The Forecast previews a record-setting Saturday and offers its picks for the extensive Week 3 slate.By Kyle McCarthy
Clear off your calendars, MLS fans. Tomorrow will make history.
All 16 teams will take to the field within a seven-hour period, marking the first time MLS clubs will contest eight games in a single day. Talk about a busy day for keen observers.
The Forecast welcomes the heavy fixture list after swinging and missing on last weekend's three-match weekend slate and hopes the schedule congestion will lead to a prediction payoff after the eight games conclude.
Last week: 0/3 (0%)
For the season: 3/10 (30%)
New York @ Chivas USA – 4:00p.m. (Telefutura) – Goal.com Preview
After trekking to Seattle last weekend and departing with all three points, New York makes its second cross-country trip in as many weeks to face the Red-and-White. This match looms as a potential letdown for the Red Bulls on the heels of the MLS opener of Red Bull Arena and the end of a 27-match winless streak on the road with last Saturday's 1-0 win in Seattle. In order to avoid the drop off and the jet lag, New York will have to keep true to its defensive shape – the central defensive partnership of Mike Petke and Tim Ream has excelled during the first two matches – and seek to exploit Chivas USA from counters and set pieces. As for the home side, the Red-and-White hasn't really looked the part in either of its first two matches, particularly in the attacking third. In spite of his shocking miss last Thursday, Maicon Santos might warrant a recall up front because he facilitates the attack fairly well and gives Maykel Galindo a partner who can serve as a target player. One other point worth noting: Costa Rican defender Dario Delgado could make Martin Vasquez's squad for the match after receiving his P-1 work visa on Thursday, according to ESPN Los Angeles.
D.C. United @ Philadelphia – 6:00p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel) – Goal.com Preview
Philly plays its first-ever home match at the Linc against a local rival bringing a significant fan contingent to help celebrate the occasion. The storylines don't end there with Vice President Biden in the house, Peter Nowak and Fred facing their old club and yet another trade imbroglio brewing between the two teams over the rights to Luciano Emilio. Based on the early season form from both sides, the off-the-field component may prove decidedly more interesting than the on-field fare. United keeps the ball well enough, but offers little urgency in possession and produces no end product. It isn't much better for the Union as Philly looked every bit the expansion team in its Seattle debut. Maybe the excitement will propel both teams forward or maybe Fred's return after a one-match ban will spark the Union's attack, but a relatively tame draw represents the safe call here.
Toronto FC @ New England – 7:30p.m. – Goal.com Preview
Revolution boss Steve Nicol enters this game in search of his 100th MLS victory and he hardly could have asked for a better opportunity to claim it as the out-of-sorts Reds visit after yet another week of upheaval. TFC captain Jim Brennan abruptly retired midweek, freeing up cap space for Trader Mo to wheel and deal and leaving Preki without a reliable left back for this trip to Gillette Stadium. Gabe Gala probably makes the most sense as Brennan's temporary replacement, but he doesn't exactly offer an established option. As for New England, Nicol could welcome Darrius Barnes (right hip flexor strain) and Shalrie Joseph (right hip flexor strain) back into a side that hasn't conceded in 174 minutes. The first team to score may do just enough to take this one and the Revs look likeliest to snatch the decisive goal unless new TFC captain Dwayne De Rosario can wriggle free from the home side's suffocating rearguard.
Prediction: New England win.
Colorado @ Kansas City – 8:30p.m. – Goal.com Preview
Peter Vermes' side stormed out of the gates with a 4-0 victory over D.C. United and promptly sat on the sidelines for a weekend. It remains to be seen whether the early momentum will transfer to this stretch of two matches in four days against Gary Smith's charges. Playing the Rapids at CommunityAmerica Ballpark isn't the easiest of tasks because Colorado charges Jeff Larentowicz and Pablo Mastroeni with destroying in the center of the park and restricts its attacking endeavor on the road. With the Rapids' central midfield duo likely to assert control over the proceedings, the Wizards will have to use the meager wide areas to provide Kei Kamara and Ryan Smith with plenty of opportunities to run at the Colorado fullbacks and create some space in the center of the park. A draw looks like the play here to extend Wizards' nine-match home unbeaten run (6-0-3 since Sept. 14, 2002) against the Rapids.
