A season after finishing atop their respective conferences, Sporting Kansas City and the Los Angeles Galaxy are two teams now going in different directions.
Kansas City has ridden the momentum of a first-place finish in the Eastern Conference in last year, getting off to a 4-0-0 start. The Galaxy, on the other hand, have struggled to replicate the form that earned them the Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup in 2012, dropping two matches at the Home Depot Center in the season's opening month.
Saturday's clash between Kansas City and Los Angeles at Livestrong Sporting Park headlines another weekend of MLS action, which also include the renewal of the Rocky Mountain Cup rivalry between Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids, as well as the first MLS meeting between Canadian foes Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact.
Here is a rundown of the full Week 5 slate:
MONTREAL IMPACT vs. TORONTO FC (Saturday, 12 p.m., TSN)
With Montreal (0-4-1) and Toronto (0-3-0), arguably the league's two worst teams will be facing off in this match at Olympic Stadium. But considering the amount of pride that will be on the line in this new MLS rivalry, you can throw the records out the window.
Both teams will enter this contest coming off tough midweek losses, as Montreal dropped a 1-0 match at Real Salt Lake and Toronto fell 6-2 in Mexico to Santos Laguna in the second leg of a Champions League semifinal.
COLUMBUS CREW vs. NEW YORK RED BULLS (Saturday, 3 p.m., Univision)
After slow starts, these Eastern Conference foes have both won back-to-back games to help alleviate some early-season concerns. For Columbus, the offensive emergence of newcomers Milovan Mirosevic and Olman Vargas has been a welcome development.
New York, meanwhile, has seen the strike partnership of Kenny Cooper and MLS Player of the Month Thierry Henry thrive amid Juan Agudelo's injury setback and Luke Rodgers' contract termination because of visa issues.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs. LOS ANGELES GALAXY (Saturday, 4 p.m., ESPN)
Can the Galaxy bounce back from an embarrassing 3-1 home loss to New England last week? A trip to Livestrong Sporting Park to take on undefeated Kansas City will be no easy task, even if Landon Donovan returns from the quad injury that sidelined him against the Revolution.
Considering the goal-scoring form of Kansas City striker C.J. Sapong, the Galaxy will need an improved outing in central defense, whether it's Andrew Boyens or Tommy Meyer starting alongside A.J. DeLaGarza.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES vs. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (Saturday, 7 p.m., Direct Kick)
Two of the biggest surprises to kick off the 2012 campaign have been San Jose (3-1-0) and Vancouver (2-0-2). The key to both teams' success: steady defending. San Jose has only allowed one goal, while Vancouver has posted four straight shutouts.
That's not to say there won't be offensive talent on display. San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski is tied for second in the league in goals with four, while Vancouver will get Newcomer of the Year finalist Eric Hassli back from an ankle injury.
D.C. UNITED vs. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Direct Kick)
Seattle will return to the site of its 2009 U.S. Open Cup final triumph to renew what has developed into an underrated feud between the Sounders and D.C. United. After suffering its first loss last week, Seattle will hope the possible returns of forward Eddie Johnson (hip strain) and playmaker Mauro Rosales (knee strain) will give the club a boost.
One storyline to watch will be the play of the two left backs after Seattle's Marc Burch told The Seattle Times this week that he is a better defender than Daniel Woolard, the player United opted to keep instead of him this past offseason.
REAL SALT LAKE vs. COLORADO RAPIDS (Saturday, 9 p.m., Direct Kick)
With both teams sitting toward the top of the Western Conference standings, this Rocky Mountain Cup match will have a substantial impact on the table while also feeding into the team's heated rivalry.
Salt Lake will be once again be shorthanded for this one, as playmaker Javier Morales suffered a hamstring strain late in a midweek win over Montreal, while midfielder Ned Grabavoy suffered a rib injury in the same contest.
PORTLAND TIMBERS vs. CHIVAS USA (Saturday, 10:30 p.m., Direct Kick)
A week after suffering a heartbreaking last-minute loss to Salt Lake, Portland will try to rebound against a Chivas team that has scored just one goal in four games — three of which have been at home.
For the Timbers, a return from injury for winger Kalif Alhassan (groin strain) would add even more punch to an attack that in recent weeks has been driven by the emerging play of dynamic midfielder-forward Darlington Nagbe.
And people will (like usual) rely on inaccurate but conventional views instead of looking into what the reality of a situation is.
Of course, I hope there aren’t more injuries, too. After all, the one Mastroeni is still trying to recover from occurred in a collision with Olave in the two teams’ prior match late last season, and there is considerable speculation now that it may be career-ending.
I just hope there aren’t more injuries. Colorado will (like usual) play for blood and not the ball.
Without Casey, I don’t think they have a chance. He is the heart and soul of that team.
Sure, go ahead and tell yourself that…
“Salt Lake will be once again be shorthanded for this one…”
…as will Colorado once again, with Casey, Mastroeni and Smith all still out.
Always look forward to the RSL-Colorado game! Very heated rivalry and should make for an entertaining game. Go RSL!
It’s worse, Burch also left Wondo alone in front of goal to cover someone farther away, Wondo got the ball and scuffed it right to GK – normally a sure goal.
Nah… soft PK, lucky deflection, soft PK. 2 disallowed goals for DC.
Cause Nowak will be there come Monday…
haha Burch talking trash in the media the week after he single-handedly caused his team to lose by coughing up a bone-headed penalty
They will definitely lose.
Only 1000+ TFC fans expected in Montreal tomorrow, would’ve been 3 or 4 times that number a couple of seasons ago
lemme guess, Marc Burch with the hat trick? D.C. UNITED!!
This might be the rare week where Philly won’t lose…unless there’s a reserve game or soemthing.
DC – Seattle might be the most fun game of the weekend
… will lose 3-0 …