MLS Week 7: A Look Ahead

MLS Week 7: A Look Ahead

MLS- Vancouver Whitecaps

MLS Week 7: A Look Ahead

McCartyDeRo (Getty)


By THOMAS FLOYD

D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls will renew their longtime rivalry Sunday, and they'll do so with second place in the Eastern Conference at stake.

The match features two of the league's most in-form teams, with New York unbeaten in four and United undefeated in five. The Red Bulls claimed the Atlantic Cup last year on goal differential after splitting the two-game season series, with each team winning on the road.

Elsewhere, the past two MLS Cup champions will clash when the Colorado Rapids meet the Los Angeles Galaxy, and Buck Shaw Stadium will feature the top two teams in the Western Conference when the San Jose Earthquakes host Real Salt Lake.

Here is a rundown of the full Week 7 slate:

TORONTO FC vs. CHICAGO FIRE (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., NBC Sports)

The league's only winless team, 0-5-0 Toronto should get a massive boost with the stabilizing return of Torsten Frings from a hamstring injury. But with striker Danny Koevermans sidelined by leg ailment, the club will go yet another game without its three Designated Players sharing the field.

While the Fire were poised to welcome Chris Rolfe back into the fold after re-acquiring the forward earlier this week, he is now set to miss the match because of an ankle injury suffered in training.

COLUMBUS CREW vs. HOUSTON DYNAMO (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Direct Kick)

After picking up a point at Chicago last week without three of its four starting midfielders, Houston will be closer to full strength against Columbus following the return from suspension of Adam Moffat.

MVP finalist Brad Davis, however, remains out with a calf injury. This will be good news for the Crew, who have lost two straight and have seen their only wins this year come over lowly Toronto and Montreal. 

COLORADO RAPIDS vs. LOS ANGELES GALAXY (Saturday, 9 p.m., Direct Kick)

The Galaxy will look to continue their climb back up the Western Conference standings with a win on the road against a Colorado team that has lost two in a row after getting off to a 3-1-0 start.

With A.J. DeLaGarza still working his way back from an adductor strain, Galaxy coach Bruce Arena could again go with rookie Tommy Meyer and the recently acquired David Junior Lopes in central defense. 

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS vs. FC DALLAS (Saturday, 10 p.m., Direct Kick)

Surely still feeling the sting of a 3-1 home loss to Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday, Vancouver will hope to get back on track and end their four-game winless stretch against a formidable Dallas squad that enters this fixture on a two-match winning streak.

With playmaker David Ferreira out another four-to-six weeks, Dallas will again lean on winger Brek Shea, who returned to form during a 2-1 win over Montreal last weekend, skillfully striking the late winner.

PORTLAND TIMBERS vs. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (Saturday, 10:30 p.m., Direct Kick)

Kansas City continued its torrid start to 2012 with a convincing 3-1 win over Vancouver on Wednesday. With a trip to Jeld-Wen Field next on the agenda, Peter Vermes' squad will look to make it 2-for-2 on its Pacific Northwest road swing.

This match will serve as a showcase for two of the most exciting young talents to emerge from last year's MLS SuperDraft, with Kansas City boasting Rookie of the Year C.J. Sapong and Portland offering No. 2 pick Darlington Nagbe. 

CHIVAS USA vs. PHILADELPHIA UNION (Saturday, 10:30 p.m., Direct Kick)

After grinding out a slew of impressive results on the road, Chivas will attempt to bring that momentum back home, where Robin Fraser's club is 0-3-0 with no goals scored.

The Union, on the other hand, are looking to build off their first win of the season last week. If playmaker Freddy Adu can string together two fine performances in a row and goalkeeper Zac MacMath continues to rebound from his rocky start, Philadelphia could grab a result away from home.

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES vs. REAL SALT LAKE (Saturday, 10:30 p.m., Direct Kick)

With a win over visiting Salt Lake, the Earthquakes can stake an unlikely claim to the Western Conference throne through their first seven games. But even with Javier Morales (hamstring strain) and Ned Grabavoy (rib cage dislocation) still listed as questionable, Salt Lake will present a tough challenge.

The most intriguing to matchup to watch will be how prolific San Jose striker Chris Wondolowski fares going up against Salt Lake's stingy centerback pairing of Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers.

D.C. UNITED vs. NEW YORK RED BULLS (Sunday, 6 p.m., ESPN2)

United spoiled an opportunity to enter this match with their first two-game winning streak since 2009, settling for a point at home against expansion Montreal on Wednesday while coach Ben Olsen tinkered with his lineup during his team's busy stretch.

For United, getting centerback Emiliano Dudar (hamstring strain) in the lineup will be key considering the Red Bulls boast two strikers tied for the league scoring lead in Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper.

The Red Bulls will be short-handed up the middle, with Rafa Marquez suspended and Teemu Tainio and Wilman Conde injured, which could provide a chance for disappointing D.C. DP Hamdi Salihi a chance to open his MLS account.

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