Photos by David Bernal/ISIphotos.com
By THOMAS FLOYD
All eyes Saturday will be on Sebastien Le Toux.
After his messy offseason departure from Philadelphia, the Vancouver Whitecaps forward will return to the City of Brotherly Love to take on a Union side that appears to be sorely missing his attacking presence.
In other action, U.S. Under-23 stalwarts Perry Kitchen of D.C. United and Brek Shea of FC Dallas will try to put their Olympic disappointment in the past when they face each other Friday at RFK Stadium. On the other end of the country, Chivas USA will look to play giant killer for the second week in a row when 3-0 Sporting Kansas City comes to the Home Depot Center.
Here is a rundown of the full Week 4 slate:
D.C. UNITED vs. FC DALLAS (Friday, 7:30 p.m., NBC Sports)
Returning home after a two-game West Coast swing, United will look to build off last week's scoreless draw in Vancouver and finally put together a complete performance. With just one goal in three games, after all, it's time for Dwayne De Rosario and Co. to start producing.
While United's Perry Kitchen and Dallas' Brek Shea are back from U.S. U-23 duty, D.C. still will be without goalkeeper Bill Hamid, who suffered an ankle injury with the U.S. U-23s, and winger Andy Najar, who remains with Honduras for Olympic qualifying.
TORONTO FC vs. COLUMBUS CREW (Saturday, 2 p.m., TSN)
After notching a tie against Santos Laguna midweek, can Toronto finally replicate its Champions League form in MLS play? It might be difficult since Toronto coach Aron Winter may choose to rest some regulars with a return leg against Santos is slated for Wednesday.
Sparked by newcomers Milovan Mirosevic and Olman Vargas, the Crew during a win over Montreal last week looked much stronger than the side that fell to Colorado in their opener. So this could be a challenging fixture for Toronto, which dropped three points at home last weekend against San Jose.
NEW YORK RED BULLS vs. MONTREAL IMPACT (Saturday, 4 p.m., TSN)
After an ugly 0-2 start, New York can get back to level ground with a win at home over an expansion Montreal side. Look for the in-form forward duo of Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper to cause all sorts of problems for the Impact back line.
Although right back Jeb Brovsky is suspended for this match, Montreal will get U.S. U-23 defender Zarek Valentin back from Olympic qualifying to possibly fill that void.
PHILADELPHIA UNION vs. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (Saturday, 4 p.m., Direct Kick)
It's doubtful Sebastien Le Toux's presence would solve all the problems Philadelphia has experienced in the early stages of this season; however, the perception of his trade leaving the team out of sorts lingers, and it's a feeling that will only be heightened among Union supporters when he comes to town for the first time as a Whitecap.
Bolstering the Union's hopes in this match will be the returns from U.S. U-23 duty of right back Sheanon Williams, holding midfielder Amobi Okugo and playmaker Freddy Adu. And Philadelphia also will be happy to see Vancouver striker Eric Hassli sitting this one out with an ankle injury.
PORTLAND TIMBERS vs. REAL SALT LAKE (Saturday, 10 p.m., Direct Kick)
After promising starts to the season, both teams here will look to get back on track following disappointing losses last weekend. For Salt Lake, the possibility of defender Nat Borchers, midfielders Will Johnson and Javier Morales, and striker Alvaro Saborio being near 100 percent bodes well.
On the other side, the absence of Portland defender Hanyer Mosquera (concussion) could create a particularly tough situation if the Timbers are facing a Salt Lake side at full strength.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS vs. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (Saturday, 10 p.m., Direct Kick)
Continuing a favorable stretch of home games to start the season, Seattle will host a San Jose squad that seemed to be clicking on all cylinders last week during a 3-0 win at Toronto.
Although Mauro Rosales remains out with a knee injury and Eddie Johnson is doubtful with a hip ailment, the emergence of third-year player David Estrada for Seattle has helped negate those absences. And the steady performances of defenders Marc Burch, Patrick Ianni and Zach Scott stepping into the Sounders lineup last week is another welcome development for Seattle.
LOS ANGELES GALAXY vs. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (Saturday, 11 p.m., NBC Sports)
After a blitz of matches to start the year that included a stunning Champions League aggregate loss to Toronto, the Galaxy took last weekend off and should now be rested and completely focused on MLS play.
Making matters worse for New England will again be the absence of U.S. international Benny Feilhaber, who is nursing a peroneal strain. If Revolution coach Jay Heaps again uses Shalrie Joseph in central defense, it should be interesting to see how the MLS stalwart fares against prolific Los Angeles striker Robbie Keane.
COLORADO RAPIDS vs. CHICAGO FIRE (Sunday, 7 p.m., Galavision)
Although Pablo Mastroeni still remains out with a head ailment, Colorado will get Jeff Larentowicz back from suspension — a welcome development considering how disorganized the Rapids looked last week without their two midfield anchors.
Returning this match for the Fire will be goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who surely will be eager to put his crucial blunder in the U.S. U-23s' tie with El Salvador on Monday behind him, though starting is not a guarantee considering how well Italian Paolo Tornaghi played as his replacement.
CHIVAS USA vs. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (Sunday, 9 p.m., Direct Kick)
A week after pulling off the upset of the season thus far at Salt Lake, Chivas will return to the Home Depot Center, where they have failed to score a goal in two matches this season.
Presenting a difficult matchup will be Sporting Kansas City, a team that has looked as sharp as any during these opening weeks of the MLS campaign. Chivas will likely again go with rookie Casey Townsend as a lone striker with Juan Pablo Angel still suffering through concussion-like symptoms.
Pablo can still be an asset to a team, but he doesn’t fit Pareja’s style.
I hope Le Toux burns Nowak. This should be a dogfight.
Expect lot of goals in this one.
Afraid he may be done. The whole thing just seems to be going that way.
On a more positive note for the Rapids, not mentioned above, they’ll also finally have Martin Rivero at their disposal, after FIFA stepped in re the paperwork in that situation. Expect we’ll see him make his MLS debut, even if he doesn’t start.
I really hope the head injury pablo has won’t force his retirement. I know he’s hinted as much, and he didn’t really take a hit that is keeping him out right now.
Looking forward to see how SJ does against Seattle. We’ve gotten a result up there before and our midfield (and the D of course- 3 games in and no goals conceded other than a PK) is vastly improved. Should be a good contest.