atop the MLS power poll following a 2-1 victory over Philadelphia over the weekend. New England is 10 points clear of second-place Orlando City in the Eastern Conference and six points ahead of Sporting Kansas City for the race toward a Supporters' Shield. Its 35 goals scored are most in the league.

2. Sporting Kansas City: The plus-13 goal differential for Sporting Kansas City is tied with New England for best in MLS. Sporting is one point clear of the Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference after 18 matches played. Consistency is the key for Kansas City. The club has only lost one game since June 19. Sporting’s 33 goals scored are four more than any other team in its conference.

3. Seattle Sounders: Roster hurdles brought Seattle back to earth after a historic start to the season. The Sounders limped into August with three losses in four games, including the 1-0 loss at Minnesota that broke its unbeaten streak. Seattle must now maneuver around a busy week that started Tuesday night with a Leagues Cup match vs. Tigres - which the Sounders won 3-0 - and Sunday's Cascadia Derby showdown against Portland.

4. New York City FC: NYCFC is in third place in the Eastern Conference despite playing fewer games than any other club inside the conference’s playoff spots. The club started August with draws against Chicago and Toronto. Its five-game unbeaten streak extends back to the fluky 2-1 defeat at Columbus on July 17. NYCFC has only allowed three goals during that five-match span.

5. Orlando City SC: Nani is propelling Orlando City into Eastern Conference contention with his unique ability to score goals from seemingly nowhere. He’s scored nine in 15 matches. No other player on the squad has scored more than three goals in the entire season. Orlando does get scoring from a variety different places, however. Eleven different players have scored goals for Orlando City in 2021.

6. Los Angeles Galaxy: The absence of Javier "Chicharito" Hernández, who missed his eighth consecutive match on Sunday - a 1-1 draw against bottom-feeding Vancouver - hasn’t hurt the Galaxy much in the standings. Los Angeles’ 32 points are third-most in the Western Conference and only two behind Sporting Kansas City for the top spot through 18 matches. Its 29 goals scored are second-best in the West.

7. Philadelphia Union: There is no shame in dropping a 2-1 road match at New England considering the current form of the league-leading Revolution. Philadelphia is another MLS team juggling participation in a competition against Liga MX teams - in the Union's case, the Concacaf Champions League - with a hectic MLS summer schedule that includes seven total matches in August.

8. Nashville SC: Nashville last won a match on July 24 against Cincinnati. If we can all agree a win against Cincinnati barely counts as a legit MLS win. The last time the club defeated a playoff team was in a 1-0 win at home against the Philadelphia Union on July 3. Nashville does possess a league-low two losses.

9. Colorado Rapids: The Rapids quietly sit in fourth place in the Western Conference with 28 points through 16 matches, which is two fewer games played than any of the three teams located above Colorado in the conference standings. There is nothing flashy about Colorado, however, with its leading scorer sitting on four goals.

10. Minnesota United: Minnesota’s overcome a wretched start to the 2021 regular season to climb into playoff contention in the Western Conference. Its last loss came to Colorado on July 7. United began the season with four consecutive losses, but it is currently on a five-game unbeaten streak.

Moving in: Minnesota United

Dropping out: Los Angeles FC (previously: 10)

Others receiving votes: DC United

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.

Minnesota United players celebrate after defeating the Houston Dynamo at Allianz Field on Aug. 7.
Minnesota United players celebrate after defeating the Houston Dynamo at Allianz Field on Aug. 7.

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.)

Friday

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

Saturday

Minnesota United vs. Los Angeles Galaxy, 6 p.m. ET (FOX)

CF Montreal vs. New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

New York City FC vs. Inter Miami CF, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

Toronto FC vs. New England Revolution, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

FC Dallas vs. Sporting Kansas City, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

Houston Dynamo vs. Colorado Rapids, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

Real Salt Lake vs. Austin FC, 10 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

Sunday

Atlanta United vs. Los Angeles FC, 4 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Chicago Fire FC vs. Columbus Crew, 6 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

Nashville SC vs. DC United, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders, 10 p.m. ET (FS1)

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