New England Revolution vs. Philadelphia Union
PPL Park, Philadelphia – Saturday 4 p.m.
REF: Kevin Morrison
ARs: Randy Cook, Jose Da Silva
News: After being forced to settle for a last-second draw, the Philadelphia Union (0—1—0, 1 pt.) will have their home opener Saturday afternoon at PPL Park. New-midfield signing Maurice Edu said the Union were encouraged by last week’s performance.
“I think we started off the season on the right foot in terms of establishing how we want to play,” Edu told local reporters. “We set the tone early and made an impression early, and we also pressured the ball, moved off the ball and possessed the ball well so I thought it was a good game for us. Obviously we wish we could take three points from that game but there were a lot of positives that came from that game and we can look to build off of that game during the season.”
The Union may have forward Conor Casey available after he returned to training from a calf strain that held him out of the preseason. Right back Sheanon Williams has not trained this week and will likely be unavailable for a second straight game.
The New England Revolution (0—0—1, 0 pts.) were soundly defeated by the Houston Dynamo last week, a result that brought the promising young club down to Earth. The Revolution may have right back Andrew Farrell available after the second-year player returned to training earlier this week. Farrell is questionable but the player who replaced him last week, Kevin Alston, is out after suffering a hamstring strain in the first half of the loss to the Dynamo. Darius Barnes would start if Farrell cannot play. Midfielder Lee Nguyen missed last week’s game and is also questionable. The midfield trio of Scott Caldwell, Daigo Kobayashi and Kelyn Rowe would start again if Nguyen cannot feature.
Colorado Rapids vs. New York Red Bulls
Red Bull Arena, Harrison – Saturday 4 p.m.
REF: Alan Kelly
ARs: Caleb Mendez, Dimitar Chavdarov
News: Along with the Revolution, the New York Red Bulls (0—0—1, 0pts.) had a particularly disappointing first game on the road losing 4–1 to the Vancouver Whitecaps last weekend. The Red Bulls will have forward Thierry Henry and defender Jamison Olave available after each player sat out the opening game on turf. The other bit of good news for the Red Bulls is that Head Coach Mike Petke received a new contract after leading the team to their first competitive trophy last season.
Pablo Mastroeni will hope to have similar success this season as he enters his first game as head coach for the Colorado Rapids. Mastroeni was given the permanent position last Saturday after serving in a caretaker role for the entire preseason. The promotion makes him the 15th current coach in MLS to have had previously played in MLS.
Mastroeni does have a couple of lineup questions that need to be answered with goalkeeper Clint Irwin and midfielder Dillon Powers each racing to get fully fit. Irwin has been bothered by an injured muscle in his leg and did not train with the team on Wednesday. If he cannot start, John Berner, the Rapids’ second-round draft pick from the 2014 SuperDraft, would start his first professional game. Powers trained with the team on Wednesday but admitted afterwards that he was not fit to start after being bothered by several minor injuries. Mastroeni reaffirmed that Powers had, however, completely recovered from a concussion that sidelined him for the final month of the 2013 season.
Toronto F.C. vs. Seattle Sounders FC
CenturyLink Field, Seattle – Saturday 4:30 p.m.
REF: Ioannis Starvrides
ARs: Kyle Longville, Andrew Bigelow
News: The Seattle Sounders (1—0—0, 3pts.) came away with a win in their opener thanks to a stoppage time goal from Chad Barrett. The Sounders also made headlines this week as Head Coach Sigi Schmid had to defend the turf field at CenturyLink Field after Toronto FC Head Coach Ryan Nelson said he would have to adjust his selections since they would be playing on a “bad turf field.” The Sounders will be without left back Leo Gonzalez as he continues to rehab after offseason groin surgery so Dylan Remick will start again after a good performance in his first career start. Despite the praise Remick received, Schmid reaffirmed to Gonzalez that he would be the first-choice left back when he is fully fit.
Now we finally see what Toronto FC are about after all the hype surrounding their offseason. However, one of their new designated players will not play as forward Gilberto is still recovering from an injured hip flexor sustained in the preseason. Michael Bradley is fully fit after an injury forced him out of the US Men’s National Team camp last week.
FC Dallas vs. Sporting Kansas City
Sporting Park, Kansas City – Saturday 8:30 p.m.
REF: Abby Okulaja
ARs: Eric Weisbrod, Nikola Aleksic
News: After defeating Cruz Azul 1–0 in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals on Wednesday, Sporting Kansas City (0—0—1. 0pts.) may rotate some players in order to keep their full first team fit for the second leg in Mexico City next week. The most likely player to not start would be forward Claudio Bieler who was unlucky to not be rewarded with a goal after a tenacious performance. Dom Dwyer is likely to start. Midfielder Paulo Nagamura also may be rested. Graham Zusi was the subject of an injury rumor after he was held out of training on Friday but Zusi tweeted he was healthy and it was revealed that he had just been rested by head coach Peter Vermes and had gone off-site for a photo shoot.
