Heineken Rivalry Week 2017 is finally here, and it features three of the biggest rivalries in all of Major League Soccer.
Houston vs. FC Dallas:
The first game of rivalry week is the Texas Derby between FC Dallas and Houston which will be played on Friday, June 23 at 9:00 PM EST in Houston, TX, in a rematch of the May 28th scoreless draw. The two clubs play for what is arguably the coolest trophy in all of the MLS rivalries; El Capitan. Houston will look to keep the life-sized replica of an 18th century Mountain Howitzer Cannon and add to the all-time series lead that they hold (currently 10-9). Both teams will be aiming to win not only to take pride in winning their rivalry match-up, but to also move themselves closer to the top of the table. FC Dallas has a game in hand over Houston, but the two teams are tied at second at 24 points each. This is an opportunity for Houston or Dallas to gain a small amount of breathing room in the standings. FC Dallas looked like they were inching toward their old ways in Vancouver, and the full return of Mauro Diaz along with the fire power of Maxi Urruti and US National Team player Kellyn Acosta could mean good things lie ahead for the Hoops. Houston has not lost a game yet in their home stadium this year, and key players like A.J. DeLaGarza and homegrown goalkeeper Tyler Deric will be set on keeping it that way.
New York Red Bulls vs. New York City FC:
On Saturday, June 24, at 1:30 PM EST the New York Red Bulls will look to beat their bitter rivals NYCFC twice in two weeks. The Red Bulls were able to beat NYCFC 1-0 last week in the fourth round of the US Open Cup, and have dominated the series winning six out of seven meetings between the two clubs since NYCFC came into the league in 2015. This match-up features tons of talent in forward positions for both teams, with Bradley Wright-Phillips attacking for the Red Bulls and 2016 MLS MVP David Villa in charge of NYCFC’s offense. It seems that whichever defense can remain composed throughout the entire game will win. Luis Robles in goal, Aurelien Collin at center-back, and Sacha Kljestan in charge of connecting the defense to offense, it also seems that the New York Red Bulls are a more balanced team, even though they currently sit four points below NYCFC in the standings. The Red Bulls also have the home-field advantage, which means that to win this, NYCFC will have to stay focused and prove that they truly deserve to be ahead of their rivals.
Portland vs. Seattle:
Rivalry week ends with a classic Cascadia Cup clash between Portland and Seattle at 10:00 PM EST on Sunday, June 25, live on ESPN2. The two rivals faced each other in the Open Cup last Tuesday and Seattle was able to take the win 2-1. The intensity will once again be present as the series travels back to Portland, and Seattle will have to count on their veterans like Clint Dempsey and Nicolas Lodeiro to step up to the challenge. They will also count on goalkeeper Stefan Frei to stay in form as they try to push toward the top half of the table. Portland has home field advantage and an attack that will surely test Seattle. Diego Valeri and Fanendo Adi will look to gain valuable points that could push them toward being number one in the west and break the three way tie for second with Dallas and Houston. This game will be action packed, and will be a perfect end to an exciting weekend of MLS rivalries.