MLS Week 2: A Look Ahead

MLS Week 2: A Look Ahead

Major League Soccer

MLS Week 2: A Look Ahead

By

Braun (Reuters)


By THOMAS FLOYD

Come Saturday, the city of Montreal will officially introduce itself to Major League Soccer.

After starting the season on the road last weekend, the expansion Impact will play their home opener against the Chicago Fire at Olympic Stadium. After Vancouver and Portland claimed triumphs in their home debuts as expansion sides last year, Montreal will look to follow suit.

Out west, meanwhile, Real Salt Lake will hope to make it 2-for-2 this season against big-budget clubs with a win over the New York Red Bulls following last week's triumph against Los Angeles. With the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals in the books, Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders will kick off their MLS campaigns against each other at CenturyLink Field.

Here is a rundown of the full Week 2 slate:

MONTREAL IMPACT vs. CHICAGO FIRE (Saturday, 2 p.m., TSN)

Considering the high standards for raucous atmospheres set by recent expansion sides Seattle, Philadelphia, Vancouver and Portland, the Montreal faithful will have a lot to live up to Saturday. After getting shut out in their opener against Vancouver, the Impact now have Italian striker Bernardo Corradi at their disposal.

This match marks the season opener for the Fire, who were on bye last weekend and enter the campaign with raised expectations after ending 2011 on a torrid run that almost took the team to the playoffs.

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES vs. HOUSTON DYNAMO (Saturday, 5 p.m. Direct Kick)

Both teams eked out 1-0 wins in Week 1, with a Chris Wondolowski strike giving San Jose a victory over New England and Andre Hainault's late tally leading Houston to a triumph against Chivas USA.

After Will Bruin failed to make much of an impact in a starting role for Houston last week, coach Dominic Kinnear may give Calen Carr, a starter throughout last season's playoff run, or offseason acquisition Macoumba Kandji the chance to start alongside Brian Ching up top.

FC DALLAS vs. PORTLAND TIMBERS (Saturday, 8:30 p.m., Direct Kick)

Two of Week 1's most impressive wins came courtesy of these teams. Dallas looked sharp in a 2-1 victory over New York despite the absence of playmaker David Ferreira, while Portland scored three unanswered goals in the second half to pick up a 3-1 triumph over Philadelphia.

Dallas, however, will need someone to step offensively this time around, with catalyst Brek Shea on U.S. Under-23 national team duty ahead of the Olympic qualifying tournament.

SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (Saturday, 8:30 p.m., Direct Kick)

After stealing a late win at D.C. United last weekend, Kansas City returns to the comforts of Livestrong Sporting Park for another match against an Eastern Conference foe.

While Teal Bunbury will miss this game because of his call-up to the U.S. U-23s, Kansas City has the luxury of replacing him with last week's goal-scorer, reigning Rookie of the Year C.J. Sapong. For New England, the status of centerback A.J. Soares (questionable with a knee sprain) will be critical.

REAL SALT LAKE vs. NEW YORK RED BULLS (Saturday, 10 p.m., Direct Kick)

As impressive as Salt Lake's win at Los Angeles was last weekend, seeing the Galaxy crash out of the Champions League with a home loss against Toronto a few days later does make one wonder if that result was also a product of Los Angeles' early-season funk.

Salt Lake will have a chance to silence any doubters against the Red Bulls, who struggled defensively but did get into a better attacking rhythm late in a 2-1 loss to Dallas in their season opener.

SEATTLE SOUNDERS vs. TORONTO FC (Saturday, 10 p.m., Direct Kick)

Who would have thought that by the time this fixture rolled around, Toronto would be the only MLS team left standing the Champions League? But thanks to the Reds' stunning upset of Los Angeles, that's the case. After falling 6-1 in to Santos Laguna during its midweek Champions League match, Seattle will hope a return to CenturyLink Field will help the club forget about that ungraceful elimination.

Although Seattle swept Toronto last year, the two matches came in April and June, before coach Aron Winter and Co. overhauled the personnel and brought in a group that finally is giving Toronto fans reason for optimism.

CHIVAS USA vs. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (Saturday, 10:30 p.m., Direct Kick)

Are the Whitecaps, with an enviable attack featuring Sebastien Le Toux, Eric Hassli and Camilo, good enough to compete for a playoff berth this year? We'll have a better idea after seeing how Vancouver fares on the road in a winnable game against Chivas.

For Chivas, it will be critical that they control the flow of the game more than they did in their opening loss to Houston, during which the club relied far too heavily on the heroics of goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.

PHILADELPHIA UNION vs. COLORADO RAPIDS (Sunday, 4 p.m., NBC Sports)

Philadelphia's new-look attack struggled Monday against Portland, but the Union may get a pass considering the difficulty many road teams have dealing with the tight dimensions and turf surface at Jeld-Wen Field.

Colorado, on the other hand, looked sharp in Week 1 while deploying new coach Oscar Pareja's 4-3-3 formation in a 2-0 win over Columbus. How Philadelphia handles the overlapping runs of Rapids right back Kosuke Kimura will be key.

LOS ANGELES GALAXY vs. D.C. UNITED (Sunday, 7 p.m., Galavision)

With the Galaxy playing their fourth game in two weeks and coming off a disheartening midweek loss to Toronto that knocked them out of the Champions League, don't be surprised if coach Bruce Arena puts plenty of fresh legs on the field against D.C.

United, meanwhile, will hope to find more cohesion going forward after looking thoroughly out of sync during a 1-0 loss to Kansas City last weekend. With goalkeeper Bill Hamid and midfielder Perry Kitchen with the U.S. U-23s, look for Joe Willis to fill in between the posts and Marcelo Saragosa to start in central midfield.

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