[MLS] On the first eight-game Saturday in league history, there’s another double-dip of Western Conference contenders; home openers for the Fire, Revs and defending champion Real Salt Lake; and Game 1 of an I-95 rivalry between D.C. United and expansion Philadelphia Union. Here are five things to look for during the Saturday action ...
Saturday, April 10 (all times ET)
Chivas USA (0-2-0) vs. New York (2-0-0), 4 p.m., TeleFutura.
Philadelphia (0-1-0) vs. D.C. United (0-2-0), 6 p.m., FSC/FSE.
New England (1-1-0) vs. Toronto FC (0-1-0) 7:30 p.m., Direct Kick.
Kansas City (1-0-0) vs. Colorado (1-0-1), 8:30 p.m., DK.
Houston (1-0-1) vs. Los Angeles (2-0-0), 8:30 p.m., DK.
FC Dallas (0-0-1) vs. Columbus (1-0-0), 8:30 p.m., DK.
Chicago (0-1-1) vs. San Jose (0-1-0), 8:30 p.m., DK.
Real Salt Lake (1-1-0) vs. Seattle (1-1-0), 9 p.m., DK.
WIN-WIN TRADE? So far, the swap of ex-Revs Jeff Larentowicz and Wells Thompson to Colorado in exchange for Cory Gibbs and Preston Burpo looks good for both teams. Pat Phelan has stepped into Larentowicz’s central midfield spot, and if Shalrie Joseph is again unable to play because of injury he, Gibbs and Burpo will be key figures as the Revs try to shut down newly appointed TFC captain Dwayne DeRosario. For Colorado, Larentowicz has paired up nicely with veteran Pablo Mastroeni, but the Rapids midfield may be stretched by a Wizards’ attack that rang up four goals against D.C. in their opener.
ROUGH STUFF. D.C. United rebounded from that shellacking to knit together some nice attacking sequences last weekend against the Revs, but squandered a few good opportunities in a 2-0 loss. Former United head coach Peter Nowak has defended Philly’s fierce, uh, defending (and tackling and marking and protesting, etc.). Don’t expect the Union to be any less pummel-prone when Nowak sends out his players against the team he led to the 2004 league title, with a pumped-up crowd of about 35,000 expected at Lincoln Financial Field.
WESTERN SHOWDOWNS. Houston Dynamo players bitterly remember a disallowed goal in the final minutes of last year’s Western Conference final at Home Depot Center with the game tied, 0-0. Given a reprieve, the Galaxy scored twice in overtime to advance to MLS Cup. On Saturday, the setting and the intensity, if not the stakes, will be the same. RSL lost at Houston last week on a pair of penalty kicks, and can resume its home dominance (9-1-5 at Rio Tinto Stadium last year) against Seattle if it can blunt the Freddie (Ljungberg) and Fredy (Montero) Show as New York did.
HOME COOKING. The Red Bulls play their first afternoon match at their marvelous new stadium and a third one-goal game might be enough. Chivas USA has yet to score this season and head coach Martin Vasquez looked mighty mystified as his team went down to the Galaxy, 2-0, eight days ago. Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos, who coached El Salvador during the Concacaf Hexagonal, makes his home debut against San Jose, for which midfielder Ramon Sanchez could play against fellow Salvadorans Deris Umanzor and Julio Martinez.
FLANKS IN FLUX. Honduran midfielder Marvin Chavez missed FCD’s opener, a 1-1 tie with Houston, because of a knee injury, and Atiba Harris took his spot at right mid to set up the Dallas goal. Coach Schellas Hyndman needs strong stuff on the flanks against Columbus, whose own wide men – including Robbie Rogers and Eddie Gaven – are among the league’s elite.