1. Defenders deserve Designated Player love, too?: Omar Gonzalez spurned several offers from overseas to sign a new deal with Los Angeles on Thursday. Gonzalez ascended into the Designated Player ranks with his new pact and made history as the first defender to earn the tag. It is a big move for both Gonzalez (he received the deal he wanted without venturing far from home) and the Galaxy (settled in defense for the foreseeable future). It may not fall into the same category for the league as a whole, though, given the unique circumstances in play here (a U.S. national team starter with an established record of excellence heading into the last few months of his contract) and the general reluctance to reward defenders with this sort of coin.
2. Weighing the potential fallout in Carson: The prospect of retaining Gonzalez adds yet another layer of intrigue to the conversations surrounding Landon Donovan's Galaxy future at the moment. Donovan is out of contract at the end of the year. Los Angeles has stated its desire to keep him on several occasions. But the specifics now – another DP deal would leave the Galaxy with no room to import a headline-catching option next year and Donovan's asking price increased substantially when Clint Dempsey ($5 million in guaranteed compensation, per MLS Players Union documents, though the number is in some question at the moment) signed his lucrative deal – make this set of negotiations particularly tricky for all involved parties. Gonzalez's return allows the Galaxy to take a harder line with Donovan (and the club might just want to do so after his close season excursions) and walk away in search of a high-priced foreign acquisition if too many complications arise.
3. Jorge Vergara continues to command headlines: The Mexican tycoon revealed perhaps a bit more than he should have about his club and its future in an interview published by Hoy (Los Angeles) on Friday morning. Vergara noted MLS could not sell the club without his permission even though it held an interest in doing so, ruled out changing the name of the club and underscored an alleged commitment to diversity within his ranks. The compelling interview offered plenty of insight, but the content may irk league officials and reinforce the notion that Vergara isn't a team player in a league where most business is conducted behind closed doors.
4. New England juggles its wealth of strikers: Juan Agudelo and Charlie Davies could both feature at some stage when the Revolution hosts Chicago on Saturday night. Agudelo has not played since suffering a knee injury in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal tie against D.C. United in late July, but he could play from the start against the playoff-chasing Fire after progressing through the week without incurring any further setbacks.
Davies linked up with his new teammates this week after sealing a loan move from Randers FC on Friday. He may have to settle for a spot on the bench as he adjusts to his new surroundings and works on his fitness.
5. Toronto FC finally lands Max Urruti: TFC announced the arrival of the Newell's Old Boys forward on Friday after months of links and rumors surrounding his arrival. Urruti cannot fix the Reds' rampant problems by himself, but he can at least take the remainder of the season to settle into the club and warm up to the gargantuan task ahead next season.
Last Forecast: 6/9 (67%)
This season: 83/191 (43%)
Montréal – D.C. United (7:00p.m., TSN2/RDS) – Goal.com preview
Overview: Expect Marco Schällibaum to play his starters in this match even with a CONCACAF Champions League match on the horizon in midweek. Montréal simply cannot afford to drop points in this match given its wobbly league form.
Prediction: Montreal win.
New England – Chicago (7:30p.m.) – Goal.com preview
Overview: Both teams enter this match with plenty of moving parts to slide into place. The key battle here looms on the flanks, though. New England must find a way to limit the Fire out wide and then provide genuine width going forward.
Columbus – Toronto FC (7:30p.m., Sportsnet ONE) – Goal.com preview
Overview: These affairs always carry additional complications, but the Crew must find a way to build on its victory against New York last weekend in order to bolster its playoff push.
Prediction: Columbus win.
New York – Philadelphia (8:00p.m., NBC Sports Network) – Goal.com preview
Overview: The likely return of Thierry Henry (and Mike Petke, for that matter) should cure the ills from Crew Stadium last weekend.
Prediction: New York win.
Colorado – Vancouver (9:00p.m.) – Goal.com preview
Overview: Gabriel Torres could make his first Rapids start in this critical match for both clubs. With the Western Conference playoff race finely poised, the home side cannot afford to concede more ground after the draw at Chivas USA on Sunday.
Prediction: Colorado win.
Houston – Seattle (9:00p.m.) – Goal.com preview
Overview: Clint Dempsey could make his first Sounders FC start at BBVA Compass Stadium as the visitors attempt to climb up the table.
Los Angeles – Real Salt Lake (10:30p.m.) – Goal.com preview
Overview: What sort of effect will Donovan's harsh words in the wake of the draw in Frisco last weekend exert on this affair?
Prediction: Los Angeles win.
Portland – FC Dallas (11:00p.m.) – Goal.com preview
Overview: FCD simply isn't playing well enough to grab a result at JELD-WEN Field right now.
Prediction: Portland win.
San Jose – Sporting Kansas City (11:00p.m., Univision Deportes) – Goal.com preview
Overview: Sporting could use Graham Zusi (quad) for this trip to Buck Shaw Stadium, but the visitors will travel here in the proper mindset to wring something out of the game.
Prediction: Sporting Kansas City win.