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Complete preview for MLS week 16: The Cali Clasico, NYCFC's future

Previewing the Cali Clasico and examining NYCFC's future.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Old and the Restless

New York City FC finally combined the old and the young effectively Saturday afternoon. They won 3-2 at home against a weakened Philadelphia Union side despite starting Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard in the midfield at the same time, and while those three points vaulted them to third in the Eastern Conference, it won't be enough to offset all those points they will drop later on in the season.

With Mr. Worst Signing In MLS History (aka Lampard) in the starting lineup for the first time in almost eight months alongside a guy who should probably be at the Euros (Pirlo), I was thinking Manchester City 2.0 would make like Mexico and give up 900 goals, because Old Guy 1 and Old Guy 2 up there don't play much defense. And Andoni Iraola (who played as the defensive midfielder behind Lampard and Pirlo) is a right back, not a d-mid.

But C.J. Sapong wasn't in the starting lineup to absolutely abuse Iraola, and the Union were a fish out of water in midfield without the mysteriously-departed Vincent Nogueira, so NYCFC had a much, much easier time preventing Josh Saunders from having to do something, until, of course, Fabian Herbers and co. got desperate and scored two second half consolation goals.

By that time, NYC had scored three times courtesy of their three old guys. Yes, Lampard, Pirlo, and David Villa had each scored before the hour mark, although rookie Jack Harrison — hidden in the shadows until late May due to injuries — was the real Man of the Match for this run to set up Villa's goal:

That's what I'm talking about when I say "finally combining old and young." They didn't have any young players until the 19-year old Harrison finally got first team minutes, so this is the first time that happened this season. For that matter, in their entire history.

Aaaaanyways, NYCFC face the Seattle Sounders this week, and this time, they will have to contend with a hard-working center forward: Jordan Morris. Also, they'll be travelling, and going on the road to Century Link Field from New York is a completely different element than going on the road to somewhere like Philly.

The Pigeons (loving all these nicknames they have, by the way) are the only team in MLS that have played double-digit home games this season, which is interesting, because they are tied for the least amount of home victories as well. When they are tasked with winning a bunch of road games in August to make up for those home losses with 35-year olds as the stars, it may not go so well.

Their current position in the Eastern Conference will not last because they dropped so many home points in April and May. Also, it doesn't help to have two starting midfielders who don't play defense.

Univision Excitement

The Cali Clasico Round Three is coming up this weekend, and this time, we get to hear crappy Hispanic commentators on Univision instead of crappy American replacements (cough, Cobi Jones, cough) on FS1. The San Jose Earthquakes will likely be lead again by their speedy CONCACAF contingent — Simon Dawkins, Alberto Quintero — instead of their veteran American core, which consists solely of Chris Wondolowski. Wondo is busy being played out of position by Jurgen Klinsmann, so Quincy Amarikwa will have a very different partner at forward.

It's possible we could see a battle of the 4-4-2s over at Stanford Stadium. The LA Galaxy played this gem of a lineup on Wednesday against Colorado:

football formations

Yeah, beautiful, isn't it? Nope, it's not. It didn't manage a goal at home even if was against the Supporters' Shield leaders, and it is compiled of players who have managed to score a grand total of zero goals in their last three MLS games. And a 4-1 win against a local team called La Maquina that includes your uncle in the starting lineup does not count.

Maybe we can cut them a little slack because Robbie Keane, Gyasi Zardes, and Steven Gerrard weren't starting (Keane and Zardes because they were representing their countries; Gerrard because he's old). Actually, maybe we can't, because Giovani dos Santos still exists, and they have an impressive wealth of options on the wings — Sebastian Lletget should be in national team conversation, Emmanuel Boateng is always productive, Jose Villareal would be great if he weren't in Arena Exile, and Mike Magee is ageless.

They should be able to do better than consistent zeroes.

Meanwhile, the Quakes played spoiler in Orlando on Saturday, because, let's face it, we were all cheering for Orlando City. Shea Salinas scraped out a last-ditch goal in second half stoppage time to salvage a point for San Jose, disappointing the rainbow flag-waving faithful at the Citrus Bowl (no, not Camping World Stadium) and vaulting them all the way up to, wait for it, seventh in the Western Conference. LA are fourth — although only one point ahead of San Jose, it must be mentioned — thanks to their early-season "be fearful of us because we're better than you and we're winning the cup again" run in April, sparking lots of "LA are amazing and can't be stopped articles" in early-to-mid April. We'll see that run again in August or September, by the way.

San Jose won't be facing good LA, though. They'll be facing the no-chance-creation Galaxy. So I'm not so sure the Univision crowd will be getting the most aesthetically pleasing match, I'm sorry to say. Not a lot of goooooool calls for Ramses Sandoval.