Judging by current form, this weekend’s matchups will be entertaining. Kansas City and Real Salt Lake, the two best teams so far, face off, as do New York and San Jose, the two next-best teams. Los Angeles plays Portland in a competition to see which team can stop its slide down the table, and Brian Mullan will make a return to Seattle for the first time since Steve Zakuani’s injury.
Last week: 17. Toronto continues to falter in MLS, even while it puts together some decent performances in Champions League. MLS website writer Jeremiah Oshan joked on Twitter that Toronto just doesn’t care about league play because it can’t qualify for the Champions League that way. This week: vs. Chivas, Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
Last week: 18. Maybe a week off was what Philadelphia needed to get back on the right track. Columbus is a good team for the Union to be playing coming off a break, as the Crew still looks like it is in preseason at times. This will be the third time this season that Philadelphia has been on national television; it has an 0-2 record and a minus-3 goal difference under the spotlight so far. This week: vs. Columbus, Saturday at 1:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network).
Last week: 19. As the Impact earned its first-ever MLS win, it also climbedoff the foot of the rankings. It may not be completely impressive to beat Toronto, but the way Montreal played midweek at Salt Lake was valiant. RSL had reason to be nervous, having blown a home game to Chivas already, but Montreal made life difficult for Salt Lake and rode that momentum into a win against Toronto. This week: at Dallas, Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
Last week: 15. New England has shown flashes of brilliance this season, such as jumping on Portland early and destroying Los Angeles on the road, but it hasn’t been consistent enough. To their credit, the Revs have only played one game at home so far, and they have done respectably on the road. This week: vs. D.C., Saturday at 2 p.m.
Last week: 13. Columbus has been unimpressive against some unimpressive teams this year. That was before New York’s top two shredded the Crew last week. On the other side of the ball, Columbus only attempted 352 passes to New York’s 502. Ball movement is an issue with this team. This week: at Philadelphia, Saturday at 1:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network).
Last week: 14. As much of a breakout game D.C.’s offense had two games ago, the scoreless tie with Seattle was the opposite. To the Sounders’ credit, they stifled Dwayne DeRosario with their defensive play, but that’s what United has to expect this year. The offensive triangle of De Rosario, Hamdi Sahili and Maicon Santos is what opponents will be cued into. This week: at New England, Saturday at 2 p.m.
Last week: 12.Two disappointing results in a row mean Portland has to get something done at the Home Depot Center this weekend. Good teams don’t let disappointments such as Kyle Beckerman’s last-second stunner turn into a string of bad results. After a bad team performance against Chivas, Portland can get some confidence against the Galaxy by kicking them when they’re down. This week: at Los Angeles, Saturday at 8:30 p.m.
Last week: 11. After losing the first game of the Rocky Mountain Cup, Colorado faces a different but still interesting test this weekend: How will Brian Mullan react to playing in Seattle for the first time since breaking Steve Zakuani’s leg last year? This storyline only adds to the Western Conference showdown that this game represents. These teams could be in a similar spot come season’s end, and this game could end up being an early-season six-pointer. This week: at Seattle, Saturday at 2 p.m.
Last week: 6. The matchup on many people’s minds last week was upstart Kansas City against the Galaxy, which was supposed to be the team to chase this year. Kansas City passed that test emphatically. Now, the evidence exists to unequivocally state that Los Angeles is in trouble. David Beckham’s hissy fit over being taken off at halftime embodies this team’s problem; big names don’t guarantee results. This week: vs. Portland, Saturday at 8:30 p.m.
Last week: 10. Goalkeeper Joe Cannon is playing some inspired soccer in the twilight of his career. The Whitecaps looked good in their first couple of games, but then a couple of scoreless ties showed Vancouver’s weakness, similar to Cascadia rival Seattle: offensive production. The goals have to start coming. Shutouts do little good if they aren’t supported on the other end of the field. This week: No games.
Last week: 9. After an uninspired first three games, Chicago got a week off. Its opponent this weekend, Houston, also had the week off, so rustiness cannot be an excuse for the Fire. This team needs to start getting results; the two teams from which it has taken points so far are Montreal and Philadelphia. If the Fire doesn’t start winning, it will be joining those teams in the lower standings soon. This week: vs. Houston, Sunday at 5 p.m. (Galavision).
Last week: 16. Before the season, it was hard to imagine that Chivas would be the Southern Californian team with the most points. Yes, Chivas has played one more game than the Galaxy, but the Goats continue to get results. Give them credit; they’re not playing pretty soccer, but they are making it happen. This week: at Toronto, Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
Last week: 5. After a two-week break, Houston has to be ready to go this weekend. Four games remain of its massive seven-game road trip to start the season. If it can come out of that streak with just one loss, or at least a winning record, the rest of the schedule shapes up pretty nicely for the Dynamo. This week: at Chicago, Sunday at 5 p.m. (Galavision).
Last week: 7. After being on the wrong end of a stoppage-time winning goal against Kansas City, Dallas got one of its own last weekend. After snapping a three-game winless streak, Dallas has a chance to regain some more confidence against Montreal on Saturday. This week: vs. Montreal, Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
Last week: 3. The Sounders are slipping slowly down the rankings, and their problems start and end with their lack of offensive productivity. After David Estrada cooled off, Seattle hasn’t scored. Fredy Montero is having a good year as a provider, holding the ball up and distributing well, but somebody has to step into a permanent goalscoring role in Seattle. This week: vs. Colorado, Saturday at 2 p.m.
Last week: 8. San Jose has quietly made its way to the top of the Western Conference. After beating a New England team that looked like it would be bad this year, the Earthquakes won in Toronto and Seattle before beating Vancouver this past weekend. Goalkeeper Jon Busch and the defense have only given up two goals so far, to go along with Chris Wondolowski and Steven Lenhart’s productivity up top. This week: at New York, Saturday at 5 p.m.
Last week: 4. Somebody needs to tell Thierry Henry that he’s 34 years old. The man is on fire. Henry also has four assists, so the key to stopping the Red Bulls’ attack is neutralizing Henry. It’s not just that he’s scored seven goals; without three of his four assists as service, Kenny Cooper doesn’t have six goals of his own. This week: vs. San Jose, Saturday 5 p.m.
Last week: 2. Playing two games in a week can have two effects: It can make teams tired, or it can get them into a rhythm. The way RSL played against Colorado suggested the latter. The clash with Kansas City on Saturday is shaping up to be the early game of the season. Two different systems but similar styles clash — it should be a good one. This week: at Kansas City, Saturday at 6:30 p.m. (CW 30/ESPN 700)
Last week: 1. Kansas City looks unstoppable so far this year, but Los Angeles did expose some weaknesses in Sporting’s attack. When the Galaxy protected the middle and forced Sporting to play the ball on the flanks, Sporting ended up getting frustrated and playing long balls. Against any system, teams have to decide what to give up; against Kansas City, it may be the wide areas. This week: vs. Real Salt Lake, Saturday at 6:30 p.m. MDT (CW 30/ESPN 700).