In the midst of a tumultuous week off-the-field, Chivas USA fired its beleaguered manager to address the pervasive concerns between the lines.
2. Hola, José Luis Real … in a few days: Chivas USA investor/operator Jorge Vergara dispatched the C.D. Guadalajara sporting development director to southern California to take charge of the sputtering side. Real boasts a reasonable amount of experience as a first-team manager – he navigated Chivas to the final of the Copa Libertadores in 2011 – in addition to his vast knowledge of the youth ranks. He will attempt to cultivate talent and produce better results when he links up with the club on Monday. His delayed arrival means youth academy director of soccer Sacha van der Most will assume control during the Red-and-White's home match against Seattle on Saturday.
3. Midweek toil leaves some managers with difficult selection choices: The burden of Canadian Championship and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matches on Tuesday and Wednesday forced managers to weigh their priorities before submitting their lineups. Some teams – Montréal and Vancouver, in particular – may have to compensate for the emphasis placed on their cup commitments by adjusting their sides accordingly. Other outfits – most of the American sides in the Open Cup, for example – will operate essentially as normal after fielding weakened starting XIs in the external competitions.
4. Columbus starts life without Eddie Gaven: The midfield lynchpin will miss the remainder of the 2013 season after sustaining a torn left ACL in the Crew's 2-1 victory over PDL side Dayton Dutch Lions on Wednesday night, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Gaven did not hit his usual, Best XI-candidate heights this season, but the lack of his earnest toil and steady contributions in midfield will place the Crew in a difficult spot nonetheless. Crew boss Robert Warzycha does not have a direct replacement capable of replicating Gaven's industry or passing range. It might take the Crew a bit of time – certainly more than the day or two allotted before Houston's arrival on Saturday – to figure out how to adjust to his absence.
5. San Jose searches for defenders: Earthquakes boss Frank Yallop can count on Jason Hernandez for the trip to Real Salt Lake on Saturday night. He still needs another center back to fill out the back four with Nana Attakora (concussion), Victor Bernárdez (suspended) and Ty Harden (hip surgery) all ruled out, though. Yallop shunted midfielder Brad Ring into the vacancy for the Open Cup defeat at Charleston in midweek, but he could turn to regular left back Justin Morrow as a makeshift (and eminently capable, as he showed in his displays there last year) option instead. All of the shuffling will leave the Earthquakes hard pressed to establish the defensive cohesiveness required to escape from Rio Tinto Stadium with a result.
Last week: 6/9 (67%)
This season: 46/110 (42%)
Toronto FC – Philadelphia (6:00p.m., TSN) – Goal.com preview
Overview: Don't expect Danny Califf to take the field in this match for either side, though the Union could certainly use another defensive option after shipping five goals in Montréal last weekend. And don't expect TFC to turn the tide in this affair with Jack McInerney poised to pounce on any defensive lapses.
Prediction: Philadelphia win.
New York – Vancouver (7:00p.m.) – Goal.com preview
Overview: Whitecaps boss Martin Rennie said he isn't worried about his job status after losing the Canadian Championship to Montréal on away goals in midweek. He would help his cause a great deal with a surprising victory at Red Bull Arena. Whether his players are capable of snatching the points without suspended captain Nigel Reo-Coker presents another issue entirely.
Prediction: New York win.
Columbus – Houston (7:30p.m.) – Goal.com preview
Overview: Gaven's absence deals the Crew a significant blow, but it won't necessarily alter the outcome of this affair. Houston must compensate for the absence of Brad Davis by asking others to ensure the supply lines to Giles Barnes and Will Bruin remain open.
Sporting Kansas City – Montréal (8:30p.m., TVA Sports) – Goal.com preview
Overview: Will Sporting possess the patience and the quality to break through the Impact without Graham Zusi available to pull the strings?
Prediction: Yes. Sporting Kansas City win.
Colorado – FC Dallas (9:00p.m.) – Goal.com preview
Overview: FCD used a strong side in midweek to ensure a place in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup fourth round. Could the decision to play several regulars in that game take a toll in the final quarter of an hour in Commerce City?
Real Salt Lake – San Jose (9:30p.m.) – Goal.com preview
Overview: RSL must blunt the Earthquakes' direct approach and take advantage of the visitors' defensive uncertainty in order to secure the points.
Prediction: Real Salt Lake win.
Chivas USA – Seattle (10:30p.m.) – Goal.com preview
Overview: The added variable of an interim boss injects some uncertainty into the proceedings, but the Sounders will still expect to claim the points after two humbling defeats in the past week.
Prediction: Seattle win.
New England – Los Angeles (4:30p.m., NBC Sports Network) – Goal.com preview
Overview: Both teams enter in decent form. The home side comes into this game with two wins on the trot, and the Galaxy eviscerated the unsuspecting Sounders at the Home Depot Center on Sunday. If the Revs can keep the tempo high, they could secure a third win in a row.
Prediction: New England win.
Chicago – D.C. United (5:00p.m., UniMas) – Goal.com preview
Overview: United could join the Fire on eight points with a victory at Toyota Park. Perhaps Chicago should take remedial steps to ensure that indignity does not occur.
Prediction: Chicago win.