MLS: Complete Weekend Guide, Team News, Game-by-Game Predictions
Steve Dykes/Getty Images
Week two of MLS starts this Saturday with a 1:30 p.m. EST first whistle in Canada, with Toronto FC hosting Sporting Kansas City. The weekend finishes with a 10:00 p.m. EST kickoff in California, as the San Jose Earthquakes face the New York Red Bulls.
There are eight matches in total.
Three teams are off from MLS play with this week because of their participation in the CONCACAF Champions League: Houston Dynamo, the Seattle Sounders and the Los Angeles Galaxy.
The games this week should provide some excellent insight into the forever debated conversation about which MLS conference is superior—the Eastern conference, or the Western conference. Six of the matches provide opposing conference matchups.
Toronto FC vs. Sporting Kansas City
Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images
The home opener for Toronto brings along with it an Eastern conference favorite in the Peter Vermes-led side, Sporting Kansas City.
TFC are coming off a 1-0 loss at Vancouver to the Whitecaps. SKC beat the Philadelphia Union, 3-1, in their first match of the season.
The good news in Kansas is that its first-round MLS Superdraft pick, Mikey Lopez, is back from international duty with the U.S. under-20 squad. Vermes will look to bring him into the side after a bit of nurturing.
Out of the TFC camp, new head coach Ryan Nelsen is pleased with his team's effort in their first MLS match and is convinced his side put in a solid shift, particularly in the first half.
Prediction: Toronto FC rookie Kyle Bekker put together a nice effort in his MLS debut. He was calm in possession and crafty in tight spaces when needed. That said, the Reds did not generate too much danger going forward. Look for SKC's high pressure to befuddle the, at times, sloppy Toronto back line.
Toronto FC 0-2 Sporting Kansas City.
Colorado Rapids vs. Philadelphia Union
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Both the Colorado Rapids and the Philadelphia Union are searching for their first point of this young MLS campaign.
The Rapids come off a disappointing loss, in which a goalkeeping error from backup Steward Ceus sealed their fate. The Union looked the better side in their opener until conceding a goal, at which point they seemed to lose focus.
Both sides should feel a relative sense of satisfaction as each had quality chances and solid possession in their openers.
Still no official word from Colorado if its regular starting goalkeeper, Matt Pickens, will return to the lineup.
For Sebastien Le Toux, his side's opening loss is something he plans on using as motivational fuel for the rest of the season.
This game could be an emotional affair, as it marks the return of a decorated striker, Conor Casey, to Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Casey was a critical factor in Colorado's 2010 MLS Cup victory.
Prediction: Colorado legend, Pablo Mastroeni, has returned after a year on the shelf with terrible concussion symptoms. His first match back was tidy. Alongside Hendry Thomas, the Rapids controlled the midfield and created quality chances on the Dallas target. They will look to do the same on Saturday.
Assuming they can corral the dangerous Le Toux, the Rapids will win, 2-1.
D.C. United vs. Real Salt Lake
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
After getting blanked in Houston, D.C. United look for their first point of the season while Real Salt Lake will hope to build on a solid opening match performance in San Jose.
Still no Dwayne De Rosario for United. The Canadian international will serve the second of his two-game suspension for a preseason head-butt. On the positive side, Tuesday's training session marked the return of backup goalkeeper Joe Willis to the training pitch.
Sunday's victory was a milestone match for two Salt Lake mainstays, midfielder Kyle Beckerman and goalkeeper Nick Rimando. The shutout was Rimando's 100th for the club, and the start was Beckerman's 300th in an RSL shirt.
Prediction: Real Salt Lake might be flying a bit under the radar this year with the loss of Fabian Espindola and Jamison Olave to New York. RSL reloaded with one of the more dynamic players in MLS, Joao Plata. Beckerman should be able to win the central midfield battle against Perry Kitchen and continue to feed the prolific Alvaro Saborio.
D.C. United 0-1 Real Salt Lake.
Chicago Fire vs. New England Revolution
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
The Chicago Fire will certainly be motivated after getting thumped in their opener, 4-0, by the Los Angeles Galaxy. The New England Revolution open their 2013 campaign and will likely debut their shiny new first-round draft choice, rookie back Andrew Farrell.
In the Windy City, center back Steven Kinney is happy to be back after a being sidelined for two years with an Achilles injury. However, he hopes that Sunday's performance, in which Robbie Keane ran circles around him and Austin Berry, is not indicative of the entire season for Chicago.
