MLS Talking Points: Jason Kreis returns to NYC, FC Dallas-Sporting KC collide and more

Call it reunion weekend in Major League Soccer, as familiar faces reunite in MLS Week 8.

Jason Kreis returns to Yankee Stadium for the first time since being dismissed as New York City FC coach, and he returns with an Orlando City enjoying an excellent start to the season.

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Familiar foes LA and Seattle square off for the first time this season and they enter in slightly unfamiliar positions. Traditionally among the top dogs in the Western Conference, they are both currently in the bottom half of the West standings as they look to shake off slow starts to the season.

Two teams near the top of the West standings face off in the week's top match, as Sporting Kansas City visits Frisco to meet FC Dallas in a battle of the league's lone remaining unbeaten teams.

Week 8 will also feature some new experiences, including Bastian Schweinsteiger's first MLS road trip, as the Chicago Fire travel to Toronto, and Atlanta United's first visit to Real Salt Lake, where Mike Petke will be looking to improve his record to 3-0 since taking over RSL.

Here is a closer look at the key talking points heading into MLS Week 8:

IT'S A BIG WEEKEND FOR ... JASON KREIS

Jason Kreis MLS Orlando City 03052017

Orlando City has been one of the revelations of the 2017 season, and Kreis' fingerprints are all over the success as he embarks on his first full season in charge of the Lions. Kreis' new job is clearly his top priority, but that isn't likely to keep him from feeling some emotions as he takes the field at Yankee Stadium for the first time since being fired as New York City FC coach more than a year ago.

Kreis' Lions take on Patrick Vieira's New York City FC for the second time this season, with Orlando City scoring a 1-0 victory in the season opener. NYCFC dominated play in the first meeting, but poor finishing doomed the New Yorkers against an organized Orlando City side that has gone on to win four straight at the new Orlando City Stadium.

Now Kreis has his Lions on the road trying to carry over their home success outside of Florida, which won't be easy against an NYCFC team that is 2-0-1 at home, and has outplayed its opponents in all three matches. Losing Ronald Matarrita to an ankle injury hurts, but NYCFC was already considering going to a 3-4-3 system to deal with Orlando City striker Cyle Larin, so Matarrita's absence may not hurt as badly this week.

Larin has enjoyed considerable success against NYCFC — seven goals and an assist in seven matches — something Vieira is hoping to counteract by deploying three central defenders. Where NYCFC will want to be careful is not letting Carlos Rivas have too much freedom. The speedy Colombian forward is still searching for his first goal of the season, but he does have two assists and his speed can unsettle defenses, and could take advantage of space created by NYCFC paying too much attention to Larin.

Defensively, Orlando City has gone from the worst in the league to one of the stingiest, at least early on in 2017. Jonathan Spector has been a key factor in that success, and he will once again have the key task of trying to contain David Villa. The Spanish star endured a frustrating night the last time these teams met, but after his heroics last week, scoring a goal from near midfield, Villa returns to Yankee Stadium, where he has been virtually impossible to contain.

DON'T MISS ... FC DALLAS vs. SPORTING KANSAS CITY

FC Dallas Sporting KC Matt Besler Cristian Colman Peter G

The final two undefeated teams in MLS square off in Texas when Sporting KC takes on FC Dallas in a rematch of a meeting at Children's Mercy Park. That first meeting ended 0-0, but you can't read too much into that result given the fact FC Dallas was resting several starters ahead a CONCACAF Champions League semifinal.

Sporting KC dominated play on that day, but will face a significantly stronger FC Dallas team this weekend at Toyota Stadium. FC Dallas' attack is adept at creating chances, but will be facing a Sporting KC team playing the best defense in the league. 

This matchup will feature some juicy individual battles, including Dom Dwyer against the center back pairing of Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman. Dwyer has been key to Sporting KC's two most recent victories and will be a handful.

The real battle will be in midfield, where Sporting KC will look to press FC Dallas and keep Oscar Pareja's men from finding a comfortable rhythm, which FC Dallas has succeeded in doing often this year. Sporting KC succeeded in disrupting Portland's rhythm last week, and has yet to allow a road goal this season.

GALAXY AND SOUNDERS LOOK TO OVERCOME SLOW STARTS

Nicolas Lodeiro Ashley Cole MLS Seattle LA 07312016

Raise your hand if you thought the LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders would both be sitting outside the Western Conference's top seven through the first seven weeks of the season.

Not many hands should go up because the reality is both teams came in with the usual high expectations. Even the Galaxy, with a coaching change and dramatic roster overhaul, still figured to do well, but Curt Onalfo has battled with injuries and underperforming newcomers. The Sounders haven't been terrible, but do appear to be dealing with a post-MLS Cup funk. Jordan Morris is in a sophomore slump and Nicolas Lodeiro hasn't looked like the unstoppable force he was last season. It should also be noted the Sounders played four of their first six on the road, and head to LA this weekend.

