Photo by Wendy Larsen/ISIphotos.com
By THOMAS FLOYD
FC Dallas is undefeated in its last seven games and the Houston Dynamo is winless in its last five, but all that goes out the window when the rivals renew their Texas derby Saturday in Houston.
Elsewhere, the New England Revolution will host the Los Angeles Galaxy in a rematch of the teams' two MLS Cup showdowns, while Real Salt Lake will look to get back on track at home against Seattle. And the weekend wraps with D.C. United's first trip to play the Portland Timbers.
Here is a rundown of the entire week 11 slate:
TORONTO FC vs. PHILADELPHIA UNION (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Direct Kick)
Toronto FC has suffered through its fare share of tough results this season, but the Reds have hung around in the standings and could climb within two points of first place with a win at home over the Union.
With Philadelphia tied for the league's lowest-scoring offense and Toronto's defense tied for the second-worst in MLS, something will have to give. The Union has had some injury concerns up top lately, but the team is expecting to have Carlos Ruiz (hip flexor strain) and Danny Mwanga (hamstring strain) available.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS vs. NEW YORK RED BULLS (Saturday, 5:30 p.m., TSN)
Entering the match with a four-game winless streak and poised to lose several key players to Gold Cup duty, the Red Bulls could sure use three points in Vancouver to keep pace at the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
With their winless streak now at 10 games, the Whitecaps will be hoping striker Eric Hassli can capitalize against a New York central defense that may again be missing Rafael Marquez due to a groin strain.
COLUMBUS CREW vs. CHIVAS USA (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Direct Kick)
Columbus has fallen back down to earth after its surprisingly hot start, looking thoroughly unimpressive during back-to-back losses. And losing forward Emilio Renteria for this contest to a quad strain will be a tough blow for a team that has only scored eight goals in 12 games this season.
That's good news for the surprisingly effective Chivas centerback pairing of Heath Pearce and Andrew Boyens. Chivas will also be enjoying the attacking duo of Justin Braun and Alejandro Moreno while it still can before Moreno likely misses extended time this summer on Copa America duty for Venezuela.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION vs. LOS ANGELES GALAXY (Saturday, 8 p.m., Galavision)
The Galaxy is arguably playing the best soccer in MLS right now but traveling across the country to perform on New England's artificial turf after a Wednesday fixture is a tough proposition. Considering the depth Los Angeles boasts, expect coach Bruce Arena to slide some fresh faces into the lineup.
After missing Wednesday's game to play in the Gary Neville testimonial, David Beckham will return to the squad and face off with Shalrie Joseph and Benny Feilhaber in a compelling midfield matchup.
CHICAGO FIRE vs. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (Saturday, 8:30 p.m., Direct Kick)
San Jose has finally looked like the 2010 conference finalist that entered this season with high expectations, earning back-to-back wins to improve to 3-4-3. Chicago, on the other hand, has had trouble getting going all season, having notched just a single victory on the campaign.
The good news for Chicago is that striker Diego Chaves is probable despite being held out of training this week with a foot contusion. Defensively, the Fire will be focusing on San Jose striker Chris Wondolowski, whose fine form earned him a place on the U.S. Gold Cup squad.
HOUSTON DYNAMO vs. FC DALLAS (Saturday, 8:30 p.m., Direct Kick)
Now that we've seen the exchange of trash talk between the Texas rivals, it's time to see which team backs it up on the field. Playing its third game in seven days, Dallas will try to overcome some heavy legs and hope the offensive inspiration of Brek Shea and Fabian Castillo is too much for Houston to handle.
The Dynamo also played a midweek match, a 1-0 loss to Los Angeles during which it struggled to find much joy going forward. If Dallas swarms Brad Davis on the left flank the way Los Angeles did, the Dynamo will have to look for some other players in midfield to step up to the plate.
COLORADO RAPIDS vs. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (Saturday, 9 p.m., Direct Kick)
While Omar Cummings and Caleb Folan are still working to get back for Colorado, Kansas City got its own star striker, Omar Bravo, back from an extended injury absence last week. Kansas City will be hoping to see the chemistry between him and Teal Bunbury continue to build now the team knows it won't be losing Bunbury for the Gold Cup.
Coming off four consecutive draws, Colorado knows it should get a win at home against a struggling Kansas City side. And Conor Casey should be back in the starting lineup for the Rapids after coming off the bench Wednesday for Colorado's second game in four days.
REAL SALT LAKE vs. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (Saturday, 9 p.m., Direct Kick)
In what is becoming an increasingly common occurrence this season, this match pits two teams still trying to adapt to the long-term losses of dynamic attacking talents — Javier Morales for Salt Lake, Steve Zakuani for Seattle.
The game will also feature two star strikers who have underachieved thus far this season in Salt Lake's Alvaro Saborio and Seattle's Fredy Montero. The task will be particularly hard for Montero, as Salt Lake has limited opponents to just two goals in eight games this year.
PORTLAND TIMBERS vs. D.C. UNITED (Sunday, 5 p.m., Direct Kick)
With Josh Wolff seemingly set for a substitute's role due to a groin strain and Charlie Davies doubtful with a hamstring ailment, United will depend on the partnership of Santino Quaranta and Joseph Ngwenya up top unless Blake Brettschneider sneaks his way into the starting 11.
Between United's Andy Najar and Chris Pontius and Portland's Khalif Alhassan and Darlington Nagbe, there is sure to be plenty of dynamic play on the flanks for both sides. United defensively will be paying very close attention to Timbers forward Kenny Cooper, who tormented D.C. during his time with Dallas.