Goal-scoring machine Carlos Vela will be back at it on Friday at home against Montreal, while Eastern Conference leader Philadelphia welcomes in surging Portland on Saturday and a Alejandro Pozuelo-less Toronto FC hosts MLS goal king Chris Wondolowski and San Jose on Sunday.
Vela keeps cranking out goals for LAFC
Los Angeles FC is 14 games into its season and not once has Carlos Vela gone two games in a row without scoring. That’s pretty amazing to think about; you could certainly forgive Vela if he had a stretch of three or four games when he did not score. He now has 14 goals and seven assists this season, and he has gone goalless in just four contests. That is nuts.
It was an interesting week last week for Vela in the two games against FC Dallas. After scoring the opener in the first contest, the Mexican striker was lucky to not have suffered a serious injury on a late, harsh tackle from Bressan, which provoked the ire of LAFC head coach Bob Bradley. Three days later, the two teams met again in Texas, and there was another Bressan-Vela clash, which ended with Vela’s penalty kick getting saved. Luckily for the former Real Sociedad man, Vela got a second chance from the spot later on and buried his effort.
Vela will look to make it four games in a row with a goal on Friday night at home against the Montreal Impact (10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+), who are a surprising third in the Eastern Conference. Ever since they gave up that seven spot at Sporting Kansas City earlier in the season, the Impact have locked things down defensively. Vela is always a good bet to score at home, but it won’t be easy against a solid Impact back line.
A Philly special between Union and Timbers
You have to go all the way back to April 13 to find the last time that the Philadelphia Union lost a game. That was a 2-0 defeat in Carson, California, to the LA Galaxy. Since then, Jim Curtin’s team has collected four wins and a pair of draws on its way to the top of the Eastern Conference table.
There really is no one player who stands out on this squad, and the goal totals reveal as much. The leading scorer? David Accam with four — and Accam is not even on the team anymore, having been shipped to the Columbus Crew and then acquired by Nashville, but remaining in Columbus on loan for GAM, TAM and an acronym to be named later.
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This all circles back to the point that the Union have one of the deepest squads in the league. And they’ll come up against another strong side on Saturday in the form of the Portland Timbers (7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+). After a woeful start — one point in its first six games — Portland has kicked into gear, and the match in Philadelphia marks the Timbers’ last road affair until they finally return for their home opener.
The Timbers made one of the biggest moves of the transfer window by acquiring Argentine striker Brian Fernandez from Necaxa. He had 13 goals in the Liga MX Clausura. And he already scored in his debut last week versus Houston. The matchup between Fernandez and Philadelphia’s center-back of combo of Jack Elliot and Auston Trusty will be a must-see.
Pozuelo-less TFC welcomes in King Wondo
Alejandro Pozuelo has been a revelation in Toronto this season since arriving from Belgian side Genk with five goals and six assists; but last week’s red card means the Spaniard will miss out on Sunday’s home contest with the San Jose Earthquakes (7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+).
It’s a shame to see that because it denies us all the chance to see the Pozuelo-Jozy Altidore connection that had such a sizzling start when Pozuelo arrived in late March. Altidore had missed several weeks through injury, but he returned as a substitute in last week’s 3-0 loss at Real Salt Lake, just as Pozuelo received his sending off.
Altidore will have to carry the load against San Jose, which is coming off a 4-1 win over Chicago in which Chris Wondolowski became MLS’ all-time leading scorer with his first four-score match. The 36-year-old had been reduced to a substitute role until starting last week, and Wondolowski certainly made the most of it.
Whether coach Matias Almeyda sticks with Wondo in the starting role is another matter. The Quakes are yet to win away from home this season, so the Argentine boss might opt to ride Wondo’s hot boot for another week.