MLS W2W4: Zlatan's Galaxy look to stay hot; Minnesota opens sparkling Allianz Field
Minnesota United christens its brand-new stadium against NYCFC (live on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2), Zlatan and the Galaxy look to stay hot against the Union, and Seattle and Toronto meet in a rematch of the 2016 and 2017 MLS Cup finals. It's MLS W2W4.
House Hunters Minnesota
If you haven't watched "House Hunters," then surely someone close to you has. It can be maddening to see the show's couples bicker over something as inane as a light fixture in a guest bathroom, but at the end of the day, everyone is happy with the house that has been selected. Heck, sometimes the real estate agent even gets an invite to the "Three Months Later" cocktail party.
Minnesota United have had no such qualms with their new home, the glittering Allianz Field, which will open on Saturday afternoon (live at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2). With stadiums going up left and right in MLS, Minnesota United's new stomping ground looks pretty sleek and, more importantly, it should provide a home-field advantage for the local team.
Unlike the defensively challenged Minnesota United teams of the past two years, this is a side that has clamped down in the back, allowing just eight goals. Winning three of five road games to open the season is no small feat, and that has been helped in part by Darwin Quintero, arguably the league's most underrated star and scorer of three goals.
The Colombian excels in anonymity, but Saturday will provide him a national platform to show the rest of the country that Minnesota could have something special brewing in 2019.
The Zlatan you love to hate
The mind-numbing statistics for Zlatan Ibrahimovic continue to pile up. After last week's one-goal, one-assist performance in Vancouver, the former Manchester United man now has four goals in just three games this season. That makes 26 goals and 11 assists in 30 games since his arrival to MLS a little more than a year ago. Simply incredible.
But don't expect Vancouver's Felipe Martins to be lining up to congratulate Ibrahimovic. The Whitecaps midfielder was none too pleased that his counterpart was getting cheered in Vancouver's BC Place. But the reality is that wherever Ibrahimovic goes in this league, he will have his fans. And judging by some of the sparse crowds thus far in 2019, it certainly wouldn't hurt to liven up some of these stadiums.
Next up for everyone's favorite Swedish striker is a home date with the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+). Unlike Whitecaps defender Doneil Henry, who dared state that Vancouver could keep Ibrahimovic under wraps, which it didn't, Union boss Jim Curtin has smartly decided to err on the side of caution and plans to keep his mouth shut in order to not anger Ibrahimovic. That's sound practice, but it's no guarantee to keep him from scoring.
Just like old times in Seattle
It will feel like the days of yore when the Seattle Sounders take on Toronto FC on Saturday (4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+), as the teams that met in MLS Cup in 2016 and 2017 will tangle on the Sounders' home turf.
Carlos Vela and Los Angeles FC might be getting the headlines, but Seattle has been equally good this season, with Nicolas Lodeiro playing the midfield maestro role to a tee and Jordan Morris and Raul Ruidiaz teaming up to score three goals each. In the back the Sounders are just as good with only three goals conceded, tops among teams in the Western Conference.
Toronto FC's arrival to the Emerald City is timely, as the Canadian outfit has found its stride with the signing of Spanish attacker Alejandro Pozuelo. The team that capitulated in CONCACAF Champions League play in Panama back in February is a distant memory, and it would be hard to name a more dangerous team in the Eastern Conference than the Reds.
There is also nothing more fun than rumors of a big-name European player possibly coming to MLS during the summer, and TFC has given us just that in the form of a possible Arjen Robben arrival. Right now only "exploratory talks" have materialized between the two parties, which means we all get to ask and wonder about it for the next several weeks until the discussions are officially dead.
In the meantime, it should be plenty fun to watch TFC try to do its stuff against its old final foe.