MLS Week 10: 5 Things to Watch for This Weekend
Revenge. Redemption. Red hot. The three Rs will be on display in MLS Week 10. Just not the kind you grew up with.
A full slate of MLS matches are scheduled this weekend. Sixteen of the 19 teams will be in action.
DC United and the Chicago Fire will be forced to wait another week before attempting to turn their seasons around. FC Dallas will be able to sit back and watch of the rest of the league attempt to catch up.
But with so much action this weekend, where should your focus lie? What warrants your attention in Week 10?
Read on to find out.
The Story to Watch: 'Same Face, Different Place'
So maybe this story isn’t as captivating as a potential Robbie Rogers return. But “familiarity” will describe Saturday’s clash between the Columbus Crew and New York Red Bulls.
Dominic Oduro, Danny O’Rourke, Tony Tchani and Eddie Gaven occupy Columbus’ midfield.
All four once called New York home. All four will have the opportunity to make an impact against their former team in Week 10.
O’Rourke made 27 starts for the Red Bulls in 2007. He would be selected by Toronto FC in the 2006 Expansion Draft and subsequently traded to Columbus. The 29-year-old midfielder has made 126 starts for the Crew since.
Gaven also got his start in New York. At only 16, he was selected 12th overall in the 2003 MLS SuperDraft. A trade in 2006 sent Gaven to Columbus in exchange for Edson Buddle.
New York will once again be without an injured Dax McCarty (right quad), so a bolstered Columbus midfield will seek redemption. Saturday is an opportunity to show New York’s front office the talent they missed out on.
After last week’s fire, both teams will have the opportunity to light up the scoreboard as well. It is said to be "functioning normally." A line array speaker system was also rented to provide sound for Saturday’s match.
The Number to Watch: 7
The well-oiled machine that is the Portland Timbers are currently riding a franchise-best, six-game unbeaten streak. That number can be pushed to seven with a positive result over the New England Revolution in Week 10.
A statement was delivered in Sporting Park last Saturday. Confidence is brewing in Portland following an impressive 3-2 victory over Sporting Kansas City.
That “swagger”—I believe that’s the vernacular the kids use these days—emanated from head coach Caleb Porter following the match:
I think it tells us that we can go into any game against any team, home or away, and play our identity and not hope to win but expect to win...If we perform like we did tonight, we’re going to be a tough team to beat.
Now, some will argue that Portland's unbeaten streak is already over.
Atticus—an eight-year-old diagnosed with cancer last fall—lived out his dream of playing in the professional ranks thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
His youth team—the Green Machine—defeated the Timbers 10-9 before a crowd of 3,000 at JELD-WEN Field Wednesday afternoon. Jack Jewsbury, Darlington Nagbe, Will Johnson and other Timbers favorites took the field to square off against Atticus. But in the end, the Green Machine proved to be too much.
Atticus’ quadruple—including the game-winner—caught the eye of some of his hometown heroes. He swapped jerseys with Johnson following the match. It truly is a must-see image.
The Timbers will look to rebound against much tougher competition Thursday night and push their “MLS unbeaten streak” to seven.
The Player to Watch: Marco Di Vaio
There’s scorching form, and there’s Marco Di Vaio.
The Italian footballer has been on an absolute tear in recent weeks—scoring in four of his last five MLS games.
Wednesday night was no different. Di Vaio's brace in the semifinals of the Canadian Championship helped turn around a 2-0 deficit. Toronto FC’s bid for a fifth championship ended after a 6-0 defeat to the Montreal Impact.
Hopefully, Barcelona was taking notes.
Di Vaio’s scoring prowess has catapulted the Impact to first in the Eastern Conference with an impressive 2.29 points per game. That average would be enough to supplant FC Dallas for the Supporters' Shield. The Hoops currently sit atop the standings with 2.22 points per game.
As impressive as the 36-year-old has been this season, there is one thing missing: A road goal.
All four of Di Vaio's goals this season have come before the home crowd. That must change if Montreal hopes to stay atop the East. That opportunity will present itself in Week 10.
The San Jose Earthquakes haven’t exactly been “stingy” at home. Only the woeful Seattle Sounders were shut out at Buck Shaw Stadium in 2013.
Can the Italian striker capitalize?
The Team to Watch: The Seattle Sounders
Speaking of the Sounders, who exactly are they?
Thus far, a league-low six games have been played by Rave Green. The Red Bulls have already played in 10 just to keep things in perspective.
Last we saw Seattle, the team earned an uninspired 1-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids. After another bye week—Seattle’s third of the season—the time has come to add some MLS wear and tear.
The Sounders will play the first of three games Saturday in Philadelphia. A mid-week trip to Kansas City will follow before finally coming home to face the Quakes.
Three trips. Three different time zones. Three opportunities to increase their win total.
Injuries have forced Sigi Schmid to field an erratic starting XI throughout the season. But the team finally appears to be at full strength.
The return of Eddie Johnson (hamstring) will provide Seattle with its dream pairing up top. And neither David Estrada, Steve Zakuani, Djimi Traore nor Marc Burch have been ruled out of Saturday’s match.
The once-talented roster on paper will finally have the opportunity to shine on the field in Week 10.
The Match to Watch: Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo
MLS’ marquee matchup in Week 10 is a rematch of the last two MLS Cup finals. Unfortunately for the Dynamo, it’s going to feel more like the 2011 version.
Brad Davis was forced to miss the 2011 MLS Cup due to a torn right quadriceps muscle. He’ll be forced to miss Sunday’s showdown due to a red card suspension.
Davis is not the only thing missing from Sunday’s match.
The grandeur that is David Beckham is gone, and Bruce Arena’s obsession with victory has subsided for the moment. The head coach has spent most of the 2013 campaign defending his crown in an experimental fashion—tinkering with his extraordinary depth on a weekly basis.
This one doesn’t feel like an MLS Cup final. But it does feel like a must-watch.
Sunday’s match is a battle between two familiar foes that sit near the top of their respective conferences.
Both teams finished in the top five of B/R’s MLS Power Rankings in Week 9. One will have the opportunity to claim the No. 1 spot in Week 10.
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