So the MLS week started last night with the 4-0 drubbing of DC United by the New York Red Bulls, and there is another match tonight between Colorado and Seattle(my preview is here). The real action will be the 6 matches on Saturday and the great thing for fans is that they are spread out throughout the day so you can take in a good number of matches. Two early matches that will start at 2pm MT:
Chivas USA at San Jose Earthquakes - 2pm MT - Telefutura
After beating Dallas and getting a couple of home draws in recent weeks, I think people expected much more from San Jose than what they showed at New York last weekend where the Red Bulls really outplayed and outclassed them every way possible, ending in a 3-0 win for New York. Chivas USA did what nobody thought was possible, they kept the Vancouver Whitecaps from scoring a goal at Empire Field last weekend and earned a 0-0 draw but Robin's team is still looking for both their offense, they have just 3 goals scored on the season and 1 in the last 4 weeks and for their first win of the season. You know as a team when your leading offensive producer per minute played is a defender that you are in full blown rebuilding mode, while many were shocked that Chivas passed on Benny this week, for 400K this team needs a couple young strikers or one decent one.
The Quakes again find themselves looking and waiting for Chris Wondolowski, while newcomer Simon Dawkins has added depth to their offense the only player with a game winning goal for San Jose is Wondolowski. You have to believe that they will be looking to get their offensive mojo back against a stingy Chivas side (back to back clean sheets) and at home they should be able to get things going their way. This one ends a 2-0 win for the Quakes
more after the jump:
Columbus Crew at Toronto FC - 2pm MT - Direct Kick, Match Day Live
I used to think of BMO field as tough place to play but given that TFC has just a single win in the 4 home matches so far this year and got beat down last weekend 3-0 by DC United (yeah that team that looked so bad last night). Add in that this year you are seeing more and more open seats at BMO, they traded away their top player and now they have face perennial Eastern power the Columbus Crew at home Saturday afternoon. Normally the TFC players can count on their fans to be among the rowdiest in the league, but tough new rules could mean a very mellow BMO field, unless the team can score early and often to get the fans into it. Those duties will likely fall to Alan Gordon who has 2 goals on the year or Maicon Santos who has one, if they can score the question will be their defense improve from the 3 goals allowed last weekend.
For the Columbus Crew they haven't lost since week one and were able to get a 1-0 win in a very ugly match last weekend against Sporting KC. Neither side looked good in that match and they will be looking to add to their 4 goals scored on the season as it is clear that with so many changes to their roster in the offseason the offense just hasn't sparked yet for the Crew. The upside for Crew fans is that the backline guys (Chad Marshall, Sebastian Miranda, Julius James, and Rich Balchan) have played every minute of the 5 matches and together with keeper Will Hesemer they have only allowed 3 goals to be scored against them. I have a feeling this will be another ugly match and while I want to pick the Crew to win it, I am going with a 1-1 draw.
FC Dallas at Vancouver Whitecaps - 5pm MT - Direct Kick, Match Day Live
Well I used to count on the Whitecaps at home to be the most exciting match of the weekends, but after last week where they fought to a 0-0 draw that also featured only 4 yellow cards and no reds, I hesitate to predict excitement. They do feature two of the more exciting additions to MLS in the form of Camilo and Eric Hassli, both of whom have found the back of the net 3 times already for Vancouver. While no team has scored more goals than Vancouver's 9 goals, the downside is that there are only two teams who have allowed more than their 10.
Perhaps no team has been more of an early disappointment than FC Dallas, in 2010 they lost just 4 matches (tied for fewest with RSL) but with just 5 matches played in 2011 they have already lost 3, including a 3-2 loss at Portland last weekend where they were down 3-0 at one point before getting two goals in the final 10 minutes to make at least the scoreline look better. This is another team that lost a big part of their core from last year as Jeff Cunningham, Heath Pearce, Dax McCarty, and now with Vancouver Atiba Harris are all gone and that is a lot of toughness to lose. They do still have one of the most exciting players in MLS with David Ferreira on their roster but beyond him they seem to be struggling. This one is likely going to be fast paced and exciting, at least I hope so, I see it ending in a 3-3 draw.
Sporting Kansas City at New England Revolution - 5:30pm MT - Direct Kick, Match Day Live
Well this one features two teams who really need to get a win, for KC this is their 5th straight road match, the start the season with 10 on the road before they will open Livestrong Sporting Park in June, they currently have 4 points from their 4 matches but will be looking to improve that before their next 4 which could be brutal (@NY, LA, Seattle, and Colorado). For New England, they have just a single in in their first 6 matches, and are coming off back to back losses, but they should get a real boost as Rajko Lekic will be available for his second match with the team, and this week they got some other player, oh year Benny Feilhaber who should really provide some great midfield options for them. I still think with so many players either new or at different positions it will take some time for the Rev's to get it all figured out but they could end up making things interesting in the East before it is all over.
I had found the play of Sporting to be entertaining all year, until the painful to watch 1-0 loss at Columbus last weekend, not sure what happened but wow did they look like rubbish. I expect good things from this team as they have some fun offensive players in Teal Bunbury, Kei Kamara, and Ryan Smith, but clearly they have to figure out things in the midfield and deliver a solid complete effort. You know the 10 matches on the road will take a huge toll but this week is one of those matches where they have to leave with some points. Will we see the exciting team that went 3-3 with the Whitecaps a few weeks ago or the sleeper that showed up in Columbus? I am going for the exciting team as Sporting KC get a 2-1 road win.
Houston Dynamo at Chicago Fire - 6:30pm MT - Direct Kick, Match Day Live
Houston find themselves doing well in the Eastern Conference with a 2-1-2 record and they are doing it with solid defense and some great saves by Tally Hall in goal. There are still questions about who will be their goal scored this year and so far it looks like Cam Weaver is the most dangerous guy up top. The Fire had people talking after getting results in their first two matches, but three straight losses have shown that the rebuilding project is far from complete in the windy city. They have given up 8 goals in their last 3 matches while scoring 4, you aren't going to win many with a 2:1 average. I still think it will take Marco Pappa taking charge on the pitch for this team to get results, and with their newcomers Diego Chaves and Gaston Puerari often on the same page as each other but not as often on the same page as their teammates. Lots for Carlos de los Cobos to figure out with his talented bunch.
The Dynamo are a grind out results kinda team that have really been kept alive by Tally Hall who is making everyone take notice, a 0.80 GAA and just one loss, very impressive saves to go with it. I think there are still some questions about how all the pieces will fit together for the Dynamo but after spending most of last year rebuilding they are further along in the process than many other teams. I love the fact that they can put both Colin Clark and Brad Davis on the pitch at the same time, if they get a solid finisher they could really score a lot of goals this season. I am going to pick this one to end up a 2-2 draw,
Portland Timbers at Los Angeles Galaxy - 9pm MT - Fox Soccer Channel
Well the weekend will end with the LA Galaxy on national TV, what a surprise. No team has played more matches in MLS play than the 8 that LA will have played after tonight, what strange scheduling. Despite the very busy start of the season and several matches without Landon Donovan, the Galaxy have gotten off to a good start with a 3-1-3 record so far. The Portland Timbers are going to find out if they can repeat their magic of Jen-Weld down at the Home Depot Center, back to back home wins have the Timbers up to a 2-2-1 record. For the Timbers they found the scoring touch at home with 7 goals scored in their last two and now they are up to 9 scored in their 5 matches but they have given up 10 goals (only two teams have allowed more in MLS). I think people knew that Kenny Cooper would be good but far fewer knew about Jorge Perlaza or Kalif Alhassan both who play some very nice soccer. Can the Timbers figure out their defense, they would get a big boost in that effort if they can get Troy Perkins back in goal, but lots of questions.
The Galaxy have some questions on defense now that both Gregg Berhalter and Leonardo are out, it will put some pressure on them get some better support from their midfield as I just don't think that AJ DeLaGarza is going to be a real force at center back. Then there is the Beckham question, what to do with him, well this week it is easy he is off to the royal wedding (really, I couldn't make that up) but when he comes back the question is what role will he play? He has looked lost on the pitch this year while Landon was out injured, but if they can get both of them back on the pitch at the same time they might be able to figure out how to get the ball to their forwards. Right now the Galaxy are averaging a goal a match but also a goal allowed each match. This one is going to be fun to watch, I see a 3-2 LA win in this one.
OFF MY SOAPBOX