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The Galaxy have welcomed back Gio dos Santos and Gyasi Zardes from early-season injuries, and will be looking for them to boost an attack that has been leaning heavily on impressive newcomer Romain Alessandrini. Dos Santos hasn't hit his stride yet this season, while Zardes only recently returned from his long layoff that extended back to last season.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

Dom Dwyer Matt Hedges MLS 06192017

Michael Bradley vs. Bastian Schweinsteiger. No strangers to each other after facing off at the 2014 World Cup, and in the German Bundesliga when Bradley was at Borussia Moenchengladbach, this battle will determine the winner of this key Eastern Conference clash.

David Villa vs. Jonathan Spector. Spector helped keep Villa off the score sheet in the season opener, but doing it again at Yankee Stadium will be much tougher.

Dom Dwyer vs. Matt Hedges. Dwyer's been heating up in recent weeks, but he'll have his hands full drawing attention from Hedges and Walker Zimmerman.

Diego Valeri vs. Matias Laba. Valeri had a quiet night last week against Sporting KC, and will draw plenty of attention from his countryman Laba, who will need some help containing the Timbers playmaker.

Sacha Kljestan vs. Wil Trapp. Kljestan is coming off his best game of the year, but Trapp has been in outstanding form, and he and Artur will make things much tougher for Kljestan.

Benny Feilhaber vs. Kellyn Acosta. If you're Feilhaber, and you want to be back in the national team picture, then outplaying the in-form Acosta is a must. Sporting KC will need him to win this battle if another road win is on the books.

Jermaine Jones vs. Osvaldo Alonso. Jones likes imposing himself in the middle of the field, but doing that with Alonso around is much, much tougher. These two never hold back when they meet, and this meeting will be no different.

Miguel Almiron vs. Kyle Beckerman. Has Beckerman lost a step? This stiff test from the super-quick and dangerous Almiron should tell us a lot about where the former U.S. World Cup midfielder stands these days.

Jordan Morris vs. Jelle van Damme. Morris has had some struggles this year, but his speed could cause problems for Van Damme, who won't have the luxury of making runs upfield like he normally does.

Ignacio Piatti vs. Keegan Rosenberry. If the Union are going to earn their first win of 2017, they will need Rosenberry to contain the always-dangerous Piatti.

WEEK 8 PREDICTIONS

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TORONTO FC 2, Fire 1. Sebastian Giovinco has been quiet so far this season. This will be his breakout performance on a day when Michael Bradley helps neutralize Bastian Schweinsteiger and Jozy Altidore causes problems for the Fire defense.

UNION 2, Impact 1. The Union are the last remaining winless team in MLS, but that should change this week as Alejandro Bedoya and C.J. Sapong step up to boost the attack and Keegan Rosenberry helps contain Ignacio Piatti.

DYNAMO 3, Earthquakes 1. Can the Dynamo figure out how to stop falling apart in the second half of matches after strong first half performances? This is the game Wilmer Cabrera's team puts it all together.

TIMBERS 2, Whitecaps 0. After dealing with Sporting KC's stifling defense, the Timbers will relish the open space Vancouver will provide, as Diego Valeri gets back to his red-hot form.

REVOLUTION 1, D.C. United 0. The Revs attack has been struggling to find a groove this year, but the defense has been rock solid. We should see more of the same, though the Revs should be able to find a winner.

RED BULLS 2, Crew 1. Red-hot Justin Meram will provide a tough test for the Red Bulls defense, but Bradley Wright-Phillips is tough to stop at Red Bull Arena, even with the Crew making things tough for Sacha Kljestan.

FC DALLAS 1, Sporting KC 0. This one has to be a defensive struggle, no? This game calls for Maxi Urruti to work his magic, and he's done it against Sporting KC before.

Real Salt Lake 1, ATLANTA UNITED 2. Mike Petke has RSL playing much better, and defending much better, but Atlanta United is tough to stop without the help of a red card.

NYCFC 2, Orlando City 1. David Villa and Maxi Moralez surely remember the frustrating trip to Orlando to start the season, but things will be easier at Yankee Stadium.

LA Galaxy 1, SOUNDERS 2. The Galaxy defense is far from solid, and as much as Seattle's attack has been struggling to find consistency, this is the game where the Sounders offense clicks.

MINNESOTA UNITED 2, Rapids 0. After earning an impressive draw in Colorado the last time these teams met, a much more confident Loons squad will feel good about winning at home, and former Rapids Sam Cronin and Marc Burch should be key in the victory.


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