Photo by Don Feria/ISIPhotos.com
By THOMAS FLOYD
A rematch of the 2010 Eastern Conference final — contested, of course, between two sides from the West — highlights this weekend's MLS slate.
The struggling San Jose Earthquakes will look to jump back into the playoff hunt Saturday night by picking up the full three points at home against a Colorado team that is 3-0-1 in its past four.
Elsewhere, Freddy Adu will hope to make his Philadelphia debut when the Union hosts FC Dallas in a clash of two of the league's top teams, while the Seattle Sounders and Chivas USA will meet in a crucial Western Conference matchup.
Here is a rundown of the full Week 22 schedule:
SEATTLE SOUNDERS vs. CHIVAS USA (Saturday, 4 p.m., Direct Kick)
Depending on how Dallas fares against Philadelphia, Seattle could launch itself into second in the Western Conference (and the Supporters' Shield race) with a win over Chivas.
The Goats, meanwhile, are currently in position to nab a wild card berth, but just barely. This match could serve as a barometer for where these two teams stand as the stretch run approaches.
TORONTO FC vs. REAL SALT LAKE (Saturday, 7 p.m., Direct Kick)
With a 3-0 win over New York last week, Real Salt Lake pushed itself to within five points of the final automatic Western Conference playoff spot, despite having played several fewer games than all four teams above it.
Salt Lake this weekend will draw a weak Toronto team that may already be looking ahead to its Champions League group stage opener Thursday. The only domino that hasn't fallen into place for Salt Lake is Jamison Olave's health — the centerback remains listed as doubtful with an MCL strain.
NEW YORK RED BULLS vs. CHICAGO FIRE (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Direct Kick)
What is wrong with the Red Bulls? That is the question surrounding the star-studded squad that has fallen from the top spot in the Eastern Conference via a 1-4-5 stretch in its past 10 league matches.
A home fixture against a last-place Chicago team that fell to expansion Vancouver 4-2 last week should be a good opportunity for the Red Bulls to pick up a win and build some momentum.
D.C. UNITED vs. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Direct Kick)
With five goals in his past two games, including a hat trick against Toronto last week, Dwayne De Rosario is the league's hottest player. De Rosario will have another opportunity to burn a team from his native Canada on Saturday when the Whitecaps visit RFK Stadium.
Between the posts, United will have a big decision to make, as Bill Hamid's red card against Toronto leaves Steve Cronin going up against rookie Joe Willis. Cronin would seem like the logical choice, but the veteran struggled after he replaced Hamid last week.
COLUMBUS CREW vs. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Direct Kick)
Columbus remains on top of the Eastern Conference, but the Union, bolstered by the addition of Freddy Adu, is hot on its heels.
Against New England, injuries could be a concern for the Crew — forwards Emilio Renteria, Aaron Horton and Jeff Cunningham are all questionable, while key midfielders Rich Balchan and Eddie Gaven are doubtful.
PHILADELPHIA UNION vs. FC DALLAS (Saturday, 8 p.m., Direct Kick)
After training with the Union on Friday, Adu seems poised to pull on the Philadelphia jersey for the first time Saturday and help his new club in a marquee matchup against FC Dallas.
Brek Shea, meanwhile, will hope to make his already memorable week in the City of Brotherly Love even more special by following up his stellar performance for the U.S. national team Wednesday with a strong outing at PPL Park.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES vs. COLORADO RAPIDS (Saturday, 11:30 p.m., Direct Kick)
With last week's 1-1 draw against Portland, San Jose saw its winless spell extended to 10 matches. The Rapids, on the other hand, have been on fire lately, compiling a 4-1-3 mark in their past eight.
The injury concerns of midfielder Simon Dawkins have been a major factor in San Jose's slump. The Englishman remains listed as questionable with a hamstring strain and may have to sit out another week or two before making his return.
HOUSTON DYNAMO vs. PORTLAND TIMBERS (Sunday, 9 p.m., Galavision)
Less than a month after Houston shipped left back Mika Chabala and defender-midfielder Lovel Palmer to Portland for midfielder Adam Moffat and allocation money, the two teams will face off at Robertson Stadium.
With both clubs barely on the outside looking in at a wild card slot, this contest could end up having major playoff implications when all is said and done, especially for a Portland team that has little chance at locking up one of the Western Conference's three automatic berths in the conference semifinals.