MLS Week 3: A Look Ahead

MLSSB032520111372

 Photo by Stephen Brashear/ISIphotos.com

By THOMAS FLOYD

It's a battle of the unbeatens for NBC Sports Network's first Friday night broadcast.

The Houston Dynamo will look for their third consecutive road win to kick off the 2012 campaign at CenturyLink Field against the Seattle Sounders, who downed Toronto last week in their MLS opener. The only other matchup this weekend featuring two teams without a loss — Sunday's clash between Sporting Kansas City and FC Dallas at Livestrong Sporting Park — will also be nationally televised, on Galavision.

Elsewhere, the Philadelphia Union will try to get back on track in a match at the Chicago Fire, while the Vancouver Whitecaps will hope to stay atop the Western Conference standings when they host D.C. United. And in Harrison, N.J., the New York Red Bulls will look to secure their first win of the season in their home opener against an in-form Colorado Rapids side.

Here is a rundown of the full Week 3 slate:

SEATTLE SOUNDERS vs. HOUSTON DYNAMO (Friday, 10 p.m., NBC Sports Network)

Considering Houston only won two road games all of last season — a campaign, mind you, that still ended in an MLS Cup final appearance — it's rather remarkable that the Dynamo have already won that many contests away from home this year.

They'll go for No. 3 on Friday against the Sounders, who will be missing playmaker Mauro Rosales because of a knee injury. While forward Eddie Johnson is doubtful (hip), that blow has been softened by the emergence of third-year player David Estrada, who is coming off a hat trick in a 3-1 win over Toronto last weekend.

TORONTO FC vs. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (Saturday, 1 p.m., TSN)

Toronto may have bigger fish to fry, with the first leg of a CONCACAF Champions League semifinal clash with Santos Laguna looming Wednesday, but after dropping to 0-1 on the MLS campaign with a loss to Seattle last week, the Reds will want this result all the same.

One storyline to watch will be how Toronto adjusts against San Jose without the presence of veteran midfielder Torsten Frings (hamstring), who was so stellar during his side's Champions League aggregate triumph over Los Angeles.

NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION vs. PORTLAND TIMBERS (Saturday, 4 p.m., Direct Kick)

New England has sure struggled to start 2012, but the Revolution will hope a little bit of home cooking will be all they need to remedy some of their problems.

The absence of suspended centerback Stephen McCarthy and injured defenders Darrius Barnes and John Lozano, though, will be a tough blow. If the early returns are any indication, central defense pairings across the league will need to be in top form when going up against new Portland striker Kris Boyd.

COLUMBUS CREW vs. MONTREAL IMPACT (Saturday, 4 p.m., Direct Kick)

Two weeks after struggling to find much cohesion in a season-opening loss to Colorado, the Crew are back on the field, having had a bye week to mull things over. It appears new striker Olman Vargas, who was slowed in preseason by injury, is poised to step into the starting lineup as one tactical change.

The Impact, meanwhile, are looking to build off last weekend's draw with Chicago. After making a late cameo against the Fire, recently signed striker Bernardo Corradi could see increased minutes Saturday.

CHICAGO FIRE vs. PHILADELPHIA UNION (Saturday, 8:30 p.m., Direct Kick)

The Union are already underachieving early in this MLS season, having dropped back-to-back contests, and losing midfielders Freddy Adu and Amobi Okugo and right back Sheanon Williams to U.S. Under-23 national team duty isn't helping matters.

It's not as if the Fire are unaffected by Olympic qualifying, though. Goalkeeper Sean Johnson is also with the U.S. squad and will miss this Eastern Conference clash. Former Inter Milan youth player Paolo Tornaghi held his own in his first appearance with Johnson gone, turning in a strong performance against Montreal last weekend.

REAL SALT LAKE vs. CHIVAS USA (Saturday, 9 p.m., Direct Kick)

This is about as large a perceived mismatch as one will see this early in a season. In just two games, Salt Lake has clearly established itself as a team to beat thanks to convincing wins over the big-budget Los Angeles Galaxy and New York Red Bulls, despite not having centerback Nat Borchers, winger Will Johnson, playmaker Javier Morales or striker Alvaro Saborio at 100 percent.

Chivas, on the other hand, has dropped two home games while failing to score a single goal. The odds of the club getting a result at Rio Tinto Stadium, therefore, would seem unlikely.

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS vs. D.C. UNITED (Saturday, 10 p.m., Direct Kick)

Coming off the first road win in franchise history, the Whitecaps return home Saturday to take on a D.C. United side that has looked lethargic to start the season in tough matchups against Sporting Kansas City and the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Having already lost goalkeeper Bill Hamid and midfielder Perry Kitchen to the U.S. Under-23 national team, United will now lose winger Andy Najar to the Honduran U-23s. Look for Danny Cruz or rookie Nick DeLeon, who scored in his debut last weekend, to fill that void.

NEW YORK RED BULLS vs. COLORADO RAPIDS (Sunday, 4 p.m., ESPN)

Will a return to Red Bull Arena get Thierry Henry and Co. back on track? The Red Bulls haven't looked sharp so far in 2012, but they were, in all fairness, dealt unenviable road matchups against FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake.

