MLS Week 3: A Look Ahead

Eddie Johnson (Getty)

By THOMAS FLOYD

Ladies and gentleman, MLS Rivalry Week has arrived.

The league’s new venture that packs all of its heated feuds into a single weekend of soccer features plenty of intense matchups. The festivities kick off Saturday with a renewal of the Atlantic Cup, as D.C. United will face the New York Red Bulls for the first time since last fall’s chaotic playoff series.

Next up is the battle for America’s heartland between Sporting Kansas City and the Chicago Fire, followed by the Rocky Mountain Cup featuring Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids. And last but not least Saturday, the Seattle Sounders will host the Portland Timbers in a Cascadia Cup duel.

And the action continues Sunday, with FC Dallas facing the Houston Dynamo in this year’s sole Texas Derby before the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA add another chapter to SuperClasico history.

Here is a rundown of the full Week 3 slate:

NEW YORK RED BULLS vs. D.C. UNITED (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., NBC)

Last year’s playoff series had it all: Own goals and red cards. A superstorm and a nor’easter. Penalty kick saves. A late winner. With a little snow in the forecast for Saturday morning, Red Bull Arena could have a familiar feel for Mike Petke’s home coaching debut.

United get captain Dwayne De Rosario back from suspension, but keep an eye on the matchup between midfielder Nick DeLeon and whoever plays left back for New York, whether it be Roy Miller, Heath Pearce or Connor Lade. Miller’s performances have left that position up in the air, and New York will need a good performance to snuff the second-year winger who burned them last year.

SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs. CHICAGO FIRE (Saturday, 3 p.m., NBCSN)

Both teams will want to get back on track in this one, with Kansas City returning home after a loss in Toronto last weekend and the Fire sitting at 0-2 following defeats to Los Angeles and New England.

With both clubs offering revamped midfields, the middle of the park should be intriguing. If Jeff Larentowicz and Joel Lindpere can keep up with Kansas City’s trio of Paulo Nagamura, Uri Rosell and Benny Feilhaber, the Fire might have a chance at stealing a result away from home.

MONTREAL IMPACT vs. TORONTO FC (Saturday, 4 p.m., TSN/RDS)

A year ago, this wouldn’t have been the most fascinating of games. But a week after Canadian teams swept their matches for the first time, this tilt should have plenty of energy.

Keep an eye on the matchup between Toronto striker Robert Earnshaw and Montreal centerbacks Alessandro Nesta and Matteo Ferrari. All boasting substantial European pedigrees, those three players have played big parts in their clubs’ unlikely surges.

PHILADELPHIA UNION vs. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (Saturday, 5 p.m., MLS Live/Univision Dep.)

The Union are undefeated in seven meetings with the Revolution, and they’ll try to keep it that way in this battle between clubs coming off impressive road victories.

In a head-to-head clash between two of the more athletic and talented young players in MLS, Union centerback Amobi Okugo — with the help of partner Jeff Parke — will try to hold Revolution striker Jerry Bengtson in check.

COLUMBUS CREW vs. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (Saturday, 5:30 p.m., MLS Live)

Thanks to the unlikely heroics of Adam Jahn (and a little — well, a lot of — help from Roy Miller), San Jose returned to its dramatic winning ways last week against New York. Now, they travel for the first time this year to face a Columbus team playing its home opener after a 1-1 start.

When it comes to containing crafty Columbus attacker Federico Higuain, San Jose likely will need Sam Cronin and Rafael Baca to win the midfield battles and halt the reigning Newcomer of the Year before he can get close to goal.

REAL SALT LAKE vs. COLORADO RAPIDS (Saturday, 6 p.m., MLS Live)

Following a split on the road to start the season, Salt Lake returns to the considerable comforts of Rio Tinto Stadium, where they will host an 0-2 Rapids side. The home team has not lost in the Rocky Mountain Cup since 2007 — when RSL won in Colorado.

Both clubs will be far from full strength in this one, with Salt Lake still missing Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert and Javier Morales, while Colorado will be without Martin Rivero and Jaime Castrillon. To boot, Edson Buddle, Pablo Mastroeni and Matt Pickens are questionable for the Rapids.

SEATTLE SOUNDERS vs. PORTLAND TIMBERS (Saturday, 8 p.m., NBCSN)

Capping a full day of MLS action on the NBC family of networks will be the grand finale between these heated Cascadia Cup foes. Seattle will look to carry over the momentum from its epic midweek Champions League comeback, while Portland will try to work out the kinks that left it with just a single point from two home games.

In what could be the first of many entertaining battles between them, Sounders defensive midfielder Osvaldo Alonso will face new Portland playmaker Diego Valeri. Whichever team gets the best of that matchup should find itself in pretty good shape.

FC DALLAS vs. HOUSTON DYNAMO (Sunday, 1 p.m., ESPN2)

If anything would make the Dynamo feel better after being ousted from the Champions League, it would be going to FC Dallas Stadium and claiming El Capitan for another year.

With Blas Perez back from suspension, Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman will have some tough decision to make as he tries to find room for the myriad attacking pieces he now has at his disposal.

LOS ANGELES GALAXY vs. CHIVAS USA (Sunday, 5 p.m., UniMas)

Chivas should finally be able to play in front of a real crowd at Home Depot Center as they “travel” to visit the Galaxy, who have been just fine in MLS and Champions League play without David Beckham and Landon Donovan.

Chivas do present a challenge up top in the form of young, havoc-wreaking strikers Tristan Bowen and Juan Agudelo, who should make sure Galaxy centerbacks Omar Gonzalez and Leonardo stay busy.

