Never before in MLS history has there been 8 league matches on the same day, and yet Saturday that is exactly what will happen.
So this will be my match preview of 7 of the matches, as my Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders FC match preview will be coming Friday afternoon.
Red Bulls at Chivas USA (2pm MST - Telefutura)
So the weekend kicks off with the undefeated Red Bulls at the only defeated Chivas USA, if you looked at this matchup before the season started you would have thought Chivas would be breezing past New York, they hadn't won on the road in over a year. This year however New York has won on the road over mighty Seattle, and have yet to give up a single goal.
New York has found someone to help get the ball to their two very talented forwards (Angel and Kandji), in Sinisa Ubiparipovic and Joel Lindpere looks like he will be able to help with the offense from the midfield. Perhaps no change has been bigger for New York than on defense, rookie Tim Ream and Costa Rican import Roy Miller have boosted the backline and Bouna Coundoul has been perfect in net. So now they have a chance to go 3-0 by facing off against Chivas who have struggled out of gates.
With the departure of Perki for Toronto FC, it has left Chivas in what would appear total disarray. They still have some of their core players from last year Kljestan and Bornstein are the young lions leading a club that is trying to find their new identity. Losses at the HDC to Colorado and the Galaxy, and a couple tough matches coming up over the next few weeks could really put Chivas at the bottom of the Western Conference quickly, can they rally to get something going against the Red Bulls?
Chivas 1 - New York 1
The other matches after the jump:
DC United at Philadelphia Union (4pm MST - FSC)
This matchup could be better called the battle of the walking wounded, a total of 13 players are listed with some type of injury, and the Union also will be without Toni Stahl who is suspended for his red card in the Seattle match a couple weeks ago. It also cold be billed at the battle of the goalless, as neither team has scored a goal yet. Now with VP Joe Biden coming to town to oversee the match, I am sure that everything will be alright.
So at the start of the season I was among many that thought DC United would be a contender in the East and they still very well could be, as they have had slow starts before and they know that it is a long season. United did look much better last weekend against New England than they did against KC on opening weekend, and I believe that the addition of veteran defender Carey Talley is an important part of the change. United will need Quaranta to step up as the offensive playmaker to provide chances to Jaime Moreno (last MLS original, and all time leading MLS goal scorer) and Chris Pontius, the second year man who showed a lot of potential last year.
On the other side of the ball will be a Philly team that is looking to find out exactly what kind of team they will end up being, in this match they will be wise to listen to and follow the lead of former DC United midfielder Fred, and leverage the talent of Sebastien Le Toux who is used to the expansion team theme having joined the Union from Seattle. I expect that their defense will start coming together as the talent of Shavar Thomas, Jordan Harvey, and Danny Califf with the youth of Michael Orozco. Can they work together in front of Chris Seitz, or will they lack the focus they showed against Seattle? I hate to say it but I have a feeling it will take a while for Philly to get to the level that their fans expect.
DC United 1 - Philly Union 0
Toronto FC at New England Revolution (5:30 MST - Direct Kick)
So last weekend New England got out played for about 87 minutes, but it was two goals from Kenny Mansally (who no surprise is listed this week as a probable starter), that gave the Rev's the win over DC. Now they get to open their home schedule against a TFC team that struggled at Columbus.
I had a feeling that Toronto would be challenged this year, there are a lot of egos at play up north of the border and their habit of changing coaches more than once a season led them to Preki. Preki is a no-nonsense guy who is a firm believer in taking charge and having things done his way. Within the first two weeks of the season, gone is Ali Gerba, who was released, they traded away Marvell Wynne, then this week their team captain Jim Brennan retires with little notice. You have to wonder if DeRo is missing Houston about now?
New England is simply looking to keep their head above water until they can try to recover from the injury bug, out are Matt Reis and Taylor Twellman, while Shalrie Joseph and Darrius Barnes are listed as probable. I was very impressed last weekend with the play of Emmanuel Osei, another of the Steve Nicol finds in Ghana. How he continues to get such great results from the players the Rev's find in Africa is simply amazing. If they can stay close while they wait for guys to get healthy, well New England could be the monsters of the East when they are back to 100%. For all their changes and questions, I think New England will simply be too much for what appears to be a disorganized team and organization in Toronto.
New England 2 - Toronto FC 1
Colorado Rapids at Kansas City Wizards (6:30 MST - Direct Kick)
A lot will be told about the status of these two teams this weekend, KC dominated DC United 4-0 opening weekend, while Colorado got a road win against Chivas and last weekend they got a 2-2 draw with the Chicago Fire. So will one of these teams step up to prove they are the real deal?
Colorado is simply taking advantage of Omar Cummings who is one of the hottest strikers to start 2010 with 2 goals in his first 2 matches. While the Rapids lost Cory Gibbs to New England in the off season, along with Preston Burpo, they added Larentowicz and Wells Thompson. They also picked up one of the best young defenders in MLS by getting Marvell Wynne from Toronto. I think Gary Smith has put together a solid squad and with much of the core team that just missed the payoffs last year, and I expect that the Rapids will again be in the fight for a playoff spot at the end of the year.
KC, has a new coach and was a focus of a lot of attention in the off season but on opening day, they impressed many with their 4-0 thumping of DC United. They had 5 players get their first MLS start against United, and when you add them to a core that includes Josh Wolff, Davy Arnaud, Jimmy Conrad, and Jack Jewsbury it isn't hard to believe that KC may actually be a lot better than many experts predicted. They get the advantage of playing at the very cozy Community America Ballpark until their new stadium is built, and it should be enough to hold off Colorado.