Los Angeles @ Houston – 8:30p.m. – Goal.com Preview
Brad Davis' double from the penalty spot bailed the Dynamo out last Thursday against Real Salt Lake, but Houston can't expect the sort of charity Jamison Olave doled out in this Western Conference final rematch. After notching zero shots on goal in the win over RSL, Houston will need Geoff Cameron to build on an active second half to propel the attack without Brian Ching (left hamstring strain) in the starting XI. Dominic Kinnear will hope Cam Weaver (right knee strain) is fit enough to feature as Ching's replacement, particularly because the out-of-shape Luis Landin looms as the other option. Los Angeles will rely on Edson Buddle (three goals) and Landon Donovan (three assists) to spark a Galaxy attack that has mustered just five shots on goal in its two games. Fortunately for Bruce Arena, the Galaxy defense - zero goals allowed through two games - remains stingy even in Gregg Berhalter's absence. Houston earns the advantage in this tight encounter because of its ability to sneak out results at Robertson Stadium and its cleverness to hand out flashlights in reference to last year's electricity-challenged playoff tilt at the Home Depot Center.
Prediction: Houston win.
Columbus @ FC Dallas – 8:30p.m. – Goal.com Preview
Interesting contrast of styles in this match with the run-and-gun home side against the cagey, wing-oriented Supporters' Shield holders. Columbus didn't quite hit top gear as it dispatched Toronto FC in its opener and the Crew will have to perform at a higher level to obtain points in Frisco. The visitors will be forced into at least one change. With Eric Brunner (concussion) sidelined, Columbus coach Robert Warzycha could slot Chad Marshall (left hamstring strain) straight into central defense after he missed the opener. FCD coach Schellas Hyndman has defensive concerns as well with Kyle Davies (fractured arm) out for the next 8-10 weeks and Ugo Ihemelu (hamstring) not back in full training. Hyndman has talked up Brek Shea as a possible substitute to plug the gap in central defense. Despite the defensive issues for both sides, this match could turn on the supply each orchestrator – Columbus' Guillermo Barros Schelotto and FCD's David Ferreira – can locate in what should be a fairly open contest.
San Jose @ Chicago – 8:30p.m. – Goal.com Preview
It didn't take long for Jon Busch to find his way back to Chicago, but the former Fire number one will make his return to Toyota Park as the Earthquakes' number two. San Jose coach Frank Yallop will have to replace the suspended Chris Leitch after his dismissal in the season-opening lashing by Real Salt Lake and MLSsoccer.com reported that rookie right back Steve Beitashour could get the nod. Fortunately for the San Jose rookie, Marco Pappa hasn't found his form on the left side yet and spent a portion of last Saturday's 2-2 draw at Colorado trying to plug the John Thorrington-sized hole in central midfield. Even though Thorrington (left quadriceps strain) will miss his third consecutive match and midfield partner Logan Pause (left knee sprain) could join him on the sidelines, the Fire should shake off their 2009 home doldrums and send the Quakes home without points.
Prediction: Chicago win.
Seattle @ Real Salt Lake – 9:00p.m. – Goal.com Preview
On the back of two solid road performances, RSL returns to Rio Tinto Stadium to face a Sounders FC side still smarting from last weekend's 1-0 home defeat to New York. Both teams face selection posers heading into the match. Seattle coach Sigi Schmid could introduce Pat Noonan to the starting lineup – perhaps on the right side of midfield in place of Roger Levesque – as the visitors attempt to add some nous in the final third (17 attempts at goal against New York without any end product), while Jason Kreis must decide whether to re-introduce Robbie Findley (a second-half substitute in the 2-1 loss in Houston last Thursday) in place of the in-form Fabian Espindola or Alvaro Saborio. Shade this one to the home side because of its current form, the morale boost provided by Kyle Beckerman's four-year contract extension on Thursday and the scintillating contributions of Javier Morales over the opening fortnight.
Prediction: Real Salt Lake win.
Kyle McCarthy writes the Monday MLS Breakdown and frequently writes opinion pieces during the week for Goal.com. He also covers the New England Revolution for the Boston Herald and MLSsoccer.com. Contact him with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter by clicking here.
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