One of the major effects of the condensed Major League Soccer schedule in 2019 is a handful of midweek dates in which a good amount of games are played.
Wednesday is the first of many midweek matchdays in the weeks leading up to the break for the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup.
Before we break down the five matchups, we highly suggest you prepare two or three screens for Wednesday night since four games kick off within an hour of each other.
The headlining clash of Wednesday’s slate comes from Mapfre Stadium, where the Columbus Crew host D.C. United in a first-versus-fourth clash in the Eastern Conference.
As many have noted, the East appears to be wide open at the moment, and part of that is because the Crew and D.C. dropped results at home in Week 8.
Getting back on track with a positive result is imperative for the two sides, who also meet on May 4 at Audi Field in one of the many scheduling quirks of the 2019 season.
An argument can be made that the Crew need a result more than the Black-and-Red because of their upcoming stretch which features back-to-back road games in Houston and D.C. followed by two games in three days at home against both Los Angeles sides.
After establishing itself as the top team in the East in March, Ben Olsen’s side has slipped up with one win in four games, and a loss on Wednesday will knock it out of first.
The key to the game lies in the middle of the park. Columbus’ duo of Artur and Wil Trapp will be tasked with stopping Luciano Acosta, while Junior Moreno and Russell Canouse are faced with the tough task of silencing Federico Higuain.
Whichever team comes out on top of that battle could walk away from Columbus with three points in hand.
The marquee game featuring Western Conference teams pits the LA Galaxy against Minnesota United at Allianz Field.
The Galaxy have drastically improved from their 2018 struggles under first-year boss Guillermo Barros Schelotto, and they should only get better with Giancarlo Gonzalez getting more playing time at center back.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic receives the bulk of the spotlight, and rightfully so because he keeps scoring goals, but it’s worth noting the improvements made in the offseason by the Galaxy to stabilize their entire starting XI.
Although the Galaxy’s defense has taken a step up from 2018, there’s still a chance Wednesday’s game turns into a shootout because Minnesota United has a few in-form forwards in Angelo Rodriguez and Darwin Quintero, and the Loons defense is still a work in progress.
Wednesday’s other three games carry some intrigue. New York City FC is looking to continue its winning ways against Chicago, New England and Montreal are searching for consistency and Seattle has a midweek opportunity to bolster confidence against San Jose.
Week 9 Midweek Schedule
Chicago Fire at New York City FC (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
D.C. United at Columbus Crew (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Montreal Impact at New England Revolution (7:30 p.m., ESPN+)
LA Galaxy at Minnesota United (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
San Jose Earthquakes at Seattle Sounders (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Player to Watch
Jordan Morris, F, Seattle Sounders
With Raul Ruidiaz and Will Bruin banged up, Jordan Morris has moved up top for the Sounders.
Brian Schmetzer’s team is coming off a drubbing at the hands of Los Angeles FC, but it has an opportunity to reverse that result Sunday at home.
But before they can think about LAFC, the Sounders have to take care of business against the Earthquakes.
Not only does Morris carry motivation to score to help his team, but with Jozy Altidore out injured, he has a chance to make his mark on the U.S. Men’s National Team forward depth chart in the coming weeks.
Matchup to Watch
Nicolas Gaitan, Chicago Fire vs. Alexander Ring, New York City FC
Nicolas Gaitan gets his welcome to MLS experience on Wednesday by playing soccer on a baseball field.
The tightened space at Yankee Stadium could cause trouble for Gaitan’s creativity in the final third, and it also doesn’t help that Alexander Ring will be there to enforce that part of the field.
Ring knows how to play the dimensions at Yankee Stadium in his favor, and his defensive abilities could keep Gaitan off the ball, which in turn would limit the amount of chances the Fire receive.
Fantasy Player to Watch
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, F, LA Galaxy
It’s a double match week in MLS Fantasy so we’re going with one of the safest options out there.
Ibrahimovic has six goals in the last four games and he starts the week against Minnesota’s shaky defense.
A Sunday home game against Real Salt Lake should also help pad Ibrahimovic’s stats, which continue to be nothing short of remarkable.