1. Another gem of a stadium opens in downtown Houston: BBVA Compass Stadium should fit nicely into the constellation of soccer-specific stadiums when it opens on Saturday afternoon with a visit from Dwayne De Rosario and D.C. United. The downtown location – right down the street from Minute Maid Park – dovetails nicely with the emerging model elsewhere in the league. It may have taken six years to get this glittering, 22,000-seat facility in place, but the wait to leave Robertson Stadium appears more than worth it given the end result.
2. Will the Dynamo transfer that home advantage over to the new ground?: Houston has won 50 of its 90 home games in MLS play since moving to Texas in time for the 2006 season. The old digs at the Univ. of Houston played a modest role in their success with the narrow confines suiting the Dynamo's robust style of play and the poor playing surface usually infringing upon opposing sides that wanted to offer silkier fare. The transition to BBVA Compass Stadium inserts some uncertainty into the equation, but the Dynamo's three biggest weapons – defensive organization, defiant resolve and unbearable heat during the summer – should ensure that Dominic Kinnear's side will pick up more than its fair share of points on the new home field.
3. Real Salt Lake, Seattle jostle for position at CenturyLink Field: Both managers shuffled their lineups in midweek to keep the legs fresh for this clash between Western Conference heavyweights. Expect most of the regulars to return here in a game that would offer plenty if not for the fixture congestion and the travel demands placed on both parties. Even with those factors in mind, these sides will have to assume careful spots to cancel each other out as the match progresses. Watch to see whether the fresh legs of Osvaldo Alonso (omitted in midweek against FC Dallas) help to tilt the combative midfield tussle in Seattle's favor.
4. A full house welcomes David Beckham to Montréal: The unexpected midweek setback at BMO Field (at least in the eyes of observers not named Aron Winter) will teach the Impact an important lesson with struggling Los Angeles on tap: previous form does not predict the performance on the night. A record-setting crowd – the record of 58,912 spectators set in the opener against Chicago looks destined to fall with just 5,000 seats left to sell – won't let Jesse Marsch's side slack off in this affair. If Montreal can keep the tempo high and put together a display similar to the one submitted at Sporting Kansas City last weekend, then those fans may just go home happy.
5. Eastern Conference leaders travel to Chicago in search of goals: Sporting Kansas City started the season on a tear, but the goals have dried up during the current two-match skid. Peter Vermes' side visits Toyota Park with a 207-minute barren streak in front of goal. Only Portland (231) and FC Dallas (211) are currently mired in a longer drought. The pieces are in place for Sporting to correct the issue against the Fire, but the forwards will have to start putting more of those shots on frame (only 45 out of the team's 151 attempts toward goal have hit the target so far this season) in order to rectify those concerns.
This season: 36/77 (47%)
Los Angeles @ Montréal (4:00p.m., TSN/RDS) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: Maybe that trip to the White House next week will push the Galaxy back on track.
Prediction: Montréal win.
D.C. United @ Houston (4:30p.m., NBC Sports Network) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: The lone worry for the Dynamo on this wonderful day: every single person in orange remembers how much Dwayne De Rosario loves to rise to these sorts of occasions.
Prediction: Houston win.
Vancouver @ New England (7:30p.m.) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: One goal should hand the Whitecaps a point at Gillette Stadium.
FC Dallas @ Columbus (7:30p.m.) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: If the Crew can't find a way to snatch three points against a battered team that played in Frisco on Wednesday, then matters in central Ohio have really taken a turn for the worse.
Prediction: Columbus win.
Sporting Kansas City @ Chicago (8:30p.m.) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: The wake-up call against Montréal on Saturday should hand Sporting plenty of impetus against the Fire, but Peter Vermes' side will have to press forward prudently to avoid conceding on the counter.
Prediction: Sporting Kansas City win.
Real Salt Lake @ Seattle (10:00p.m.) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: Both managers juggled in midweek to make sure the key figures would feature in this top-of-the-table clash. The home side probably edges it here in the form department with Fredy Montero and Mauro Rosales influencing games so consistently as of late.
Prediction: Seattle win.
New York @ Philadelphia (12:30p.m., ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/TSN 2) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: The massive injury crisis in Harrison has revealed no small amount of depth in the Red Bulls' squad. After three consecutive clean sheets, New York seems to have found its defensive stride. Now here comes the rub: can they sustain this progress while incorporating all of the pieces back into the mix?
Prediction: New York win.
Chivas USA @ San Jose (7:00p.m., Galavision) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: Robin Fraser may seek answers for his side's impotent and inconsistent performances, but he likely won't find them at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Prediction: San Jose win.
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