In the blink of an eye, Major League Soccer is back with a thrilling conclusion to Rivalry Week. We’re previewing four of the weekend’s biggest matches, looking at the biggest derbies in Ohio California, Texas and Florida.
Inter Miami CF vs Orlando City SC
Miami had won five matches in a row in all competitions before a loss to Nashville in mid-week ended that streak. Still, there’s a sense this team is starting to go through the gears, as winter signing Josef Martínez finds form. Orlando’s season has been uneven, but they’ve proven to be a hard team to beat, with veteran goalkeeper Pedro Gallese a reliable presence in net.
FC Cincinnati vs. Columbus Crew
This derby, called “Hell Is Real” in honor of a sign on the highway that separates the two Ohio cities, is always a spicy affair. In the most recent clash between the two sides last season, Cincinnati scored a stoppage time equalizer in a dramatic two-all draw. The hosts are now top of the Eastern Conference after thumping Montréal in midweek, but Columbus are no slouches, either; only Atlanta have scored more goals this season in the league.
FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo
Dallas have the chance to win the proverbial Copá Tejas with a victory here, having beaten Austin a week ago. They’re in good form as well, having knocked off Vancouver in midweek, but will be wary of a Houston side who have plenty of dangerous attackers, as well as the experienced Steve Clark in goal. He leads a rock-solid defense that has conceded only ten goals to date.
LAFC vs. San José Earthquakes
After a brilliant start to the season, LAFC’s run has hit a couple bumps of late; they suffered their first defeat in Major League Soccer in the reverse fixture at the beginning of the month, and were surprisingly held by Sporting Kansas City in the week. The ‘Quakes, for their part, are led by MVP candidate Cristian Espinoza, and will be refreshed after not playing in the midweek round.