A changing of the guard is imminent. After losing 4-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium last night, Columbus will tumble from the top of the Goal.com MLS rankings.
A few of you will snicker that the Crew should have tumbled after a week one draw in Houston or a week two draw with Toronto. But as defending champions, the Crew deserved a bit of a cushion before I removed them from the pinnacle.
That cushion is now gone after a heavy defeat against Real Salt Lake. It was one of those games where the score line accurately reflected the balance of play. RSL looked incisive, creative and ambitious. Columbus did not.
With the Crew sputtering, the Forecast takes a look at those teams with a covetous eye on the weekly prize.
Seattle @ Toronto – 4:00p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel, CBC)
Sounders FC will take its first road trip to a place where most MLS teams simply don't want to play. If the first two weeks are any indication, most clubs won't want to play against the team that plays there either. Toronto FC head coach John Carver has Amado Guevara and Carl Robinson back from international duty and should throw them straight into the side. Seattle will fare better on the road than people expect because of Sigi Schmid's penchant for instilling discipline and tactical awareness in his sides, but this opening trip shouldn't yield points and won't likely lead the Sounders to the top of the Goal.com MLS rankings either.
Prediction: Toronto win.
FC Dallas @ New England – 7:30p.m.
Gillette Stadium is the last place the struggling Hoops want to visit this weekend. The Revs hold a 21-9-1 all-time advantage over FCD. Last FCD win in the series? May 20, 2006. Last win at Gillette Stadium? July 16, 2003. And this FCD side isn't nearly of the vintage of those clubs. New England boss Steve Nicol may welcome back Chris Albright and Steve Ralston (in a substitute's role) to bolster his young side. Look for the Revolution to exploit the marshmallow-soft Hoops central defense and come away with three points.
Prediction: New England win.
Houston @ D.C. United – 7:30p.m.
D.C. has deserved more than the two points they've taken over the first two weeks. They should add a point to the haul against a Dynamo team that hasn't exactly warmed up to the new season yet. United hasn't beaten Houston in the last three league meetings and isn't quite up to full strength with its roster yet. Let's just split the difference here and move onwards.
Colorado @ Los Angeles – 10:30p.m.
Second trip to the Home Depot Center in three weeks for the Rapids. Terry Cooke saved Colorado last weekend as a substitute; will he get the chance to influence the match from the start against the Galaxy? For Los Angeles, these are the types of games they need to win to harbor realistic playoff expectations. Not sure the Los Angeles defense will contain Omar Cummings (two games, two goals) and Conor Casey long enough to grab all three points. At least the Galaxy will be able to welcome U.S. national team veteran Gregg Berhalter at some point in the near future to help strengthen that rearguard.
New York @ Chicago – 3:00p.m. (Telefutura)
The Red Bulls didn't look particularly sprightly last weekend against New England, but they always stink against the Revs and half of their first-choice team wasn't available. Maybe things will improve with defensive midfielder Albert Celades now available to help fill the gaping chasm in the center of the park. Expect New York to play better than they have in the opening fortnight in this game. It won't be enough against a Fire team anxious to welcome back Gonzalo Segares and Bakary Soumare from international duty.
Prediction: Chicago win.
San Jose @ Kansas City – 3:00p.m.
Who are these Earthquakes and what have they done with the goal-shy bunch we know and love? Blame Arturo Alvarez's effervescent performance for prodding San Jose towards offensive productivity in a surprising 3-2 victory over Houston. As for the Wizards, it's time to kickstart the season. Zero points through two games against Toronto and Colorado falls well short of expectations. But when you're as injury-decimated as the Wizards are right now, it's difficult to pick up maximum points no matter the opponent. That even includes San Jose at CAB.
Columbus @ Chivas USA – 8:00p.m.
It will be interesting to see how the fatigued Crew respond to their second game in three days. Expecting a response might be too much, even after a heavy defeat in Utah. Alejandro Moreno and Frankie Hejduk spent most of the week away on World Cup qualifying duty, while Robbie Rogers looks well short of fitness. Meanwhile, Chivas USA has a rested Sacha Kljestan to pull the strings, even if the Goats are still missing a boatload of significant contributors. With the win, it could be Preki's posse that take over top spot.
Prediction: Chivas USA 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 MLSnet.com. Contact him with your questions or comments at email@example.com.