3. MLS WEEKEND: Week 2 Previews

By Ridge Mahoney
Senior Editor

D.C. UNITED-KANSAS CITY
(Fox Soccer Channel, Saturday, 4 pm ET, kickoff: 4:30 pm)

D.C. swept all four games in the season series last year. Of the two teams, D.C. seems to have upgraded by adding striker Luciano Emilio while K.C. has kept mainly the same cast, although midfielder Jack Jewsbury is now at right back and rookie Michael Harrington has won a spot in midfield. Tom Soehn lost his debut as a head coach last week when United lost, 2-1, to Colorado in winter-wonderland weather, and back at home has the edge over another coaching debutant, Curt Onalfo.

REAL SALT LAKE-COLUMBUS
(Direct Kick, Saturday, 4 pm MT/6 pm ET)

A flat 0-0 tie with Red Bull New York on opening weekend has Crew fans hoping desperately that the transfer rumors about Boca Juniors attacker Guillermo Barros Schellotto are true. (He is playing this weekend against River Plate and has refused to address the rumors until after this derby.) Real lost a victory in the final seconds last weekend when Nick Rimando missed punching a high ball and Carlos Ruiz tapped it into the net to give FC Dallas a 2-2 tie. The teams split their two games last year, 1-1, with the road teams winning.

NEW ENGLAND-TORONTO FC
(Direct Kick, Saturday, 7:30 pm ET)

Mo Johnson's expansion team will be tested by the Revs, which gave up an early goal to Chicago in its opener and created enough good chances to get at least a point but ended up losing, 1-0. Carl Robinson showed against Chivas USA he can do the business in MLS, but a few of his TFC teammates left that question unanswered, and a New England team that is solid at every position despite the absences of Clint Dempsey, Joey Franchino and Michael Parkhurst can be counted on to expose weaknesses if they are detected.

HOUSTON-CHIVAS USA
(HDNet, Saturday, 7:30 pm CT/8:30 pm ET)

The Dynamo needed a late goal to subdue Chivas USA, 2-1, in its home game and win the 2006 conference semifinal series, 3-2, on aggregate. Chivas USA was the only Western Conference team to win last weekend, beating Toronto, 2-0, on goals by Ante Razov and Sacha Kljestan, but relied heavily on the goalkeeping of Brad Guzan to do so. Houston, fatigued last weekend against Galaxy in a 0-0 tie after battling valiantly in a 5-2 loss to Pachuca at high altitude three days before, should be too sharp for even the Great Guzan to contain.

NEW YORK-FC DALLAS
(TeleFutura, Sunday, 3 pm ET)

After two matches, the FC Dallas formula is clear; keep the ball moving through Juan Carlos Toja and Ramon Nunez, and get goals from Carlos Ruiz and Kenny Cooper. Both scored against the Galaxy Thursday after netting the previous weekend against Real Salt Lake. Shaka Hislop played a strong game in goal Thursday to frustrate a Galaxy team that had been shut out on the road in its opener and struggled to score at Home Depot Center. Dallas comes into the game, its third straight on the road to open the season, with a tie in Salt Lake City and a win in Los Angeles.

COLORADO-CHICAGO
(Direct Kick, Sunday, 6 pm MT/7 pm CT/8 pm ET)

The conference leaders collide at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, which the Rapids unveiled last weekend by beating D.C. United, 2-1 after taking a 2-0 lead with two goals by Herculez Gomes and Roberto Brown in the first 35 minutes. Chicago stubbornly held off New England to win, 1-0, after scoring in the fourth minute through Logan Pause. The Fire was bailed out a few times by keeper Matt Pickens. Justin Mapp - who assisted on Pause's goal - is relishing the playmaker's role. How Colorado copes with him may dictate the result.
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