MLS: week 15 talking points

Portland Timbers

Portland Timbers midfielder Darlington Nagbe

This week, only four MLS teams will be playing a league game. The Portland Timbers host FC Dallas and DC United travel to Canada to face the Montreal Impact. This are the last league matches before MLS shutdown for two weeks because of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

However, the American based teams will be in action during the World Cup break. The fourth round of the US Open Cup starts on Wednesday with Houston Dynamo and San Jose Earthquakes in action against teams from the lower tiers.

The Canadian based team won’t be in action because they do not compete in the Open Cup. Last Wednesday, the Impact defeated Toronto FC to win the Canadian version of the Open Cup.

Even though there are only two matches in week 15, there are still three talking points worth monitoring.

Can the Impact capture a second consecutive victory?

The Impact shocked a lot of people, including myself, when it defeated Eastern Conference leader, New England Revolution. The worst team in the league managed to keep one of the best offensive teams off the boards.

On Wednesday, Frank Klopas welcomes a very arduous opponent into Stade Saputo. After a sluggish start to the season, DC United has been a force to be reckoned with. Ben Olsen and his men have picked up 22 points from 14 games, and currently occupy a playoff spot.

[MLS teams in need of reinforcements]

The last meeting between these two teams ended in a 1-1 draw. Eddie Johnson scored his first and only goal of the season to help secure the point for an outmatched United.

The Canadian Championship triumph has Montreal players believing that they can pull off another upset.

Club captain Patrice Bernier said, “We don’t give many chances away. We create the chances and we manage to win tight games. We used to let a point or even all three points pass us by. Now we’re a lot more confident, and there’s a lot more intensity and energy in everything we do.”

Justin Mapp, Montreal’s best player this season, might have to watch from the sideline due to a groin injury.

Can FC Dallas take care of business on the road?

Oscar Pareja’s team heads to Providence Park to face a rejuvenated Portland on Wednesday. It’s going to be tough to pick up all three points in front the loudest and most energetic fans in MLS. The Texas club hasn’t been effective on the road this season.

Injury plagued FC Dallas might have to play without its best defender, Matt Hedges. The center back had to exit the game against the Colorado Rapids because of what the coach described as a problem with his hamstring.

[Injuries are jeopardizing FC Dallas' season]

However, the presence of an in-form Fabian Castillo should ease the pressure on the defense. The speedy winger scored this fantastic game-winning goal last week.

“Great confidence-building for Fabián going into next week,” Zach Loyd said of Castillo’s game-winner. “It was pretty spectacular, just seeing him do what he does: He kind of glides and dances through people. To put that finishing touch was great to see.”

Will Portland’s forwards stay hot?

It’s really amazing what a single acquisition can do to a team. Since the Timbers signed Fanendo Adi on loan, the team’s performances has been electric.

[Beware of the Portland Timbers]

The Nigerian has added to Caleb Porters attacking options. The second year coach now has three top scorers on his roster. Adi joins Maximiliano Urruti and Gaston Fernandez to form a lethal offense.

In the last two games, the three marksmen have combined to score four goals. Their linkup with the midfielders has been fantastic and Diego Valeri has been on fire.

Adi has been the most impressive of the three. The towering forward has scored a brace every time he’s been part of the starting eleven.

The forwards will get a chance to shine on national television when the Timbers take on FC Dallas on Wednesday.

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