MLS Week 16: A Look Ahead

MLS Week 16: A Look Ahead

Major League Soccer

MLS Week 16: A Look Ahead

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By TRAVIS CLARK

With the transfer window now open, new faces will begin to see the pitch as MLS heads towards another weekend of action.

New signing Thierry Henry won't debut as New York heads to Columbus, but Thursday night already featured two new players with Branko Bošković and Pablo Hernandez earning playing time for D.C. United.

Now that SuperLiga is underway and the fact that it's also international friendly season, a smaller slate of games is on its way this weekend. The high-profile match is the top two teams in the Eastern Conference, with the Red Bulls traveling to Columbus to face the Crew.

Here's a quick look at this weekend's matches:

TORONTO FC (6-4-4) vs. PHILADELPHIA UNION (3-8-2), Sunday, 3:30 PM MLS Direct Kick

Philadelphia's home stand continues at PPL Park, as the Union look to snap Toronto's unbeaten run and climb off the bottom of the league standings. 

The visitors have sights set on a top spot in the East, and three points on the road would help narrow the gap. Dwayne De Rosario, who throws Toronto on his back so often, can only hope the addition of Mista will relieve him from carrying the brunt of Toronto's offense threat. The Spanish striker will likely start this one from the bench, however, a move that could cost the Reds points.

Toronto's offense has struggled — they've only scored more than one goal in a league match once since May 8. That said, they've been able to grind out the results when needed and should be able to do so against Philadelphia. Philadelphia 1, Toronto 1.

NEW YORK RED BULLS (8-5-2) vs. COLUMBUS CREW (8-3-4), Saturday, 7:30 p.m., MLS Direct Kick

The top-two in the East tilt will be without New York's new signing, but a Red Bull road win would see them overtake Columbus in the standings.

Columbus couldn't unlock Kansas City's defense in a Wednesday evening meeting, and New York will have an advantage from a fitness perspective. Whether that translates into enough goals remains to be seen, as the Red Bulls have struggled to create scoring opportunities of late, and will certainly continue to do so against Chad Marshall. Columbus 2, New York 0.

REAL SALT LAKE (9-3-3) vs. FC DALLAS (5-2-7), Saturday, 8:30 p.m., MLS Direct Kick

Improvement and consistency have been more present in Frisco this year, and this without the goal-scoring heroics of Jeff Cunningham, who has been very quiet of late.

David Ferreira has driven the offense, scoring a late goal to earn a point in Seattle. Dallas has kept themselves at a respectable level in the standings by tying, and they'll be up against it with Real Salt Lake coming into town.

The return of Kyle Beckerman to the RSL midfield is a possibility, and his return would prove a timely boost as Salt Lake hopes to hunt down the Galaxy out west. The Claret-and-Colbat have begun to shown signs of life on the road, and are poised to continue to do so in Texas. Real Salt Lake 2, FC Dallas 1.

KANSAS CITY WIZARDS (4-8-3) vs. COLORADO RAPIDS (6-4-4), Saturday, 9 p.m., MLS Direct Kick

Will a mid-week win over Eastern Conference leaders Columbus swing the momentum for Kansas City? The Wizards can only hope so, after grinding out a win at Crew Stadium thanks to a Teal Bunbury goal and Jimmy Nielsen.

The Rapids will be a stiff challenge at altitude. Even though the big guns of Omar Cummings and Conor Casey have yet to fire at their 2009 level, Colorado is well positioned to make the playoffs. Former Wizard Claudio Lopez, earning playing time every so often at his new club, will certainly be on the hunt to punish his former team. Colorado 1, Kansas City 0.

LOS ANGELES GALAXY (11-2-3) vs. D.C. UNITED (3-10-3), Sunday, 7:30 p.m., FSC/FSE

Anyone holding out for a D.C. United turnaround will have to keep waiting. After Thursday night's 1-0 loss to Seattle, United has now been shutout 11 times in 16 games, and with the league's best defense coming to town, it's hard to imagine it getting any better.

Stranger things have happened, of course, with the Revolution scoring twice last weekend against LA. The return of Omar Gonzalez from yellow card  suspension will steady the back, while Landon Donovan should also see some playing time — unless Arena gives him another game off. Los Angeles 2, D.C. United 0.

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