News from the Revolution camp suggests that their French target striker, Saer Sene, will likely miss action until April as he recovers from an ACL injury. New England will look for Honduran international, Jerry Bengston, to carry the scoring load until he returns.
Prediction: The New England Revolution should have a much improved defense this year, assuming Farrell can live up the the massive expectations the club has heaped on him. Chicago looked out of sorts, adjusting to new central midfield pieces Joel Lindpere and Jeff Larentowicz in their opener. Look for Jerry Bengtson to notch at least one goal. Chicago will not go down as easily as they did last Sunday, though.
Chicago Fire 1-1 New England Revolution.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Columbus Crew
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
The Columbus Crew smacked Chivas USA 3-0 last week. The Whitecaps got a professional 1-0 victory over Canadian rivals, Toronto FC.
With Jay DeMerit expected to miss an extended period of time due to an Achilles injury, The 'Caps will look for Brad Rusin to fill in for their usually reliable center back. Vancouver will certainly be encouraged with Rusin's first showing on Saturday, as his performance helped seal the team's first clean sheet of the season.
For the Columbus Crew, Saturday's win marked the 200th appearance for veteran midfielder Eddie Gavin, who joined an elite list of Crew players to reach that mark: Chad Marshall, Mike Clark and Jeff Cunningham—not bad for a 26-year-old.
Prediction: Vancouver has some nice pieces offensively, but Columbus can match their offensive artillery, no doubt. Both teams should get chances, with the Whitecaps adjusting to life without DeMerit,and the Crew having to deal with the electric Darren Mattocks.
Vancouver Whitecaps 2-2 Columbus Crew.
Portland Timbers vs. Montreal Impact
Steve Dykes/Getty Images
The Portland Timbers come off the most wild and entertaining match of the first MLS weekend, with a 3-3 draw against the New York Red Bulls. Meanwhile, the Montreal Impact shocked the league with their 1-0 road victory in Seattle against the Sounders.
Portland is all abuzz with the performance of their new designated player, Argentinian stud Diego Valeri. His highly dextrous, first-ever MLS goal, displayed a touch that is, simply stated, pure. His efforts earned him MLS Team of the Week honors. His teammate, Darlington Nagbe, was also selected.
Montreal signed the youngest player in their team's history, 18-year-old goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau. He becomes the fourth homegrown talent to get a contract with the Impact.
Prediction: Portland looked a side primed to make a playoff run this season. Head coach Caleb Porter has the group believing in a fluid, quick-passing style. They should once again feed off an aggressive crowd and likely will not make the same defensive mistakes that plagued them against New York. Montreal will not be able to contain the new-look Timbers.
Portland Timbers win 3-1.
Chivas USA vs. FC Dallas
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Chivas USA were smacked at the hands of the Columbus Crew 3-0, while FC Dallas won at home against their Western conference foes, the Colorado Rapids.
Debutant MLS head coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola took full responsibility for his team's futility, but Julio Morales cited nerves as the reason for their flat performance. And flat it was—the league's editorial staff ranked Chivas as the bottom team in terms of Power Rankings.
FC Dallas goalkeeper Richard Sanchez was welcomed back to training after winning the U-20 CONCACAF Championship for Mexico. Sanchez was thrilled with his experience.
Prediction: The situation for Chivas USA is a dire one. Certainly not anything they can fix in a scant week. Dallas midfielder, David Ferreira, should have his way in the final third and thread passes just about anywhere he pleases. Not much offense to speak of from Chivas.
FC Dallas win 3-1.
San Jose Earthquakes vs. New York Red Bulls
Steve Dykes/Getty Images
The San Jose Earthquakes come off their home opening game with a 2-0 loss at the hands of Real Salt Lake. Mike Petke's debut as head coach for the Red Bulls saw his side let a two-goal lead collapse to a fresh Portland Timbers team. They finished with a 3-3 draw.
Rafhael Domingues, a 21-year-old trialist, is set to ink in the coming days for New York. They are also looking to sign another player, Peguy Luyindula from France. The pair should provide some needed depth for New York.
San Jose Earthquakes will lose the services of one of the best defenders in CONCACAF, Viktor Bernardez, in a few weeks time when he heads for international duty with Honduras ahead of their next World Cup qualifiers.
They will surely miss his physicality and excellent defensive positioning.
Prediction: New York is still working out the kinks in what is essentially an entirely new team with and new tactics. San Jose looked out of sorts, with the absence of target strikers Steven Lenhart and Alan Gordon quite conspicuous. This should be offensive affair, and chances will be prevalent.
San Jose Earthquakes 2-2 New York Red Bulls.