MLS Talking Points: Galaxy depth tested, FC Dallas seeks to break KC jinx and more

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Injuries and suspensions have the LA Galaxy facing the possibility of a second straight home loss to start the new season

Though the pomp and circumstance of Major League Soccer's opening weekend is behind us, there are still several teams still awaiting their home season debuts, and those teams will offer some of the better storylines of the second week of the 2017 season.

The expansion Loons of Minnesota United will look to erase the bad taste of a 5-1 loss in Portland by beating expansion classmate Atlanta United at home on Sunday.

The New York market will be busy this weekend, with both area teams playing their home openers. The New York Red Bulls return to Red Bull Arena off a dramatic comeback win in Atlanta, facing the Colorado Rapids, while New York City FC returns to Yankee Stadium to take on D.C. United in a battle of teams seeking their first win of the season.

The Chicago Fire play their first match at Toyota Park on Saturday, hoping to build on last week's road draw in Columbus, while New England and Montreal will be hoping to not only earn their first points of the season, but also score their first goals. 

Here is a closer look at the key talking points heading into MLS Week 2:


IT'S A BIG WEEKEND FOR ... THE LA GALAXY

Curt Onalfo MLS LA Galaxy 03042017

A season-opening home loss to FC Dallas wasn't likely to dent Curt Onalfo's confidence in keeping the LA Galaxy among the league's elite this year, but he should be a little worried about the possibility of starting the season with a pair of home losses.

MLS did the Galaxy no favors during the week, announcing the suspensions of Jermaine Jones and David Romney for their actions during last week's loss to FC Dallas. Jones was punished for a reckless tackle from behind, while Romney was suspended for what was deemed a dive that led to the Galaxy drawing a penalty eventually converted by Gio Dos Santos.

Now the Galaxy are set to take on a dangerous Portland Timbers squad without their starting fullbacks (Ashley Cole, Robbie Rogers), starting striker (Gyasi Zardes) and starting central midfielder (Jones). And this is the same Timbers team that just ravaged Minnesota United last week.

Fear not Galaxy fans, there might be some silver linings. Jones' suspension could lead Onalfo into sliding Sebastian Lletget into central midfield, where he is best suited. That would open up a spot for speedy winger Ema Boateng, who could exploit a short-handed Timbers defense. The Galaxy also received some good news this week in the form of Zardes and Cole returning to training. They are expected back soon, but their absence will be felt on Sunday.

Luckily for the Galaxy, Portland is also facing some health issues, with left back Vytas set to miss Sunday's match, and fellow defensive starters Liam Ridgwell and Alvas Powell listed as questionable. If the Timbers are missing three-fourths of their back line, it just might be what the Galaxy need to secure a win.

Of course, the Timbers are probably also licking their chops at the possibility of going at a third-string left back and backup right back with the dangerous wing tandem of Darlington Nagbe and Sebastian Blanco. That isn't a duo you want to hand a defender his MLS debut against.

A loss on Sunday could set up the Galaxy for a serious stumble out of the blocks, what with road trips to Real Salt Lake and Vancouver looming afterwards.


DON'T MISS ... SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs. FC DALLAS

Dom Dwyer Matt Hedges MLS 06192017

While the Galaxy worry about opening the season with a pair of home losses, FC Dallas could open the season in dream fashion, with a pair of road wins against tough opponents. However, winning at Sporting Kansas City hasn't been easy for Oscar Pareja's men and won't be easy on Saturday.

FC Dallas hasn't won on the road against Sporting Kansas City since 2011, and has lost three straight by a combined score of 9-1 at Children's Mercy Park. Things are different now though as FC Dallas makes the trip north boasting a stacked squad that just might be the best team in MLS.

Sporting KC didn't exactly dazzle in a season-opening draw at D.C. United, but Peter Vermes' side is a different team at home, and will look to test a tough Dallas defense, particularly with Dom Dwyer, who has enjoyed his share of battles with Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman through the years.

One key battle to watch will be in midfield, where two men hoping to impress Bruce Arena will do battle. Kellyn Acosta is off to a hot start to the season and determined to play his way into the U.S. national team picture. He has a chance to match up with Benny Feilhaber, who is also trying to earn a regular place in Arena's plans.


