MLS Countdown: Kaka is ready for defending champs

Orlando City, one of three unbeaten teams at 1-0-2, plays its next two games on exclusive national telecasts: at home against Portland Sunday on Fox Sports 1, and next Friday in Philadelphia on UniMas.

OCSC should be at full strength against the defending champion. Kaka has recovered from a thigh injury that has ruled him out of all three games, and could get on the field with former AC Milan teammate Antonio Nocerino for the first time in MLS.

“It’s gonna be awesome to play with him again,” Kaka said. “I’m ready to go now. It was a tough period, but I’m ready.” They were teammates at Milan during the 2013-14 season during which Nocerino was loaned to West Ham, so they rarely played together."

Friday, April 1
7:00 pm ET:
New England vs. NY Red Bulls, UniMas
Saturday, April 2
5:00 pm ET:
Chicago vs. Philadelphia
8:00 pm ET:
Colorado vs. Toronto FC
8:30 pm ET:

Sporting KC vs. Real Salt Lake
9:00 pm ET:
FC Dallas vs. Columbus
10:00 pm ET:
Seattle vs. Montreal
Vancouver vs. LA Galaxy
10:30 pm ET:
San Jose vs. D.C. United
Sunday, April 3
8:00 pm ET:
Orlando City vs. Portland, FS1, Fox Deportes

Striker Cyle Larin started both games for Canada as it twice fell to Mexico: 3-0 in Vancouver and 2-0 in Mexico City. Kevin Molino celebrated his return to the Trinidad & Tobago national team following a long injury absence with a pair of appearances against St. Vincent & The Grenadines that included a goal in the second game, a 6-0 rout. Defender Darwin Ceren played every minute for El Salvador in a tie (1-1) and loss (2-0) versus Honduras.

A hamstring injury had sidelined David Mateos, who started all six of his appearances last year, so far this season but he is cleared to play.

Portland striker Fanendo Adi  will meet the team in Florida on Friday after playing for Nigeria in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Egypt. Six Timbers, including three Jamaicans, were summoned by their national teams. OCSC was one of only three teams to beat the Timbers at Providence Park last year.

BATTLE OF UNBEATENS. Sporting Kansas City, the league’s only 3-0-0 team, hosts Real Salt Lake -- also unbeaten (1-0-2) -- at Children’s Mercy Field on Saturday.

Three SKC players – Roger Espinoza, Soni Mustivar, and Graham Zusi – have returned from international duty, but Espinoza -- who went the full 90 minutes as Honduras beat El Salvador, 2-0, on Tuesday -- is suspended for the RSL game. Mustivar played 45 minutes of Haiti’s 1-0 loss to Panama and Zusi scored the third U.S. goal in a 4-0 rout of Guatemala.

The concussion during a training session suffered by Matt Besler that prevented him from playing in either game against Guatemala will also sideline him this weekend. Paulo Nagamura (calf) and Justin Mapp (toe) are also out. According to the Kansas City Star, Benny Feilhaber said Thursday that the abdominal strain that sidelined him for SKC’s 1-0 defeat of Toronto FC on March 20 won’t keep him out of this game.

On the RSL side, Kyle Beckerman went the full 90 against Guatemala. Demar Phillips played for Jamaica in a loss and tie with Costa Rica. Javier Morales is bothered by an injured rib and may not play and Boyd Okwuonu cannot be cleared to play until he completes the MLS concussion protocol. 

MLS Standings:
6 Montreal 2-1-0 6/4
6 Philadelphia 2-1-0 5/3
5 Orlando City 1-0-2 4/3
4 Toronto FC 1-1-1 4/3
5 New York City 1-1-2 7/7
3 New England 0-1-3 4/7
3 NY Red Bulls 1-2-0 4/8
2 Chicago 0-1-2 4/5
2 D.C. United 0-1-2 2/5
1 Columbus 0-2-1 2/4

9 Sporting KC 3-0-0 4/1
9 FC Dallas 3-1-0 7/5
6 LA Galaxy 2-1-0 7/3
6 Vancouver 2-2-0 6/6
6 San Jose 2-1-0 4/4
5 Real Salt Lake 1-0-2 7/6
4 Houston 1-2-1 11/8
4 Portland 1-1-1 5/5
4 Colorado 1-1-1 2/2
0 Seattle 0-3-0 2/5

Leading Scorers:
3 Will Bruin (Houston)
3 Joao Plata (Real Salt Lake)
3 Ignacio Piatti (Montreal)
3 Pedro Morales (Vancouver)
3 Cyle Larin (Orlando City)
3 Chris Wondolowski (San Jose)
3 Fanendo Adi (Portland)
3 Maximiliano Urruti (FC Dallas)

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