For Week 1 of Season 13, here are the matchups, each boiled down to a pair of sentences (last year's records in parentheses):
COLUMBUS (9-11-10) VS. TORONTO FC (6-17-7)
Two miserable teams get an early chance to begin eradicating last season, when they combined to win just 15 of 60 games. U.S. under-23s Maurice Edu and Marvell Wynne are back with TFC, which will be backed by approximately 2,500 fans who are making the trek from eastern Canada to Ohio.
HOUSTON (15-8-7) VS. NEW ENGLAND (14-8-8)
Forget the Revenge Factor for last year's MLS Cup, only by getting back to final and winning it can the Revs exorcise those demons. Instead, watch for how well Honduran midfielder Mauricio Castro performs in his MLS debut, and how the Revs cope with the pressuring system played by the Dynamo no matter who's in the Houston lineup and what formation the Revs choose to play.
REAL SALT LAKE (6-15-9) VS. CHICAGO (10-10-10)
This is a perfect early test for the resurgent - supposedly -- RSL; the Fire snuck into the playoffs last year with a .500 record and upset D.C. in the playoffs. Any serious push for the playoffs is dependent on RSL beating mid-standings teams, especially at home, and watching its Argentine contingent deal with Cuauhtemoc Blanco will be an intriguing tableaux.
COLORADO (9-13-8) VS. LOS ANGELES (9-14-7)
Year Two of the Beckham Circus makes its first stop in Denver, where the Rapids have their own furor bubbling without the buzz surrounding Mr. 100 Caps. Coach Fernando Clavijo is staking a lot on ex-D.C. maestro Christian Gomez and the sooner Colorado can show improvement from last year's home performance of 6-4-5 and 16 goals, the better chance Clavijo has of keeping his job.
KANSAS CITY (11-12-7) VS. D.C. UNITED (16-7-7)
The Wizards opened the 2007 season by beating D.C., 4-2, at RFK, and this year, with both teams having stocked up on South Americans, Spanish will be the official language at CommunityAmerica Ballpark. Wizards forward Claudio Lopez received his P-1 visa Monday and though he's been held out of competitive action in the preseason, it's likely he'll get some minutes against another MLS DP debutant, Argentine compatriot Marcelo Gallardo.
FC DALLAS (13-12-5) VS. CHIVAS USA (15-7-8)
The status of former Mexican international Duilio Davino is unknown, but he went through a full FCD training session Thursday after taking it easy because of a deep bone bruise suffered during a preseason trip to Brazil. In three meetings last year, the teams split 1-1-1 and tied in goals scored, 2-2, so a mistake or moment of brilliance (maybe Juan Toja to the rescue?) is likely to decide the outcome.