- Seattle Sounders remain atop MLS power rankings
- Former USMNT player Bobby Wood now in MLS
- Odds for this weekend’s MLS games
Daryl Dike is all the rage, and the emerging U.S. men’s national team player could have a brief stay this summer with one of Major League Soccer’s best teams.
Dike opened his 2021 account with Orlando City SC on Tuesday with a brace in Orlando’s 5-0 thrashing of the San Jose Earthquakes at Exploria Stadium. The goals by Dike, in the 31st and 49th minutes, also marked his first since the end of his successful loan spell at Barnsley of the second-division English Championship. Dike scored nine goals in 22 appearances while on loan at Barnsley, which declined the $20 million purchase option in Dike’s loan.
It appears Dike is setting himself up for inclusion in the USMNT’s Concacaf Gold Cup plans, as well as further European transfer speculation.
Dike and Orlando City SC take on in-state rival Inter Miami CF on Friday night (8 p.m. ET, FS1).
Here is what you need to know for the weekend in MLS:
MLS game of the week
New York City FC vs. DC United (Sunday, 6 p.m. ET, ESPN+): In year one with manager Hernán Losada, DC United has picked up steam in the Eastern Conference, defeating Inter Miami CF twice in its previous three matches to creep up the conference standings. On Sunday, DC United will travel to Harrison, N.J. to face 7th-place NYCFC at Red Bull Arena. D.C. will be tasked with stopping an efficient NYCFC attack. History will be on United’s side, having won vs. NYCFC, 2-1, in the season opener on April 17.
MLS player to watch
Bobby Wood, Real Salt Lake: The former U.S. men’s national team center forward is back stateside, suiting up for a much-improved Real Salt Lake team and making his MLS debut in Wednesday night’s loss to the Seattle Sounders. With fellow center forward Rubio Rubin off to a strong start, the addition of Wood gives RSL another goal-scoring option. Wood arrives in MLS after a decade of playing in Germany’s Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga for 1860 Munich, Union Berlin, Hannover 96 and Hamburg SV.
MLS news and notes
Houston Dynamo FC sale completed: The expected sale of Houston Dynamo FC to Ted Segal, the founder and president of real estate development and financing company EJS Group, was confirmed by the club and announced Tuesday. Segal, who also took control of NWSL club Houston Dash, completed the acquisition for around $400 million, according to multiple reports. Both the MLS and NWSL clubs of which Segal now has a controlling stake underwent rebrands in 2020. The deal didn’t include BBVA Stadium and the Dynamo’s training facility, which are owned by Houston and the Harris County Houston Sports Authority, respectively.
Chicago Fire unveils re-rebrand: Chicago Fire FC said farewell to the short-lived and so-called “Fire Crown” badge and on Friday introduced its new crest and “visual identity,” which will go into effect for the 2022 season. In the meantime, the Fire will continue playing with shirts and bench gear adorned by the lame duck “Fire Crown,” which was introduced in 2019 to a lot of criticism. The new crest is already being widely praised as an improvement. According to the Fire’s website, the new crest incorporates existing marks relevant to both the club and the city including the Fire’s original stylized letter “C,” the flag of the city of Chicago, and a Florian cross, which was also part of the original badge.
New pro league: On Monday, MLS officials announced plans to launch a new professional league in 2022 that will complete the development pathway, giving players a direct ramp to the league from the youth ranks of its clubs. The yet-to-be-branded league, which also will see teams positioned in non-MLS markets, will consist of 20 MLS-affiliated clubs along with the potential for independently owned teams for the inaugural season in 2022. League play will begin in late March and conclude with playoffs in the fall and a championship match in early December, league officials announced. Further details about the league will be unveiled throughout 2021.
Columbus Crew close out stadium in true ‘Dos a Cero’ fashion: The Columbus Crew closed out Crew Stadium, the first soccer-specific venue built for an MLS team, in style with a 2-0 win against the Chicago Fire on June 19. Gyasi Zardes notched a brace to clinch the historic venue’s last-ever “Dos a Cero” final score. Crew Stadium, later named Mapfre Stadium, wasn’t just home to a Columbus franchise that won two MLS Cups and multiple major trophies during the club’s stay there. It was also a fortress for the American men’s and women’s national teams. The U.S. men went 8-1-3 at the venue over 12 matches and defeated Mexico in World Cup qualifying four times by the famous 2-0, or “Dos a Cero,” score line. The USMNT didn’t lose at the venue until the final World Cup qualifier there, a 2-1 loss to Mexico on Nov. 11, 2016. The U.S. women were undefeated at Crew Stadium (6-0-1), which included a group-stage victory against North Korea in the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
MLS power rankings: Top 10 power poll
1. Seattle Sounders: By starting the season 7-0-3, the Sounders are the first team since 2014 (Real Salt Lake) to open a season with 10 straight games without a loss. A plus-13 goal differential also is the best in the league.
