FC DALLAS (5-5-1) vs. LOS ANGELES (1-3-3)
Saturday, 8:30 p.m. HDNet, Direct Kick, mlslive.tv
Dallas hasn't gone bad, it just seems that way. It has lost two in a row and both were on the road, which wouldn't be an excuse, just a cause, except for in its previous road games it beat Kansas City and Chicago.
The bugaboo going into this season, as in the past few seasons, was defense and FCD has yet to post a shutout. Coach Steve Morrow is still awaiting the return to action of Adrian Serioux, who is training but still sidelined. Clarence Goodson has a hamstring problem but is expected to play.
That would seem to be the ideal team against which Los Angeles can solve its scoring woes, yet the Galaxy overran the D.C. defense last week in the first half and still couldn't score in a 0-0 tie, and won't have Landon Donovan for this game as well as a few more. Nate Jaqua needed surgery on a fractured right wrist this week but Gavin Glinton and Adam Gordon rehabbing their own injuries Jaqua is expected to play wearing a cast.
The Galaxy player who isn't seizing his opportunity is Santino Quaranta, who did provide a good cross for Jaqua against D.C. but didn't last an hour before being replaced by rookie Robbie Findley. In 136 minutes of play, Quaranta has zero shots.
On the second weekend of the season, FC Dallas beat LA, 2-1, at Home Depot Center Findley got LA's goal. Kenny Cooper and Carlos Ruiz, who is with Guatemala for the Gold Cup, netted for FCD.
CHICAGO (4-4-2) vs. CHIVAS USA (3-3-2)
Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Sports en Espanol
News that Claudio Suarez is considering retirement stretched out a long wait for Chivas USA staff and players, as last week was their bye week. Chicago bounced back from a five-game winless streak to beat Columbus, 3-2, yet despite compiling 14 points is four points out of third place in the tough Eastern Conference.
Chivas USA beat the Fire, 2-1, at Toyota Park last August, giving it a sweep of two games played between the clubs.
Its dynamic duo of Maykel Galindo and Ante Razov each scored a goal to beat FC Dallas in its last game, and the Fire's defensive concerns in the middle have Coach Dave Sarachan contemplating changes. Jeff Curtin scored a goal against the Crew but a second yellow card rules him out of this match, and his brother Jimis the likely replacement.
Chicago's attack - deprived of Thiago (groin strain) and Chris Rolfe (sprained ankle) sprang to life against the Crew with William Oliveira's pace and slickness a welcome addition. He scored a goal after hitting a corner kick Curtin headed into the net from a slim angle.
D.C UNITED (3-3-2) vs. RED BULL NEW YORK (6-2-2)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, TeleFutura
This is the first meeting of these teams since a tense, tight playoff series went to D.C., 2-1, on aggregate, last October.
Christian Gomezscored both of those goals, and has three so far this season, but he won't be able to crack this RBNY team on his own unless it is completely worn out from rallying to beat Toronto, 2-1, Wednesday.
Yes, that was a TFC team shorn of 10 players, but the class and polish Juan Pablo Angel showed in scoring the goals three minutes apart is reason enough to believe RBNY can get a result at RFK. Feebler players than JPA have burned D.C.'s defense this season, and until its 0-0 tie with LA last week it hadn't posted a shutout.
United's Rod Dyachenko has recovered from a sprained MCL to make brief appearances as a sub the past two games. Neither team has lost any player to international duty, but New York is still without right back Hunter Freeman, left back Todd Dunivantis doubtful, and keep[er Ronald Waterreus is questionable.
Former U.S. teammates Ben Olsen and Claudio Reyna will square off in midfield and though D.C.'s flank play has improved of late, Dane Richards is a handful and Dave van den Bergh caused a lot of problems for TFC in the second half Wednesday. How well RBNY recovers from that game is the question.
COLUMBUS (1-3-5) vs. HOUSTON (4-5-1)
Sunday, 5 p.m. ET, Direct Kick, mlslive.tv
Times are dire in Crewland. Its has conceded nine goals in the past three games and won't have relentless right back Frankie Hejduk, who is with the USA. A groin strain toJason Garey and a strained hip flexor for Andy Herron further deprive Crew coach Sigi Schmid of attacking options, but as the stats (8 goals for, 13 against) show, scoring hasn't been the only problem.
Houston efficiently beat Colorado, 2-1, at home Thursday night and after sweating bullets in 90-degree heat, will probably keep it tight to avoid getting into footraces all over the field. It limited the Rapids to only eight shots and has no reason to run-and-gun with the Crew, which beat D.C. United, 1-0, April 28 for its only home win in five matches. True, it has tied the other four, but that's not how a last-place team makes up ground.
The Dynamo made up for the absences of Brian Ching and Dwayne DeRosario by getting midfielders Brad Davis and Brian Mullan into the attack whenever possible, but its usual style of pressing and pressuring may be too taxing on just three days of rest. It does have experienced players - Davis, Richard Mulrooney, Wade Barrett - who can regulate the tempo of play, and a Crew team desperate for a win may fall victim to a cat-and-mouse game.