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Wizards and Red Bulls meet in battle of MLS Eastern leaders
by Ridge Mahoney, June 15th, 2007 7AM

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TAGS:  gold cup, mls

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[MLS WEEKEND PREVIEWS] The top two teams in the Eastern Conference square off after playing each other two weeks ago, reeling Chicago visits resurgent D.C. United, Toronto and Los Angeles play home games after swinging yet another trade, the Revs and Crew round off a triple-header, and with Houston off this week, Colorado heads to Home Depot Center for a crucial Western Conference encounter with Chivas USA.

NEW ENGLAND (5-2-3) vs. COLUMBUS (1-4-5)
Saturday, 6:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Sports en Espanol
If any, or all, of the USA Revs (Taylor Twellman, Michael Parkhurst, Steve Ralston) don't play against Panama in the Gold Cup quarterfinal at Gillette Stadium, will Bob Bradley let them play for New England against the Crew?

Even if the answer is no, the Revs still have enough potency to beat Columbus, although the questionable status of Shalrie Joseph (groin strain) is a concern. The Crew has lost two in a row and is winless in the last six, which makes the 2-2 tie these teams played in Columbus April 19 not all that relevant, unless Frankie Hejduk is freed up by Bradley and sets up a goal like he did for the Crew last time.

D.C UNITED (4-3-2) VS. CHICAGO (4-5-2)
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, HDNet
The Fire took the season series last year (2-1-1) and beat D.C., 3-2, in the final game of the season at RFK. But it has just one win in the last seven games and faces a United team that is unbeaten in six matches and looking something like the D.C. that dominated most of the 2006 regular season.

D.C. must replace the suspended Bobby Boswell, who was ejected in the 60th minute last week with United leading New York, 2-1. Ben Olsen moved to right back and scored two of his three goals from that slot in the 4-2 win, so Tom Soehn might just move Bryan Namoff into the middle alongside Facundo Erpen, keep Olsen at right back and hope for the best against a Chicago attack missing Chris Rolfe (sprained ankle) and Thiago (groin strain) as well as Chris Armas (hip pain) as well as Gold Cuppers Justin Mapp (USA) and Ivan Guerrero (Honduras).

Can United win without Jaime Moreno, summoned by Bolivia after a five-year absence to play in the Copa America? Of course. Chicago disappointed a packed house at Toyota Park last weekend by losing to Chivas USA, 1-0, and looks completely lost.

RED BULL NEW YORK (6-3-2) VS. KANSAS CITY (6-2-1)
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, Direct Kick, mlslive.tv.
Losers to hat tricks in two of their last three games - Eddie Johnson of Kansas City (3-2) and Ben Olsen of D.C. United (4-2) - the Red Bulls host the Wizards in a rematch safe in the knowledge that Johnson's call to the USA national team will prevent him from doing it again.

Still, KC does have Scott Sealy, limited by injuries to 132 minutes this year yet the scorer of 10 goals in 2006, including one against New York in the season finale by which the Red Bulls snuffed KC's playoff hopes. Clint Mathis was ejected in the first meeting and KC took advantage; last week, RBNY played a man up for the final 30 minutes yet conceded two goals in that span.

KC needs strong midfield play from Carlos Marinelli and Sasha Victorine to attack the Red Bulls back line, which is still sorting out the absences of left back Todd Dunivant and right back Hunter Freeman. If NYRB gets the ball to Juan Pablo Angel, success should follow: he's in the midst of a five-game scoring streak, with seven goals in that span. That's MVP production. Are you watching, Amado?

CHIVAS USA (4-3-2) vs. COLORADO (4-4-3)
Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET, Direct Kick, mlslive.tv
The Rapids lost both of the teams' meetings at Home Depot last year and with Chivas USA holding two games in hand, really can't afford to lose again. They won't have suspended midfield linchpin Kyle Beckerman as well as USA midfielder Pablo Mastroeni.

Coach Fernando Clavijo made three changes to his lineup, including the insertion of midfielder Jose Cancela, and tried a 4-3-3 formation before reverting to the 4-4-2 and still lost to Houston, 2-1.

Chivas USA left back Jonathan Bornstein is with the USA, too, yet his absence last weekend didn't stop his team from beating Chicago, 1-0, on the road with Orlando Perez filling in. Goalie Brad Guzan has been with the U.S. squad, yet was released to play for Chivas last week with the U.S. based at HDC for its first two group games. This week, he's been on the opposite coast but will return to face the Rapids.

If Sacha Kljestan can find his feet on the right side of midfield and balance out Francisco Mendoza on the left, it gives Chivas USA more ways to find frontrunners Ante Razov and Maykel Galindo.

TORONTO FC (3-6-1) vs. FC DALLAS (7-5-1)
Sunday, 10 a.m. ET, TeleFutura
By beating Real Salt Lake Thursday with a stunning last-second strike by Dominic Oduro and posting its first shutout (1-0) in 20 games, Dallas might have enough bounce in its step to tango with TFC, despite playing a second game in four days for the fourth time this season. TFC has traded Edson Buddle to acquire defender Tyrone Marshall, but he is suspended and can't help replace those TFC players who are playing in the Gold Cup.

Yet going from a harsh turf field to one slightly kinder is sure to drain the FC Dallas legs and boost a Toronto team that surrendered two goals in two minutes last week in losing, 2-1, at home to RBNY, and was whistled by the crowd when the game ended. The honeymoon between Toronto and its soccer team is far from over, but only goals and wins can really rekindle the romance.

LOS ANGELES (1-4-3) vs. REAL SALT LAKE (0-4-6)
Sunday, 5 p.m. ET, Direct Kick, mlslive.tv
Well, Edson Buddle, meet Abel Xavier!!

The well-traveled striker, who arrived in a trade from Toronto, is the latest attempt by Galaxy coach Frank Yallop to spark an offense that is missing forwards Alan Gordon (foot stress fracture) and Gavin Glinton (sports hernia) as well as attacking right back Chris Albright (hamstring pull).

The former Portuguese international defender is a replacement for Marshall, as well as Ugo Ihemelu, traded to Colorado in the offseason, and the injured Troy Roberts, who had been projected to be a starter.

Los Angeles hasn't been bad defensively, with 11 goals conceded in eight games, but has scored just eight. Leading the team with two apiece is rookie Robbie Findley and Landon Donovan, who is on Gold Cup duty and is bound to play in the Copa America as well.

Yallop gets an ideal opportunity to test his new players against Real Salt Lake, which suffered a stunning stoppage-time home defeat to FC Dallas, 1-0, Thursday. RSL was within seconds of its third straight shutout and conjured up some chances but was frustrated by keeper Dario Sala and stunned by Oduro's goal.

Coach Jason Kreis was ejected from the Dallas match.



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