———

What are your thoughts on MLS Rivalry Week? Do you like the league’s effort to emphasize regional feuds? What is the best matchup of the bunch?

Share your thoughts below.

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28 Responses to MLS Week 3: A Look Ahead

  1. WK says:

    The ‘SuperClasico’ is a fabrication, though Chelis’ latest comments will rile up Arena.

    Everybody knows the real rivalry in CA is LA-SJ.

  2. JC says:

    Timbers roll the Sounders who are still shocked they beat Tigres. Valeri controls the game and Porter starts his streak of 10 straight games without a loss to SSFC.

    • Hopper says:

      Keep dreaming. Portland is nothing more than Seattle Jr.

      • Chance says:

        Call us when you have some chants you didn’t “borrow.”

      • ed - houston says:

        i was thinking the same thing. and even if Seattle “borrowed” some chants… no big deal, all teams do that to certain extents.

      • Kejsare says:

        Au contraire, Portland was founded before Seattle. Makes us older, but smaller.

    • SteveE says:

      I think our new toy may say otherwise. Have fun with Oba tomorrow.

    • Charles says:

      Dream on, Seattle went a different direction than Portland, we signed a DP forward that will actually score.

    • pdublu says:

      Ten straight games. That would be quite a reversal for fortune for a side that has yet to win, has already allowed 2.5 gpg, and who racked up one of the worst MLS road records of all time in 2012.

      The CCL pace that the Sounders have been subject of late to makes Portland appear to be moving in slow motion. The Timbers have improved a lot. But not a lot enough. I think they will be much more difficult to deal with later in the season, though. Cascadia competition will be tight in 2013.

  3. arnold devries says:

    Five thousand TFC supporters heading to Montreal. Beat the Tabernaques

  4. EasyE says:

    C’mon DCU!

    • Chris2 says:

      Sorry, RBNY home win. It’s too early in the season for the Red Bulls to do their swan dive–they like to wait until August.

  5. William the Terror says:

    Who is Freddy Adu not playing for this weekend?

    • NewtonH says:

      For some reason, this touched a nerve. Screw Philly. They offered Adu a contract and now, they are unwilling to honor that contract. It’s not Adu’s fault that they overpaid. If someone offered me half a million to do my job, am I going to say “oh no guys, I’m really worth a lot less?” Or if my current employer comes in one day and says “hey, by the way, we want to cut your pay by 75%,” of course I’m going to be pissed.

      If anything, Adu’s past was out there; we all know it. We’ve seen him bounce around, and the Union were the ones stupid enough to give him the money. But the problem is – Adu has a future in this league and quite possibly with the USMNT, and in this case, the Union are directly responsible for stunting his development. As a fan of USMNT, I’m concerned. A club in our domestic league is sabotaging the career of a pool player because of their own business failings. Unfortunately, Freddy doesn’t get a whole lot of sympathy because of his own prior actions and those of his handlers, but at the end of the day, what Philly is doing to his career is not right.

      • Hopper says:

        I agree. Whatever Adu’s shortcomings may be, he’s still a quality player that has a big upside on the field. He needs to be playing.

        • JC says:

          Gulati should hire Tony Robbins or Oprah to motivate him to get it together. (His talent, not the Philly contract thing because I agree with Newton)

      • DUDEEROO says:

        Adu is not a quality player. Adu has technical ball skill and can make a good pass – periodically. Adu doesn’t have a soccer brain, and his shortcomings hurt every team he is on, and it has always done so in the past. He has no idea how to actually play the game in a competitive environment unless the entire team works to help compensate for his lack of positional awareness and strength. Adu is a don’t.

        He would be better suited to the soccer version of the Harlem Globtrotters – all skill, no substance.

        Blast away. Just my $0.02.

        • NewtonH says:

          The issue is not what you or I think of Freddy Adu’s abilities. It’s hard to rate a player that is not currently playing who has had an up and down career, but is still young. This issue is a former national team player is being frozen out by a club in our own domestic league due to their own business failings. At 23, Freddy still has tremendous upside both on a club level and a national team level, but whether or not he continues to develop remains to be seen. But at this point, he’s not even getting a chance. As a USMNT fan who wants to see improved development in all of the players in the pool, this situation is concerning.

          • SoB says:

            How many clubs does he have to play/fail for before it’s him and not the club(s)? Just wondering. Freddy apologists need to look at the facts. Next club is #9 in 9 years. Look, I think Freddy has all kinds of skill, but when you play for that many teams and have a hard time fitting in It’s not the fault of 8 clubs.

  6. Dimidri says:

    This would have been better to have Chicago play Columbus, Kansas City play Houston, LA San Jose, then of the three misfits have Vancouver (the best team) play Chivas/Dallas.

    • ed - houston says:

      makes sense to me but scheduling, even at the youth level, is a P I T A …. i am just glad they incorporated a rivalry week into the season.

  7. Amru says:

    I’m a broke college kid that wants cheap tickets to the Costa Rica game. Anyone know where I could find some?

  8. Miki says:

    Looks like Oba Martins will be in town tonight, could be in the 18 against Portland tomorrow.

    Joshua Mayers @joshuamayers

    Sigi Schmid on Obafemi Martins: “Depending on their being no hiccups on the arrival of his flight, he’s eligible for our 18 tomorrow.”

    • ed - houston says:

      damn, that would be very fast for an Int’l Transfer Certificate, but yeah, why not, let him play asap, no better opponet than your main rival.

  9. krazymunky says:

    IM SO EXCITED FOR RIVALRY WEEK!!!!

    oh wait my Whitecaps have a bye….

    • Charles says:

      June 8th, the 127th ( ? ) game versus the Sounders is right around the corner.
      Enjoy not crying over a loss while you can.