In addition to playing in front of their home fans, New York this weekend will also get midfielder Rafa Marquez back from suspension and centerback Wilman Conde back from injury. And Colorado will be short-handed in midfield, with Jeff Larentowicz sitting out this contest after receiving a red card last weekend against Philadelphia.

SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs. FC DALLAS (Sunday, 7 p.m., Galavision)

After notching a win and a draw in a two-game homestand to start the year, Dallas will face its toughest test yet when it goes to Livestrong Sporting Park to face 2-0 Kansas City. Although the home side's speedy attack gets the headlines, a defense led by goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen and centerbacks Aurelien Collin and Matt Besler hasn't allowed a goal yet this season.

Both teams will be without U.S. Under-23 national team call-ups in this one, as Dallas is missing winger Brek Shea and Kansas City is missing striker Teal Bunbury. Dallas is also without versatile Panamanian U-23 call-up Carlos Rodriguez.

This entry was posted in Major League Soccer, MLS- Chicago Fire, MLS- Chivas USA, MLS- Colorado Rapids, MLS- Columbus Crew, MLS- D.C. United, MLS- FC Dallas, MLS- Houston Dynamo, MLS- Montreal Impact, MLS- New England Revolution, MLS- New York Red Bulls, MLS- Philadelphia Union, MLS- Portland Timbers, MLS- Real Salt Lake, MLS- San Jose Earthquakes, MLS- Seattle Sounders, MLS- Sporting Kansas City, MLS- Toronto FC, MLS- Vancouver Whitecaps. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to MLS Week 3: A Look Ahead

  1. Withdrawn Striker says:

    This Timbers fan considers this early game a “must-win.” Mathematically, it is ludicrous to talk about must-wins this early. But consider that the timbers won only two road games last year. to be competitive in the West, teams must be able to win on the road, especially against weaker eastern teams. If the timbers can’t beat teams like the Revs and Montreal away, they probably won’t make the playoffs. I think they are confident they can win this one. Prediction Timbers 1-0 Boyd 68′ (assist from Nagbe).

  2. Tyler says:

    Hoping for much better out of the Crew this week, but I fear the loss of Duka is going to sting for a while. I don’t see much in terms of attack. I wish we had a better set piece operator to aim for Marshall. Methinks we are in for a long season for Columbus and my preseason optimism is almost home already.

    Sucks being a Crew fan in Denver.

  3. beachbum says:

    Hope the Friday Night game delivers

    here’s to the Dynamo and Sounders putting on a great game tonight

    Represent!

  4. Charles says:

    I love how many games get on Nat TV. If/When MLS gets even bigger you could see a scenerio where each network puts on 2 games for a total of 6, plus your local game means 7 games.

  5. Eric K says:

    I’m looking forward to when the Revs’ defense gets healthy. It looked like they were doing well in preseason (as much as that counts for anything other than some optimism for the regular season). I’m just surprised that 2 weeks into the season they already have injury problems.

  6. CA says:

    The sun is out today here in Seattle, should be a beautiful night. Sounders 3-1 Dynamo. Get it on!!

  7. JesseMT says:

    What happened to Collin SKC’s last game? Is he coming back this week against Dallas?

  8. JJ says:

    That is a bold prediction … 2-0 Seattle!!!

  9. Luis F says:

    Without Rosales and possibly without Johansen, I don’t know if the Sounders will be able to score 3. My guess, and I hate saying this, is that Seattle ties tonight 1-1.

  10. SR says:

    I understand what you’re saying. I also think your not giving your team enough credit–they’ll win this one 3-1. The ghost of Steve Nicol hangs over NE.

  11. L Dog says:

    Friday Night MLS….finally! They should “own” this spot

  12. Will says:

    Sounders have plenty of offense, even w/o Rosales. It is their defense that might struggle with the Houston giants up top. Alonso has not looked good so far.

  13. Luis F says:

    Not sure I agree that we have “plenty” of offense when the entire right side is going to drop off considerably. Hopefully I’m wrong.

  14. RB says:

    If NYRB can’t get back on track in a nationally televised home-opener after 2 losses against a Rapids midfield without either of its core players…

  15. Big Chil says:

    …and we’re hoping they cannot…

  16. jonfsoccer says:

    Im revs fan and already gave up on this season. Timbers are only in their second season and have spent more on dps than the revs. Out pure disgust with the Krapps ownership, I hope we lose by 7. Krapps sell the team. You obviously dont give krapp about mls.

  17. Kishan Jeter says:

    Even with all the “fire power” that Seattle has, Houston has the “defensive power” to squash it which will make this game a draw. I think Seattle will enjoy much of the possession for they are playing at home on turf which Houston plays terrible on. Hopefully Houston keeps a clean sheet and continues their unbeaten streak and gain a 3rd shutout. Go Dynamo!

  18. chad says:

    Unfortunately, they won’t this week a it’s head to head with March Madness

  19. chad says:

    Read on SKC’s site it was tightness in his hamstring and pulling was just precautionary a the game was in hand.

  20. kajagoogoo says:

    Houston = Ugly ball

    SSFC 2-0

  21. Saul says:

    I think NE has a much-improved squad, especially with Moreno and the new German defender. There are just too many guys out for this one though.

  22. Joaquin says:

    Mirosevic might be the guy C-Bus has been missing since GBS left

  23. Hugo says:

    Yes, where is the Saturday national TV?

  24. Syd says:

    He is probable for this match.