After 12 straight matches on the road to start the season, the Portland Timbers return to their newly remodeled home to face Western Conference leaders LAFC on Saturday, and Bruce Arena will make his New England Revolution coaching debut against his former club, the LA Galaxy, on Sunday. If that is not enough to whet your appetite, Wayne Rooney and D.C. United host red-hot Chris Wondolowski and the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
'Big Reveal' time at Portland's Providence Park
There is nothing quite like the "big reveal" moment on a home improvement show. After months of agonizing decisions, unforeseen costs and awkward spats with a handsome Canadian twin contractor, a couple finally get to see their newly remodeled home and all ends well.
There were likely similar headaches during the revamping of Portland's Providence Park that we will never know about it, but for now we'd settle for the image of Timbers owner Merritt Paulson rearranging the flowers on a table in a private suite right before the doors open for Saturday night's stadium reopening against LAFC (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN 2).
More importantly, on the field, the Timbers have emerged from their 12-game road trip to open the season in fairly good shape. Portland also suddenly boasts one of the league's most lethal attacks, thanks in large to the arrival of Argentine striker Brian Fernandez, who had a brace in his first MLS start last week in a 3-1 win at Philadelphia.
Paulson could not have asked for a better opponent for the stadium unveiling. LAFC have been the league's best team all season and is led by MVP frontrunner Carlos Vela. With Fernandez in the mix and Vela a scoring machine (15 goals in 15 games), this "big reveal" will have its fair share of fireworks.
Bruce to debut in L.A.
Even though he has not been on the sideline since being announced as New England Revolution head coach on May 14, the Bruce Arena effect is already being felt in the northeast. The Revs have picked up a pair of draws against top-five Eastern Conference teams, the Montreal Impact and D.C. United. The latter came despite playing with only 10 men for the final half an hour.
But a much bigger test awaits Sunday against the LA Galaxy (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+). It was, of course, with the Galaxy that Arena elevated himself to MLS coaching legend, cleaning up the wreckage from the early David Beckham days in L.A. and leading them to three MLS Cup victories.
And it's against his former club that Arena will take his seat in the New England dugout, having been appointed manager and sporting director on May 14.
But the Galaxy that Arena's Revs will face are considerably different than the one he left at the end of the 2016 season. While the Galaxy floundered in 2017 and 2018 following Arena's departure, the ship has been steadied under Guillermo Barros Schelotto. The Galaxy have also emerged from their four-game losing streak thanks to a defense that has returned to its early-season stingy ways, with two shutout wins, most recently a Zlatan Ibrahimovic-led 2-0 win at Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday.
Clean up in the capital
Draws for both D.C. United and the Philadelphia Union in midweek means that United stay a whisker ahead of the Union for top spot in the Eastern Conference. Dig a little further, though, and there are some uncomfortable truths at present for Ben Olsen's side. They are winless in their past four contests and have been plagued by some sloppy, inconsistent play, which was on full display in Wednesday's 3-3 draw with the Chicago Fire.
Some cleaning up needs to be done, but the club can take solace in the fact that Ulises Segura has found his stride after two goals in midweek and Wayne Rooney remains plenty productive. Speaking of production, that perfectly sums up the play of the San Jose Earthquakes, DC United's opponent on Saturday (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+).
It has been a two-week span to remember for Chris Wondolowski. First, he scored four goals against Chicago to become the league's all-time leading goalscorer, then added another two in a 2-1 win in Toronto. Yet the unsung hero in the San Jose Earthquakes' renaissance has been Cristian Espinoza, who assisted on both goals in Toronto. When you're hot, you're hot and there is no reason why Quakes boss Matias Almeyda should veer away from the Wondo/Espinoza tandem for a while.