KC 2 - Colorado 2
Columbus Crew at FC Dallas (6:30pm MST - Direct Kick)
Both teams had last weekend off and now they will face off at Pizza Hut Park, this will be the 37th meeting between the two teams and could provide one or the other with a lead in the all time series, Each has won 15 times and there have been 6 ties, if you think that they are evenly matched it gets better as FC Dallas has scored 51 goals and Columbus 50.
Columbus is looking to once again be the top team in the Eastern Conference and they have kept most of their team intact from the 2008 MLS Cup season, and last years Supporter's Shield. The only real change is that Steve Lenhart will be looking to fill the boots of the departed Alejandro Moreno up top with GBS. I believe for the Crew to reach their full potential it could well come down to how well Eddie Gaven and Robbie Rogers play this year.
Perhaps the best story line of the match will be to see how the prolific scoring Jeff Cunningham performs against the team he got his stat with. Last year the "hoops" made a huge run and were just a win away from a playoff spot, and they will look to use their very young roster (well minus their two keepers who are both 35, and a pair of 33 year olds in Cunningham and Hernandez. It will be interesting to see if they can draw more than 8,000 people, their announced attendance on week one, I think getting more than the 4-5,000 actual people who showed up. This one should be interesting but I don't know if Dallas is up to the task.
Columbus Crew 2 - FC Dallas 0
San Jose Earthquakes at Chicago Fire (6:30 MST - Direct Kick)
For the Quake's it is gut check time, after week 2 off, they head to Chicago and need to find a way to put their 3-0 loss to RSL in their season opener behind them. Chicago seems to have shaken off their opening day 1-0 loss to the Red Bulls, and pulled out a 2-2 draw with the Rapids last weekend. The hill will be steep for San Jose, who have just one win in 13 matches in Chicago, the upside is that they do have 5 draws. Last year Chicago struggled at home with just 5 wins and they were -1 in goal differential, giving up 17 goals while only finding the back of the net 16 times.
The Fire are without Blanco and I think are really still trying to figure out who will be the offensive creator in the midfield, they added Collins John to play up top with McBride, and they brought in Julio Martinez to bolster their midfield. It always takes some time for a new head coach to get a team to understand what they want and expect from the players and for Carlos de los Cobos it is no different. I think Marco Pappa could be the catalyst for the Fire this year, he has all the talent needed and it may just be a matter of him taking charge on the pitch. The questions on why Chicago let go one of the leagues top 5 keepers (Jon Busch) for the inexperienced Dykstra are still unanswered as he currently has a 1.50 GAA.
San Jose didn't make a coaching change in the off season, but they did make a lot of other changes and while they had a lot of preseason success, when they got down a goal in their opening match, they looked a bit panicked on the pitch. They have some great offensive players in Ryan Johnson, who had a great 2009, and one of the guys I keep waiting to show what he really has to offer in Arturo Alvarez. Their midfield will look to get things sorted out, as they got dominated by the RSL midfield and resorted to long balls over the top since they couldn't play up the middle with any effectiveness, they did have some chances created coming up the sides, but even that was limited. They will miss Chris Leitch who will be serving his red card suspension. While this team did look like a disaster on week one, they might just have some surprises for people before it is all said and done, just not this week.
Chicago Fire 2 - San Jose 1
LA Galaxy at Houston Dynamo (6:30 MST - Direct Kick)
Well when you have all the teams playing it is rare that you get two classic matchups but we are lucky, when the Galaxy head to Houston you know it is going to be an entertaining match, when it is being played for early season dominance in the Western Conference it simply takes it to another level. These teams finished 1 and 2 in the West last year, both with 48 points, they matched up for the Western Conference Championship and in both cases LA came out on top.
The team to the stars might be missing the biggest name on their roster but they still have the guy who is the biggest star in US Soccer, and when you have Landon Donovan on your side it usually means you can play with and are capable of beating anyone. Well unless he shanks a PK over the top of the goal, but rubbing that in would just be mean. The Galaxy midfield has been recreated via a trio of loaned players from Brazil and we will like see Cazumba and Juninho both in their starting 11, allowing Landon to go wherever whenever he wants. To beat LA you have to do one of two things, either stop Landon from scoring or stop him from providing the ball to Buddle. LA has 3 goals, each of them scored by Edson Buddle and each of them with an assist going to Landon.
Houston will be looking to break their 2-2-2 record against LA at Robertson Stadium, and while I expect once again that the pitch will be very narrow to limit the roaming of the Galaxy players and to give some of their aging midfielders an easier time of it. Brian Ching is out with a hamstring injury and that will put pressure on both the "Birdman" Dominic Oduro and Luis Angel Landin (hopefully he can find a way to keep his feet under him this week), can they find a way to crack the LA Defense that hasn't given up a goal yet this year? I think the key will be how Andrew Hainault performs on the backline, if he can find a way to deal with the LA attack, then Houston has a good shot at getting 3 points in the match. The problem is that I don't think he can find a way to do that.
LA 1 - Houston 1
OK there it is, a look at 7 of the 8 weekend matches, the RSL vs. Seattle match will be previewed later today after RSL practice.
My picks last week were awful, but this week I am confident that I am spot on and will post a perfect record:
- Chivas 1 - New York 1
- DC United 1 - Philly Union 0
- New England 2 - Toronto FC 1
- KC 2 - Colorado 2
- Columbus Crew 2 - FC Dallas 0
- Chicago Fire 2 - San Jose 1
- LA 1 - Houston 1