MATCHUPS TO WATCH

Jelle van Damme Fanendo Adi MLS 04102016

There are mouth-watering striker-versus-center back matchups throughout the Week 2 schedule, which should make for some physical and memorable encounters. Here are the ones to keep an eye on: 

1. David Villa vs. Steve Birnbaum . The reigning MLS MVP didn't find the net in week one, but Villa returns to Yankee Stadium, where he does the most damage. Birnbaum has his sights set on a starting role in the upcoming U.S. qualifiers, and shutting down Villa would go a long way toward impressing Bruce Arena.

2. Fanendo Adi vs. Jelle van Damme . Adi started the season in style, with a pair of goals, but he will face much tougher resistance from Van Damme than he faced from Minnesota United.

3. Clint Dempsey vs. Laurent Ciman . He may not be at full strength just yet, but Dempsey is still dangerous and will likely draw the attention of Ciman, who could leave the chasing around of Jordan Morris to Victor Cabrera.

4. Matt Hedges vs. Dom Dwyer . Whether it's Hedges or Walker Zimmerman, or both, FC Dallas needs to keep close watch on Dwyer, who scored twice the last time these teams met.

5. Jozy Altidore vs. Oguchi Onyewu . Old friends and former U.S. teammates Altidore and Onyewu collide in the kind of showcase of physical strength you don't see too often in MLS. Onyewu had a good debut with the Union, but faces a much tougher test against TFC.

6. Romell Quioto vs. Harrisom Afful . Quioto was outstanding in his Dynamo debut last week, but he will find it tougher going against Afful, one of the best right backs in MLS.

7. Kekuta Manneh vs. Nick Lima . After shutting down Ignacio Piatti in his MLS debut, Lima faces another tough challenge in Manneh, in what may be the best matchup of speed in week two.

8. Benny Feilhaber vs. Kellyn Acosta. Bruce Arena will have a close eye on this midfield battle, as the winner will boost his chances of a March U.S. call-up.

9. Bradley Wright-Phillips vs. Axel Sjoberg . This battle of Best XI selections should be the highlight of one of the weekend's best matches.

10. Albert Rusnak vs. Dax McCarty . Chicago Fire fans get their first glimpse of McCarty at Toyota Park, and he faces a good matchup in the skilled Rusnak. 


WEEK 2 PREDICTIONS

Keegan Rosenberry Jozy Altidore MLS Toronto FC Union 10262017

CHICAGO FIRE 3, Real Salt Lake 1. The Fire make their home debut and find an injury-hit Real Salt Lake side that could be missing its top three central defenders due to injury. That could set up Nemanja Nikolic for a field day.

NEW YORK RED BULLS 1, Colorado Rapids 0 . Bitter cold and wind will make for unsettling conditions, but that might work in the Rapids' favor. It won't be enough though, as Sacha Klestan makes the difference.

Philadelphia Union 1, TORONTO FC 2 . The Union defense did well in Vancouver last week, but faces a familiar nemesis in Sebastian Giovinco and TFC, who are eager to find the net after a frustrating opening week.

MONTREAL IMPACT 1, Sounders 2 . The reigning champions show their quality, going to Canada and grabbing three road points on the strength of a Nicolas Lodeiro masterpiece.

Houston Dynamo 2, Crew 1 . Wilmer Cabrera's squad proves the week one win against Seattle was no fluke, as Erick 'Cubo' Torres scores again, and Alberth Ellis shines.

Sporting Kansas City 1, FC DALLAS 2 . Oscar Pareja's men end their drought at Children's Mercy Park, with Cristian Colman opening his account with a goal.

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES 1, Vancouver Whitecaps 0 . The Earthquakes make it two shutouts in a row as the Whitecaps fail to score for the second straight match.

NEW YORK CITY FC 2, D.C. United 0 . David Villa picks up where he left off at Yankee Stadium, leading the charge on a day when Maxi Moralez also shows why he was signed.

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Minnesota United 1, ATLANTA UNITED 2 . Being at home should give Adrian Heath's men a boost, but Atlanta United's attack proves to be too dynamic for the Loons to contain.

LA Galaxy 2, PORTLAND TIMBERS 2 . Two teams with dangerous attacking weapons and short-handed defense leads to a goal-fest, but shared points.

 

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