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Beckham aims for Red Bulls
by Ridge Mahoney, August 17th, 2007 7AM

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[MLS WEEKEND PREVIEW] The top two teams in the Western Conference square off; two matches pair up tightly bunched Eastern Conference foes; Beckham does Jersey, RSL may unveil a more South American look for a visit by the Fire and Cuauhtemoc Blanco, and Toronto hosts the second meeting of the USA's border neighbors.


TORONTO (5-10-5) vs. CHIVAS USA (8-6-3)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, Direct Kick

TFC isn't healthy, but it's healthier, and with some extra motivation - a 2-0 loss to Chivas USA way back in April began the TFC era -- it can end a long scoring drought and pick up a point or three.

Danny Dichio (hip flexor); Marvell Wynne (hamstring); and Jeff Cunningham (adductor) have been upgraded to questionable, as is Collin Samuel, who suffered a bone bruise in his knee in a 3-0 loss to New York last weekend that ran Toronto's scoreless streak to 462 minutes.

Chivas USA hasn't played in three weeks, since losing in the final minutes to Kansas City, 3-2. It acquired midfielder Ramon Nunez from Dallas Wednesday in exchange for a 2009 conditional third-round draft pick in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft. In four seasons, the SMU product scored 14 goals and recorded nine assists in 67 games. In 13 games this year he scored three goals and two assists but the sharp form of Arturo Alvarez the past two months often kept him out of the starting lineup.

COLUMBUS (6-8-8) vs. D.C. UNITED (9-6-3)
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, HDNet, Direct Kick

The Crew beat D.C. 1-0 April 28 with an Ezra Hendrickson goal. Since then, Guillermo Barros Schelotto has taken a place among the top MLS playmakers and defender Chad Marshall has returned to the fine form of his first two seasons.

In United's last two games, it has split with the Galaxy, winning 1-0 at RFK last week on Luciano Emilio's 13th goal of the season, and losing in the SuperLiga semifinal, 2-0, at HDC on Wednesday.

RED BULL NEW YORK (9-7-3) vs. LOS ANGELES (3-7-5)
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Sports en Espanol

The David Beckham Road Show stops in the Big Toxic Landfill, otherwise known as New Jersey. The up-and-down Red Bulls are playing their fourth straight home game: so far, they've beaten D.C. (1-0), lost to Chivas USA (2-0), and blasted Toronto (3-0).

Midfielder Dema Kovalenko will miss the game recovering from facial injuries he suffered in a car crash last weekend. For the Galaxy, Beckham and Edson Buddle are questionable, Troy Roberts, Chris Albright; and Cobi Jones did not travel with the team due to injuries.

REAL SALT LAKE (2-9-6) vs. CHICAGO (5-8-5)
Saturday, 9 p.m. ET, Direct Kick

RSL coach Jason Kreis has followed the trend of MLS this season and signed three Argentines, all of whom could be eligible to play this match if their visa paperwork is completed in time.

Striker Edgar Espindola and defender Matias Mantilla have received their work visas and countryman Javier Morales, a midfielder, could get his in time to play this match. RSL upset Houston, 1-0, in its last match two weeks ago on a sharp finish by rookie Robbie Findley. It tied the Fire, 0-0, May 27 at Pizza Hut Park.

Fiery Fire midfielder/defender Diego Gutierrez is suspended (five cautions) and defender Jim Curtin is still out with a torn shoulder muscle. Chicago has also been off for two weeks after tying Columbus, 0-0. It trails the Crew by six points for the last playoff spot, but does have two games in hand.

HOUSTON (10-7-4) vs. DALLAS (11-6-3)
Sunday, 7 p.m. ET, Galavision

Houston has yet to lose in two meetings with its Texas rival this season, winning 2-1 at home and tying 0-0 in Big D. It trails first-place FCD by two points but can leapfrog it by winning. But Houston has lost its last two league matches by 1-0 scores and fell to Pachuca in a heartbreaking SuperLiga semifinal Tuesday on penalties after scraping out a 2-2 tie despite playing most of the match a man down.

FC Dallas was a man down in its last match against the Crew yet still pulled out a spectacular 3-2 win with a Clarence Goodson header two minutes into stoppage time. Defender Adrian Serioux suffered a hamstring pull in that match and will miss this one. So will midfielder Marcelo Saragosa, as he is suspended. This might give Houston an edge in midfield, especially if Juan Toja hasn't recovered from his sprained ankle.

KANSAS CITY (8-6-5) vs. NEW ENGLAND (10-5-6)
Sunday, 8 p.m. ET, Direct Kick

This rematch of a spectacular 2-0 Revs win at Gillette Stadium 17 days ago has critical conference and overall-seeding implications. New England is tied with FCD for the best overall record and has a six-point lead in the East; the Wizards are fourth in the conference but just a point behind second-place D.C. and New York.

The Revs looked awful losing, 3-0, in Colorado Thursday night. They fell behind early and seldom threatened while taking just five shots. Pat Noonan came off injured in the 26th minute and his status for this game is unknown.

Kansas City hasn't played since that loss to the Revs and may have Scott Sealy recovered from a strained adductor. In the team's first meeting this season, Eddie Johnson's hat trick powered K.C. to a 4-3 win at The Razor.



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