MLS Week 6: A Look Ahead

MLS Week 6: A Look Ahead

Major League Soccer

MLS Week 6: A Look Ahead

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ZusiGil (Getty)


By THOMAS FLOYD

After much debate over who is the top team in MLS at this early stage in 2012, Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City will resolve matters just as the soccer gods intended — on the field.

The matchup between 5-1-0 Salt Lake and 5-0-0 Kansas City — the league's final unbeaten team — is the centerpiece of a packed MLS slate this weekend featuring nine games.

Elsewhere, the Seattle Sounders will host the Colorado Rapids in a marquee Western Conference clash, and two of the league's hottest teams will meet when the New York Red Bulls go head-to-head with the San Jose Earthquakes.

Here is a rundown of the full Week 6 slate:

PHILADELPHIA UNION vs. COLUMBUS CREW (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., NBC Sports)

Playoff teams from a year ago, Philadelphia and Columbus both experienced their fair amount of offseason turnover, as Philadelphia saw Sebastien Le Toux and Faryd Mondragon walk out the door, while Columbus parted ways with Andres Mendoza and Robbie Rogers.

The aftermath, thus far, hasn't been pretty. Philadelphia sits with the second-worst record in MLS at 0-3-1. While Columbus does have a pair of wins, they came over two of the league's weakest teams in Montreal and Toronto.

NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION vs. D.C. UNITED (Saturday, 4 p.m., Direct Kick)

After slow starts, these longtime Eastern Conference foes are playing much better of late, with United undefeated in three games and the Revolution winners of two of their past three.

New England will be without the suspended Shalrie Joseph in this contest, putting even more of the burden on ex-D.C. midfielder Clyde Simms. United coach Ben Olsen, meanwhile, has Andy Najar back among his options after the winger missed two games on Honduran Under-23 national team duty and another due to illness.

SEATTLE SOUNDERS vs. COLORADO RAPIDS (Saturday, 4 p.m., Direct Kick)

Much attention in this contest will be devoted to Colorado winger Brian Mullan, who will be playing in Seattle for the first time since he broke the leg of Sounders midfielder Steve Zakuani with a vicious tackle last season.

Seattle could get a boost in this one if Mauro Rosales makes his return from a knee sprain that has kept him out of action the past several weeks. Eddie Johnson is also nearing 100 percent as he looks to make an on-field impact for the first time since coming back to MLS.

TORONTO FC vs. CHIVAS USA (Saturday, 4:30 p.m., Direct Kick)

Can Toronto FC, the only team left in the league without a result, get a point (or three) in this one? Toronto might have a better chance if it was playing Chivas at the Home Depot Center, where the Goats are 0-3 with no goals scored.

Toronto's hopes Saturday could be largely contingent on the health of defender-midfielder Torsten Frings, who may make his return from a hamstring strain. Veteran Canadian centerback Adrian Cann is also expected to make his return from a long injury layoff, which would provide a much-needed boost to the TFC back line.

NEW YORK RED BULLS vs. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (Saturday, 7 p.m., Direct Kick)

Both clubs enter this clash at Red Bull Arena on three-game winning streaks for a match that will feature the three leading scorers in MLS, with New York boasting Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper and San Jose trotting out Chris Wondolowski.

Wilman Conde's injury concerns will leave New York shorthanded defensively, which means we could again see Stephen Keel partner with Markus Holgersson in central defense. 

FC DALLAS vs. MONTREAL IMPACT (Saturday, 8:30 p.m., Direct Kick)

After much experimenting, Montreal seemed to find the right formula against Toronto in the franchise's first MLS win last week, with Matteo Ferrari and Shavar Thomas partnering in central defense, Collen Warner joining Felipe Martins in the middle of the park, and Bernardo Corradi playing alongside Sanna Nyassi up top.

Dallas, meanwhile, did some testing of its own last week, straying from its standard 4-5-1 formation to a 4-4-2 that partnered Fabian Castillo with Blas Perez at forward. It'll be intriguing to see how these new looks for both sides clash come Saturday.

SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs. REAL SALT LAKE (Saturday, 8:30 p.m., Direct Kick)

Kansas City and Salt Lake aren't just the two best teams in MLS right now — they're probably the two most entertaining clubs to watch as well. Both squads play a technical, possession-oriented style that should make Saturday's encounter a joy to watch, though Kansas City does rely a bit more on speed and physicality.

This contest could very well hinge on the performances of Salt Lake's Kyle Beckerman and Kansas City's Graham Zusi, who are arguably the two most in-form central midfielders in MLS. Another matchup to watch? Keep an eye on how Kansas City striker C.J. Sapong fares mixing it up with Salt Lake centerbacks Nat Borchers and Jamison Olave.

LOS ANGELES GALAXY vs. PORTLAND TIMBERS (Saturday, 10:30 p.m., Direct Kick)

The start to 2012 hasn't exactly gone according to plan for these two teams, both of whom entered the season with high expectations. The Galaxy have struggled to a 1-3-0 start despite their star-studded roster, while the Timbers have surrendered leads in back-to-back losses at home, dropping to 1-3-1.

After acquiring David Junior Lopes in a trade with Chivas USA this week, Galaxy coach Bruce Arena could be tempted to thrust the centerback right into action and relegate both Tommy Meyer and Andrew Boyens to the bench.

CHICAGO FIRE vs. HOUSTON DYNAMO (Sunday, 7 p.m., Galavision)

With Adam Moffat and Colin Clark serving suspensions and Brad Davis sidelined by a calf strain, it's going to be a makeshift midfield, to say the least, for the Dynamo against Chicago.

Both teams should be well-rested for this fixture, as Houston and Chicago have played a league-low three games each, even though some teams have already played six matches. While Chicago is coming off a bye week, the Dynamo haven't played since March 23.

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