Expect the heaviest slate of midweek matches to date to influence the proceedings this weekend.1. Coping with fatigue as the fixtures pile up: MLS has done a decent job of mitigating most of its midweek hassles, but the calendar mandates a few Wednesday matches during the course of the season. This week – and the six matches on Wednesday – places 11 coaches (Toronto FC has a bye over the weekend) in the rather difficult spot of trying to alter their lineups accordingly. Expect a handful of changes as those managers attempt to freshen up their lineups and maintain the necessary energy levels.
2. Bicycle kick on Wednesday, day off on Saturday?: Thierry Henry doesn't like to play on turf. And he doesn't play on it very often. His status for the trip to Gillette Stadium on Saturday? Murky at best. Henry deferred comment on the situation after his man-of-the-match display in the 2-1 victory over Montreal. If he does take the field in Foxborough, Mass., then it would mark his first appearance at that particular venue.
3. Gordon, Lenhart back for San Jose, but are they really back?: Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop will have Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart available for selection ahead of Saturday's trip to Seattle. Both men will return from suspension to bolster the squad after the 2-1 victory over Toronto FC on Wednesday. The question is how and whether those bans – particularly in Lenhart's case – will impact how they influence matches going forward.
4. Time to stand up for D.C. United: Wednesday's 4-0 home defeat to Houston likely marked the nadir of United's season. They enter Saturday's trip to FC Dallas at the bottom of the league in goals conceded, goals scored and points garnered. Frisco isn't the right sort of place to go searching for salvation right now, but United must establish a firm foundation to ensure this trip does not turn into a debacle.
5. Will Houston's dominance over Sporting Kansas City continue?: This particular juncture isn't the ideal time for Sporting to travel to BBVA Compass Stadium. Throwing away two out of three matches at home isn't exactly the form befitting Eastern Conference leaders. And this Dynamo team assumed that mantle (alongside New York, of course) through Will Bruin's one-man assault on D.C. United in midweek. All of those factors do carry one caveat ahead of Sunday's match: perhaps this situation – one of low expectations, if not low pressure – offers the visitors a decent chance to exorcise their orange demons.
Last week: 4/7 (57%)
This season: 30/83 (36%)
Chicago – Philadelphia (1:30p.m., NBC Sports Network) – Goal.com preview
Overview: Both teams must compensate for suspended starters – Jeff Larentowicz for Chicago, Sheanon Williams for Philadelphia – as they buckle down in search of points. Keep a close eye on how referee Armando Villarreal (24.3 fouls/game, six red cards in 14 career appearances) manages this potentially volatile affair.
Montréal – Real Salt Lake (2:00p.m., TVA Sports) – Goal.com preview
Overview: RSL deserves ample credit for scraping out a result at New England on Wednesday. Whether this tattered group – perhaps with Nat Borchers (illness) back in the starting XI – can squeeze out a second victory on this road trip in a far more difficult environment remains decidedly up in the air.
Prediction: Montréal win.
Seattle – San Jose (4:00p.m.) – Goal.com preview
Overview: A late goal from Djimi Traore handed Sounders FC a surprising three points at Sporting Kansas City in midweek. Now Sigi Schmid's side must build upon that triumph with a professional display against a side bolstered by the return of Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart.
Prediction: Seattle win.
Vancouver – Los Angeles (7:00p.m.) – Goal.com preview
Overview: Whitecaps boss Martin Rennie must weigh his options carefully with the Canadian Championship first leg at Montréal ahead in midweek. At this point, he'll choose any path that involves a few goals and a victory of any sort.
Prediction: Vancouver win.
New England – New York (7:30p.m.) – Goal.com preview
Overview: The form of Tim Cahill allows Mike Petke to leave Thierry Henry out of his squad if he wishes. Jay Heaps' selected holding midfielder – likely Scott Caldwell, unless Clyde Simms (concussion) returns to full fitness in time to feature – must track the Australian international's runs carefully to prevent him from arriving in the right spots at the right times.
Prediction: New York win.
Columbus – Colorado (7:30p.m.) – Goal.com preview
Overview: The neutrals usually skip this sort of match, but it could provide a few talking points. Colorado must subdue Federico Higuaín – never a certainty, though the Rapids have defended well lately – in order to protect its chances of procuring a point.
Prediction: Columbus win.
FC Dallas – D.C. United (8:30p.m.) – Goal.com preview
Overview: At some point, United must conjure up a performance or two to slide this season back on track. This particular encounter – particularly with FCD's robust attacking options up front – isn't likely to serve as the turning point.
Prediction: FC Dallas win.
Portland – Chivas USA (5:00p.m., UniMas) – Goal.com preview
Overview: Poor Patrick McLain. This situation isn't a great spot for his first career MLS start in place of the suspended Dan Kennedy.
Prediction: Portland win.
Houston – Sporting Kansas City (8:00p.m.) – Goal.com preview
Overview: The home side must fight through its fatigue in order to protect its lengthy home unbeaten run. Sporting would like nothing more than to halt it, but it would settle for some incremental progress in this one-sided series.
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