Oscar Pareja’s debut as FC Dallas Head Coach was a good one as Dallas (1—0—0, 3pts.) came from behind to record a 3–2 win against the Montreal Impact at home last weekend. Midfielder Hendry Thomas will likely be available after training on Thursday, as he has recovered from an ankle injury suffered in last week’s win. Adam Moffat is also fit to start in midfield. Goalkeeper Raul Fernandez is showing improvement in his recovery from a hip injury but will likely miss a second week as Pareja will be patient with his fitness, Chris Seitz will start in goal. The same logic applies for right back Zach Loyd, although Loyd trained all week and may be available although Kellyn Acosta’s good form does not make right back a concern.
Montreal Impact vs. Houston Dynamo
BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston – Saturday 8:30 p.m.
REF: Yader Reyes
ARs: Stefan McHardy, Luis Guardia
News: The Houston Dynamo (1—0—0, 3pts) impressed and stunned many observers making quick work of the New England Revolution last week in a 4–0 win. The Dynamo host the Impact in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Wildcard game that they won 3–0 at home. They only have one injury concern and that is right-winger Tony Cascio. Cascio had an impressive debut after joining the team on-loan from the Colorado Rapids but was forced off with a twisted knee. Head Coach Dominic Kinnear said Cascio’s injury is minor but Kinnear kept Cascio out of training earlier this week. If Cascio cannot play, Kinnear can move Boniek Garcia back to the right side and slot in either Servando Carrasco or Warren Creavalle in the midfield but Carrasco and Creavalle are both recovering from their respective injuries. The other option Kinnear has is to start Andrew Driver in a like-for-like replacement.
The Impact (0—0—1, 0pts) gave a good account of themselves in their 3–2 loss to FC Dallas but they will continue to be without forwards Marco Di Vaio and Andres Romero after each were suspended for their part in a stoppage time brawl in second half stoppage time of that Wildcard Game. Defender Nelson Rivas was served his one-game suspension but will be unavailable as he recovers from a hamstring injury. There is good news for the Impact as midfielder Patrice Bernier and defender Heath Pearce each played the full 90 for the Impact in a reserve game last Sunday and should be available for Head Coach Frank Klopas.
Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes
Buck Shaw Stadium, San Jose – Saturday 10:30 p.m.
REF: Jorge Luna Hernandez
ARs: Eugene Mednikov, Pedro Trejo
News: The San Jose Earthquakes will open their MLS season buoyed by the fact they were able to come away from the first leg of their Champions League Quarterfinal tie against Toluca with a goal to salvage a 1–1 result even if it means heading to Mexico knowing they must score to progress. Center back Clarence Goodson missed the first leg due to yellow card accumulation and will be one known change to the team from midweek. Head Coach Mark Watson did not disclose if he would be making any other changes but look for newly acquired winger Yannick Djalo, on loan from Benfica, to possibly feature in what will likely be a slightly rotated lineup. The Earthquakes also signed former Real Salt Lake midfielder Khari Stephenson and RSL’s first-round pick from this year’s draft, Ryan Neil, after RSL released him.
Real Salt Lake (1—0—0, 3pts.) can credit Nick Rimando for helping them take all three points against the LA Galaxy last week. Rimando, for his effort, won MLS Goalkeeper of the Week. However, he will have the same temporary center back pairing in front of him as Chris Schuler will likely not travel to San Jose as he continues to recover from offseason foot surgery. Aaron Maund and Nat Borchers will likely feature again in defense.
Chicago Fire vs. Portland Timbers
Providence Field, Portland – Sunday 3 p.m.
REF: Marcos De Oliveira
ARs: Israel Fernandez, Brandon Major
News: The Portland Timbers (0—1—0, 1pt) were able to salvage a draw at home against the Philadelphia Union last Saturday but came away largely unsatisfied with their performance. The Timbers gave midfielder Will Johnson a new four-year contract in midweek but will likely be without Pa Modou Kah after the center back left last week’s game with an injury. Mamadou Danso would replace him in the starting lineup.
The Chicago Fire (0—0—1, 0pts) were left frustrated after rallying from two goals against Chivas USA last week only to see the hosts snatch the points with a late goal. The point left on the table will hurt for the Fire who have a considerably tougher task traveling to Portland where no Eastern Conference team has won in almost a full year. The task gets more difficult with the news that forward Mike Magee will likely not start as he recovers from a hamstring injury. Additionally, Chris Rolfe and Dilly Duka are doubtful after each suffering injuries in last week’s defeat.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Chivas USA
StubHub Center, Carson – Sunday 7 p.m.
REF: Ramon Hernandez
ARs: Nestor Chavez, Matthew Miscannon
News: Chivas USA (1—0—0, 3pts.) were delighted to start off their final season with a win. While its significance may be questionable, the win is positive news for the struggling club. There are no known injuries for Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera to deal with and no suspensions as well.
The Vancouver Whitecaps (1—0—0, 3pts) impressed observers with their 4–1 win against the New York Red Bulls. Their new attacking players, Pedro Morales and Sebastian Fernandez, each scored Goal of the Week-worthy goals in the win. However; Morales or Nicolas Mezquida may replace Fernandez in the starting lineup as Fernandez continues to recover from a foot injury suffered in the preseason. Head Coach Carl Robinson suggested Morales would start after an impressive showing coming off the bench. Robinson will likely be without third-choice center back Johnny Leveron after Leveron suffered a concussion in training on Monday.
Click on Christian’s name above to follow him on Twitter