2. New England Revolution: New England sits atop the Eastern Conference with 23 points, five more than second-place Orlando and Philadelphia. The Revolution are on a five-match winning streak and haven’t lost since the 2-0 defeat at Nashville on May 8.
3. Philadelphia Union: With a big midweek win over the reigning MLS Cup champion Columbus Crew on Wednesday night, the Union now have an unbeaten streak of seven games.
4. Columbus Crew: A challenging week for the Crew got off to a rough start in Philadelphia. Now, a weekend trip to Austin awaits in what is sure to be an emotional initial showdown against the team owned by Anthony Precourt, who had threatened to move the Crew to Austin before the team was sold to a new ownership group.
5. Orlando City SC: After coming off its only loss of the season, Orlando City used the break to regroup, firing back with a 3-2 win over Toronto on June 19 and then a 5-0 drubbing of the San Jose Earthquakes on Tuesday. A Sunshine State matchup awaits Friday when Orlando City heads to Miami.
6. Sporting Kansas City: No team was hotter than SKC entering the first break of the schedule. A three-game winning streak was broken last weekend in a 2-1 road defeat in Portland, but SKC got back in the win column after defeating the Colorado Rapids 3-1 on Wednesday night. Sporting’s 20 points is still good enough for second place in the Western Conference albeit in a league-high 11 games.
7. Los Angeles Galaxy: Two of the Galaxy’s three losses came to Seattle, including the recent 2-1 loss at home. It’s been feast of famine for Los Angeles so far in 2021 as one of only two teams in the league without a draw.
8. Colorado Rapids: Colorado has been a surprise this season, but it hits a three-game stretch that could be telling about if the Rapids are a legit playoff contender or not. It didn’t open great, losing 3-1 in Kansas City on Wednesday night. Next up are home games against the 2020 Western Conference finalists: Seattle Sounders on July 4 and Minnesota United on July 7.
9. Portland Timbers: Portland endured its first draw of the season Wednesday night in Houston. On Saturday, the Timbers host a Minnesota United team that is unbeaten in its last five games.
10. Real Salt Lake: Salt Lake is one of four clubs in the Western Conference with a positive goal differential.
Moving in: Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake
Dropping out: New York City FC (previously: 7), Nashville SC (9)
Others receiving votes: New York Red Bulls, New York City FC, 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; Jim Reineking, USA TODAY.
MLS weekend games: How to watch, odds
(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.)
Inter Miami CF vs. Orlando City SC, 8 p.m. ET (FS1)
- Odds: MIA (+190), Tie (+240), ORL (+125)
Sporting Kansas City vs. Los Angeles FC, 5:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
- Odds: SKC (+130), Tie (+250), LAFC (+180)
Toronto FC vs. FC Cincinnati, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
- Odds: TOR (-185), Tie (+310), CIN (+425)
Chicago Fire FC vs. Philadelphia Union, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
- Odds: CHI (+150), Tie (+260), PHI (+150)
Real Salt Lake vs. Houston Dynamo, 8 p.m. ET (UniMas/TUDN, Twitter)
- Odds: RSL (+105), Tie (+240), HOU (+230)
Nashville SC vs. CF Montreal, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
- Odds: NSH (-165), Tie (+260), MTL (+475)
Seattle Sounders vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
- Odds: SEA (-300), Tie (+375), VAN (+725)
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Los Angeles Galaxy, 10 p.m. ET (UniMas/TUDN, Twitter)
- Odds: SJ (-105), Tie (+275), LAG (+230)
Portland Timbers vs. Minnesota United, 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
- Odds: POR (-105), Tie (+280), MIN (+230)
Atlanta United vs. New York Red Bulls, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
- Odds: ATL (-105), Tie (+250), RBNY (+250)
New York City FC vs. DC United, 6 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
- Odds: NYC (-190), Tie (+300), DC (+475)
Austin FC vs. Columbus Crew, 8 p.m. ET (FS1)
- Odds: ATX (+135), Tie (+225), CLB (+185)
FC Dallas vs. New England Revolution, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
- Odds: DAL (+160), Tie (+210), NE (+170)
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