Starting XI: Is Mike Magee the answer for Chicago Fire? Can San Jose Earthquakes stop the rot?
The top 11 questions heading into the weekend...
11) What will unfold behind the scenes in D.C. this weekend?
In addition to the high-profile US national team friendly against Germany (2:30 pm ET, ESPN2, UniMas), U.S. Soccer is also staging its annual general meeting in the nation's capital on Sunday morning and the night before, a downtown gala will honor many of the federation's longest-serving figures on the occasion of its 100th anniversary. Beyond the pomp, plenty of networking and maneuvering will unfold as well.
10) Which winless streak will end first: D.C. United's or Toronto FC's?
Led by former MLS Cup-winning teammates Ben Olsen and Ryan Nelsen, both these Eastern Conference clubs are mired in 10-game slides in league play that have given their fans the blues. This weekend, they face tough but beatable competition as D.C. visit the Chicago Fire (Sunday, 5 pm ET, UniMas) and TFC welcome Philadelphia to BMO Field (Saturday, 6 pm ET, TSN in Canada/MLS Live in US), though both are more likely looking inward in search of a turnaround.
9) Who replaces Eddie Gaven in Columbus?
The Crew are glad to have survived Wednesday's US Open Cup challenge from the Dayton Dutch Lions, who ousted them from the tournament around this time last year, yet the ACL injury to their talismanic wide midfielder was a very heavy price to pay. Gaven is a worker, a creator and a leader both on and off the field, and his many contributions will be missed, starting with the home match against Houston on Saturday (7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
8) Is Mike Magee the missing link in Chicago?
The Fire's match with United marks the Toyota Park debut of the Windy City side's new acquisition, a hometown boy who has already found the scoresheet in US Open Cup play. It still looks like the Men in Red need more of a back-to-goal-type presence up top, but Magee has a finisher's instincts and his chemistry with Chris Rolfe already looks promising. The 2-7-2 Fire certainly hope he helps get them moving up the table right away.
7) In which direction is San Jose's season headed?
For a while the injury bug took a toll on the Earthquakes' results, but with an Open Cup upset loss to the Charleston Battery having further rocked the ship this week, now there seems to be something deeper eating at Frank Yallop's side. They're scrambling for purchase in a very competitive Western Conference and ominously, it's just a matter of time before several of their leading contributors are lost to international play. Saturday's visit to Real Salt Lake (9:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE) is the latest test.
6) Can it get any weirder at Chivas USA?
You don't often see momentous press releases sent out at 1 am ET like the one that officially confirmed the departure of Goats coach José Luis “Chelís” Sánchez Solá after just 12 games in charge. Chivas USA have always been different from their MLS peers by design, but with a 3-7-2 record and bafflement and frustration rife among fans – and perhaps players as well – the effectiveness of this year's strategic pivot is highly debatable. The Seattle Sounders are unlikely to offer any respite on Saturday night when Chivas run out under an interim manager (10:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE)
5) How will the Sounders react to their Open Cup stunner?
Seattle have always treasured the 100-year-old tournament, having won it three times already in their short MLS existence, which makes the Tampa Bay Rowdies' third-round ambush of the Rave Green sting that much more. In the short term, they'll look to unleash their frustration on Chivas USA, but down the line it means that prized CONCACAF Champions League participation must be secured another way.
4) Can New England take the next step forward when the Galaxy hit Foxborough?
The Revolution might just be the most improved team in the league since opening day. They've brought in a new face or two, tweaked their tactics a bit and hauled themselves back to a .500 record for the first time since Week 3 as a result. They could use a signature victory, though, and the nationally-televised arrival of the two-time defending champs at Gillette Stadium provides an ideal opportunity on Sunday (4:30 pm ET, NBCSN).
3) Can the Whitecaps overcome Wednesday's gutting Amway Canadian Championship loss to Montreal?
Vancouver had it. They had the Voyageurs Cup – it would've been their first title as an MLS club – right in their grasp on Wednesday, leading the Impact 2-1 on home turf in leg two of the championship final. But they let it slip on a sloppily-defended corner kick, then spurned a couple of inviting chances to snatch a late winner. Martin Rennie and his men need to show their mettle against the East-leading New York Red Bulls Saturday (7 pm ET, MLSsoccer.com Stream of the Week).
MLS Stream of the Week: Watch New York Red Bulls vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, Saturday, 7 pm ET
2) Can Colorado unsettle league frontrunners FC Dallas at elevation?
The Rapids are another team who have weathered adversity this spring, and seem to have come out of it a stronger group, Tuesday's US Open Cup setback in Orlando notwithstanding. On Saturday the league leaders are dropping in on Dick's Sporting Goods Park (9 pm ET, MLS LIVE), the lofty venue which the Mile High Club haven't quite made a fortress yet (Colorado are 3-2-1 at home). Now would be a good time to start.
1) Will Sporting KC soak up the Impact again?
These two clubs played out a memorable tussle at Sporting Park on March 30, as SKC ended Montreal's 4-0 start to the season with a blood-and-thunder 2-0 result that left Impact coach Marco Schällibaum fuming – and suspended. Only one point separates them at the upper reaches of the standings as they enter the arena again on Saturday for what promises to be another Midwest slugfest (8:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE).