Well Major League Soccer kicks off their first week of action on Saturday with 5 matches, 2 more on Sunday, and even one on Monday night. That means it is time to get back into MLS preview mode:
Colorado Rapids at Columbus Crew - 4pm MT - Direct Kick & MLS Live
Well this could be one of the more boring matches of the weekend if these teams play like they did last year, the Rapids had a +3 goal differential, and the Crew had a -1. Both sides have done some reshuffling since last year and both are dealing with some injury issues that could really impact the match, the Crew will be without Rich Balchan, Julius James and maybe Will Hesmer. The Rapids will be missing Conor Casey, Jamie Smity, and Anthony Wallace.
This one simply comes down to home pitch advantage, as the Crew were 4-10-3 on the road last year, while the Rapids were 6-2-9 at home. Going to go with a 2-1 Rapids win.
Montreal Impact at Vancouver Whitecaps - 4pm MT - Direct Kick & MLS Live
Well it may be the first time these teams meet in a MLS match, but these two Canadian teams know each other well from their years in the USL/NASL. The Whitecaps made the jump to MLS last year, and found out it was a lot tougher than they expected, they have a huge number of new players this year as well as a new coach as Martin Rennie takes over in Vancouver. Everything is new for the Impact who have built their roster with the expansion draft, trades, and some players left over from their 2011 team. This match will have a lot of emotion for both sides; Vancouver has built a very offensive minded team, while we still have more questions than answers about what the Impact will be able to do on the pitch.
Whitecaps win this one 2-0, as the Impact get a rude welcome to MLS.
the rest of the action previewed after the jump:
Here are the rest of the weekend's (and Monday's) matches:
Sporting Kansas City at D.C. United - 5:30pm MT - Direct Kick & MLS Live
This one features one of the top picks of most pundits to win the East SKC and the team I think could really surprise people have a 13 loss season last year, D.C. United. The reality is that DC United have been a very bad team the last two years, in fact they have won just 7 home matches combined over the last two seasons. Last year SKC won both matches by a 1-0 score, and this year their offense looks even more potent as they have added Bobby Convey into the mix. DC has added a couple of pieces as well, which could really help them out, Robbie Russell adds some veteran leadership to their backline and Hamdi Salihi up top with Dwayne De Rosario (the defending MLS MVP) could create problems for a Sporting defense that I think has some holes in it.
I am going to pick this one to end up a 1-1 draw.
New England Revolution at San Jose Earthquakes - 8:30pm MT - Direct Kick & MLS Live
Perhaps the two teams looking for the biggest turn arounds this season, San Jose has made some roster changes but nothing drastic, while the Revolution have cleaned house on and off the pitch. Which means this could be a very interesting match as both had some good preseason results.
I think the return of Simon Dawkins and Steven Lenhart to San Jose this year will take a lot of pressure off Chris Wondolowski, but the questions I have about San Jose will be how their defense can perform this year. The Revolution got their man Shalrie Joseph signed to a new contract, and their wonder kid Digo Fagundez was simply impressive this preseason, add in some Benny Feilhaber and draft pick Kelyn Rowe and this looks like a very different Revolution team under the leadership of Jay Heaps.
Going to go with the home team Quakes (NE won just 1 road match in 2011) on this one in a 3-2 exciting shoot out match.
Real Salt Lake at Los Angeles Galaxy - 8:30p MT - Direct Kick & MLS Live
This one will be getting its own match preview a bit later Friday evening.
New York Red Bulls at FC Dallas - Sunday 1:00pm MT - NBC Sports
The first match on MLS's new TV partner and you get some of the biggest names in the league as Thierry Henry will get a chance to match up against rising star Brek Shea. Both teams will also be without some big names as Rafa Marquez is suspended for a red card suffered last year, and the 2010 MLS MVP David Ferreira is still out with an injury. Dallas could get a boost from the return of George John from his trial with West Ham United, and who knows what the status of NYRB forward Luke Rodgers is with his visa issues. This should be an entertaining match for sure, even though it features two of the MLS original teams that have never won a MLS Cup. Like most matches in MLS, the team who scores first has a very distinct advantage, last year NY was 10-0-9 when scoring first and FCD was 13-1-2.
I think the road team shows up for the big TV crowd as New York gets a 2-1 win.
Houston Dynamo at Chivas USA - Sunday 5:00pm MT - Galavision
Well Chivas USA have let 13 players go from their 2011 roster, I guess we will see Robin Fraser's 2.0 version of the Goats this season, but a couple of their incoming players have me wondering about what might be, as James Riley, Rauwshan McKenzie and rookie R.J. Allen should really help their defense. While Ryan Smith, Cesar Romero, and rookie Casey Townsend should make an impact on the offensive side of the ball.
For Houston the story of the offseason was Brian Ching, from the debacle of leaving him unprotected in the expansion draft to what it would take to get him back, and they did get him back. Other than that there isn't a lot you need to do to improve a team that made it to MLS Cup, well other than getting Brad Davis healthy which by all looks this preseason he is ready to go. I think the addition of Nathan Sturgis and Macoumba Kandji both will pay off for Houston who should be a very good team again.
I think Houston gets the win at the Home Depot Center that they were looking for last November, this one is 2-0 for the Dynamo.
Philadelphia Union at Portland Timbers - Monday 7:30pm MT - ESPN2
Coming Soon- waiting on media guide.
So there you have the first of my weekly previews looking at all the MLS action. What are your picks for this weekend's action?
OFF MY SOAPBOX