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Can woeful Toronto exploit weary Seattle?
by Ridge Mahoney, April 23rd, 2010 2:27AM
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TAGS:  chicago fire, chivas usa, colorado rapids, columbus crew, d.c. united, los angeles galaxy, mls, seattle sounders


[MLS] The train wreck that is D.C. United takes the week off as Seattle fills out the eight games by playing at Toronto Sunday on just two days’ rest after surrendering a last-second penalty kick to end up tied in Dallas, 2-2.

HOMECOMING, SORT OF. Philadelphia Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz did a lot of the spadework, and took blistering criticism from fans frustrated by delays and blown deadlines, for the project that eventually became Red Bull Park. Until the Union opens its own stadium in late June, it will be traveling, and the points it can pick up prior to the unveiling may determine whether Philly gets into the playoff chase or just rolls along learning the ropes in its expansion season.

There’s another sort of homecoming at Gillette Stadium, where former Revs Jeff Larentowicz and Wells Thompson, who were traded to Colorado in exchange for Cory Gibbs and Preston Burpo, face their former mates. Payback aside, it’s a chance for the Rapids to maintain the momentum of a good (2-1-1) start.

And Real Salt Lake returns to the site where it launched an impressive and improbable run to last year’s title when it plays at Columbus. A 3-2 thrashing of the Crew, which had taken a 2-0 lead, in the second leg of the Eastern Conference finals carried RSL past the defending champion on a 4-2 aggregate. Having played only two league matches, will the Crew be rusty, or rested and eager to atone for last year’s collapse?

Houston has been a dominant force in the Western Conference ever since the team moved out of San Jose; since coming back into MLS, the New Quakes have fallen far short of the playoffs. Both incarnations of the franchise are in tricky yet potentially profitable away scenarios this weekend.

San Jose goes into Home Depot Center confident it can get something against Chivas USA, which has won only one of four games under new Coach Martin Vasquez. High-scoring defender Ike Opara (two goals in two games) may not get back from his academic duties at Wake Forest this time and a few forwards are still injured, but this version of the Quakes has a much deeper roster.

The Dynamo looked like its old self last week while pasting Chivas USA, 3-0. It heads to Chicago, one of the league’s worst home teams last year and a 2-1 loser to the Quakes at Toyota Park two weeks ago. With Lovel Palmer and Corey Ashe in the lineup, the Dynamo fields speed that can compensate for the injury absence of Brian Ching. With Patrick Nyarko motoring for the Fire, this could be a blurry encounter.

Kansas City is also off to an encouraging start (2-1-0) and hosts Los Angeles, lord and master of MLS at 4-0-0 and only one goal conceded. The mobility and cohesion of the Wizards attack could pose problems for the Galaxy, which despite its resilient defense has looked unsettled in midfield. And Edson Buddle can’t keep up this scoring pace, can he?

Sounders coach Sigi Schmid used Freddie Ljungberg off the bench in Dallas, so he should be sharp, but recovery after a draining game is a concern, as is the fitness of Kasey Keller. Last week, TFC did its own two-step by losing, 3-1, in Colorado after scraping past the Union at home, 2-1, for its first win, and not looking very impressive while doing it.

If Dwayne De Rosario and Co. don’t exploit a fatigued, travel-weary band of Sounders, and can't contain Steve Zakuani and Ljungberg, only the grass at BMO Field will be easy on the eyes.

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