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Red-hot Houston and D.C. United meet on Sunday
by Ridge Mahoney, July 6th, 2007 7AM

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TAGS:  mls


[MLS WEEKEND PREVIEWS] Two hot teams collide as Houston hosts D.C. United; Chivas USA and the Revs stage a rematch; Toronto FC and Chicago square off to see who can keep pace in the East; the Crew can squeeze the standings even tighter at home against Real Salt Lake; the Rapids and Red Bulls hope to rebound after being blanked; and the revamped (again) Galaxy get a stern test against Kansas City.

NEW ENGLAND (6-3-4) vs. CHIVAS USA (6-5-2)
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, HDNet, Direct Kick, mlslive.tv
His team was stripped of a few top players, yet still Coach Steve Nicol agonized over the Revs' 2-0 loss to Chivas USA last weekend at Home Depot Center. Chivas USA was shorthanded, too, and more or less manhandled the Revs at key points in the game.

The Revs couldn't capitalize on the 81st-minute ejection of Claudio Suarez and managed just two shots on goal. Adam Cristman headed a great chance wide with the net devoid of a goalkeeper.

Jesse Marsch scored - just as he'd done in August of last year against New England - with a shot off the inside of the post,and Maykel Galindo added a late Goal of the Week. This week comes a shot at redemption for the Revs.

For the rematch both teams should have their Copa America participants, and their condition upon arrival will dictate who starts and who sits. While New England had the midweek off, FC Dallas inflicted a 2-0 Independence Day loss on Chivas USA. Suarez and Paulo Nagamura were suspended for that match but will be back this weekend.

COLUMBUS (4-4-7) vs. REAL SALT LAKE (1-6-6)
Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Direct Kick, mlslive.tv
A five-game unbeaten streak has lifted Columbus into the playoff octet and a home game against reeling RSL is a prime opportunity to lodge itself even higher up the standings.

Missing three under-20 players but with right back Frankie Hejduk back in the lineup, the Crew slugged out a goalless tie with Colorado Wednesday night. Alejandro Moreno and Jacob Thomas were thwarted on good scoring chances; only two shots forced saves from keeper Will Hesmer.

RSL lost at home to Toronto, 2-1, after pulling even at 1-1 when Alecko Eskandarian won and converted a penalty kick. Robbie Findley and Jaime Watson hit the woodwork as RSL outshot TFC, 11-5.

The teams played a 0-0 tie at Rice-Eccles on April 14; since that game, Moreno has logged three goals and four assists in 10 games after being acquired from Houston. Eddie Gaven will travel from Venezuela, where he played for the U.S. in the Copa America, on Friday and could be available for this match.

TORONTO FC (5-7-2) vs. CHICAGO (4-7-3)
Saturday, 8:30 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Sports en Espanol
With just three days separating this match from Toronto's first road win, and no intervening international callups, and no trades conducted in the interim, TFC coach Mo Johnston will have the same roster as he did while beating RSL, 2-1.

Unless, that is, he needs another emergency goalkeeper, as Sam Reynolds injured his right leg in the 84th minute and was replaced by regular backup - to the injured Greg Sutton - Srdjan Djekanovic.

The most recent addition, Collin Samuel, celebrated his debut by hitting the winning goal from the penalty spot and he adds yet another weapon for TFC, which scored its first goals and posted its first victory May 12 by belting the Fire, 3-1, at BMO Field.

Since then, Chicago has won only once. It fell to the bottom of the Eastern Conference Wednesday by losing, 2-0, at Los Angeles to a pair of Landon Donovan penalty kicks whistled for purported fouls by Chris Armas and Ivan Guerrero on Kyle Martino.

It generated two shots, both by defender C.J. Brown, and neither hit the target. Jon Busch saved six shots, several of them in spectacular fashion.

LOS ANGELES (3-5-3) vs. KANSAS CITY (6-5-3)
Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET, Direct Kick, mlslive.tv
The penalty kicks earned by Marino may have been somewhat dubious, but the Galaxy's offensive show sizzled. Cobi Jones, Edson Buddle, debutant Carlos Pavon and Donovan all sliced through the Fire defense.

Kansas City did some slicing of its own against D.C. United Wednesday, but two stinging shots hit the post and nothing entered the net in a 1-0 defeat, the second such scoreline in the team's last three matches. The Wizards are mired in a five-game winless streak that has stifled their efforts to take control of the Eastern Conference.

Eddie Johnson and Jimmy Conrad may return in time from the Copa America to make the 18-man roster. Sasha Victorine, whose follow-up of a Yuri Movsisyan shot off the base of the post was saved by Troy Perkins, is questionable with an ankle sprain and fibular contusion. He played four seasons with the Galaxy before being traded to KC in 2005.

COLORADO (4-7-5) vs. RED BULL NEW YORK (6-5-3)
Sunday, 5 p.m. ET, Direct Kick, mlslive.tv
The Red Bull Road Show - three straight away from home -- concludes and this finale comes just in time. A 1-0 loss to Columbus last weekend led to a 4-0 hammering at Houston on national television Thursday night.

New York cranked just five shots at the Dynamo net yet appeared to have scored when Kevin Goldthwaite got the ball past former teammate Pat Onstad, but a foul disallowed the goal. Otherwise, Red Bull got overrun.

Colorado couldn't score either Wednesday and a second straight shutout at home, in front of a sellout crowd, displeased Coach Fernando Clavijo. The Rapids are winless in their last seven games and needed a late Bouna Coundoul save on a Jacob Thomas shot to get the point.

Facundo Erpen, traded to D.C. United in exchange for Greg Vanney, debuted for the Rapids in central defense alongside Ugo Ihemelu and was cautioned in the71st minute. Nothing new there.

HOUSTON (8-5-2) vs. D.C. UNITED (7-4-2)
Sunday, 5:30 p.m., Direct Kick, mlslive.tv
The season has yet to hit the halfway point and already the defending champion is within three wins of last year's total. Last year, the Dynamo tied 13 of 32 matches; this year it's the wins that are adding up.

Unbeaten in seven games, thanks in part to Joseph Ngwenya's five goals in 10 games since a trade with Columbus, Houston is priming itself for what could recur in November at RFK, the site of this year's championship game. It riddled the Red Bulls, 4-0, Thursday despite the absence midfielder Brad Davis because of an MCL injury. Ngwenya scored twice and Stuart Holden drilled a spectacular goal to go along with his two assists.

Defender Eddie Robinson sat out the Red Bull rout due to accumulated yellow cards and returns to tangle with Luciano Emilio for the first time.

Emilio netted the only goal with a lateral dribble and rising blast into the top corner to down Kansas City, but the D.C. defense - which should get back defender Bobby Boswell and midfielder Ben Olsen back from Copa America duty - surrendered 21 shots and kept a clean sheet only by the fine work of keeper Troy Perkins (eight saves) and the goalpost (two pingers that bounced back into play.)



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