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MLS Week 3 Preview: Hype trains, reunions and more

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The latest hype train to leave the station has Paxton Pomykal’s name written all over it in Sharpie. 

The FC Dallas Homegrown player dazzled in the club’s Week 2 win over the LA Galaxy, and by doing so, he caught the eye of plenty of Major League Soccer and U.S. Men’s National Team fans. 

Pomykal’s hype train was already gaining passengers at a rapid rate after Saturday, but that accelerated after an article in Spanish paper Marca profiled him and used a comparison to Frenkie de Jong, who will join Barcelona from Ajax in the summer. It’s high praise for Pomykal, who has a long way to go before the comparisons to the elite players in the world can come to fruition. 

But the 19-year-old is in the perfect place to thrive. FC Dallas values its young players and that’s evident by Pomykal, Reggie Cannon, Brandon Servania and Jesus Ferreira all appearing in the matchday squad for Week 2. 

While Pomykal is in the spotlight right now, there are plenty of other Homegrown prospects hoping to follow in the footsteps of Alphonso Davies and Tyler Adams and move to Europe. LA Galaxy midfielder Efrain Alvarez is front and center on that list, and in the small sample size we’ve seen from him during the regular season, he’s the real deal. And then there’s Memo Rodriguez down in Houston, who’s had a strong start to the season, but flew under the radar due to the exploits of Pomykal and Alvarez.

The list of potential Homegrown breakout stars is abundant with talent as well. George Bello is expected to see more time at Atlanta United; Djordje Mihailovic is in line for a bigger role in Chicago; Gianluca Busio is earning more playing time for Sporting Kansas City; and teams like Philadelphia, Real Salt Lake, the New York Red Bulls and others are committed to trusting young talent and continuing their development. 

With MLS in full selling mode with its young players, it’s a good thing for the league that players such as Pomykal and Alvarez are shining early in the 2019 campaign.

Week 3 Schedule

Saturday, March 16 

Seattle Sounders at Chicago Fire (1 p.m. ET, TSN1, ESPN+)

FC Dallas at Columbus Crew (2 p.m. ET, ESPN+) 

Vancouver Whitecaps at Houston Dynamo (3 p.m., TSN1, ESPN+)

San Jose Earthquakes at New York Red Bulls (3:30 p.m., Univision) 

Montreal Impact at Orlando City (4 p.m., TVA Sport, ESPN+)

Real Salt Lake at D.C. United (8 p.m., ESPN+)

Minnesota United at LA Galaxy (10:30 p.m., ESPN+)

Sunday, March 17 

LAFC at New York City FC (3 p.m.  ET, FS1) 

Portland Timbers at FC Cincinnati (5 p.m. ET, FS1) 

Philadelphia Union at Atlanta United (7:30 p.m., ESPN+)

New England Revolution at Toronto FC (7:30 p.m., ESPN+)

Sporting Kansas City at Colorado Rapids (9 p.m., ESPN+) 

Player To Watch 

Jonathan Osorio, Toronto FC

After a wild ride to start the season, Toronto FC comes into Week 3 fresh after a bye week. 

Logic leads us to believe the Reds will thrash the New England Revolution on Sunday night at BMO Field, as the Reds attempt to reassert their dominance in the upper echelon in MLS. 

In order for the Reds to unlock the New England midfield, Jonathan Osorio needs to work the ball through the Revolution’s defensive lines with his passing and movement next to Michael Bradley. 

We didn’t pay as much attention to Osorio as we should’ve in 2018, as he scored 10 goals and handed out seven assists. 

MLS diehards know all about Osorio, but a breakout year to become an even bigger star is in the cards for the Canadian international.

Matchup To Watch 

Fanendo Adi  vs. Julio Cascante and Larrys Mabiala (FC Cincinnati vs. Portland Timbers) 

Emotions will be running high for FC Cincinnati forward Fanendo Adi, who will be playing against his former team in FC Cincinnati’s first-ever MLS home game. 

FC Cincy is coming into Sunday’s game with some momentum after equalizing late against Atlanta United, but it’s still in search of its first victory. 

Adi should be licking his chops waiting to play Portland’s defense, as the Timbers gave up four goals on the road to LAFC in Week 2. 

If Adi controls the emotions of playing his former time and opening Nippert Stadium to MLS and channels them into his on-field play, we could be in store for an historic day in Ohio. 

Fantasy Players of the Week 

The New York Red Bulls Defense and Luis Robles

There’s no reason to just pick a single New York Red Bulls defender here when we expect the entire unit to thrive at home against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday. 

The back line anchored by Aaron Long and Tim Parker face a favorable matchup against a struggling Quakes side that has to come East for an afternoon kickoff. 

The Quakes only have one goal in two games and they’re still trying to find their way in Matias Almeyda’s system. 

In addition to holding a clean sheet and limiting San Jose’s attacking chances, the Red Bulls defenders could contribute moving forward, whether it be through the center backs on set pieces, or the full backs driving forward attacking the Quakes on the flanks. 

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