The Top 11 questions heading into the weekend...
11) Was Thursday night's 0-0 draw with New England a setback for the Timbers?
Expectations are a tricky thing. Caleb Porter is intent on elevating both the level of play and the collective mindset in PDX, and after last week's impressive defeat of Sporting Kansas City in their own house, he probably would expected his squad to find a way past the Revs at home. Yet there's something promising about New England – even as they continue to find themselves – that suggests this result will look different in a few months' time.
10) Which MLSers will haul themselves into the forefront of Jurgen Klinsmann's thinking in the coming weeks?
The US national team coach essentially handed Stuart Holden a ticket back into the program with his public remarks about the England-based midfielder this week, which underlines the extent to which Klinsmann is lining up his pieces for the USMNT's busy months ahead. He's also eyeing FC Dallas center back George John, who is one of many domestic-based Yanks who need to stand out from the crowd every chance they get this month.
9) Who, or what, will stop the bleeding in DC?
D.C. United are idle this weekend as they prepare for Houston's visit to RFK Stadium next Wednesday evening. Black-and-Red minds are racing nonetheless as they try to figure out how to stop their losing streak and mend their woeful attacking form. Winger Nick DeLeon is eager to return from his hamstring injury and provide a lift, but will coach Ben Olsen make more sweeping changes soon?
8) What role, if any, will Juninho play when the Red Bulls visit Columbus?
New York's veteran Brazilian creator is returning from a disciplinary suspension and his team is missing midfield engine Dax McCarty. Yet it remains unclear whether Juninho will see the field, thanks to the good work of Eric Alexander and Tim Cahill against Toronto last week. RBNY coach Mike Petke praised the “road mentality” the rangy duo brings, which may be preferred against the hard-working Crew on Saturday (4 pm ET, NBCSN).
7) Chelís and Dan: Is this the duo that will lead Chivas USA back to the playoffs?
The Goats visit Sporting KC on Sunday afternoon (5 pm ET, UniMas), a daunting road match they will face with a collective smile after trumpeting goalkeeper Dan Kennedy's new contract on Thursday. Charismatic coach José Luis “El Chelís” Sánchez Solá stayed true to his word – and then some – about the captain's importance to the club. It's another quiet step forward for one of the league's most unique (in every sense of the word) groups.
6) But will they run into a buzzsaw at Sporting Park?
Here's a recurring theme of MLS Week 10: How will teams respond to recent bouts of adversity? SKC just got thumped by the Timbers at home – beaten at their own game, really – and must collect themselves for a different sort of challenge with Chivas USA's arrival. These two teams lead the league in fouls committed, so Sporting's lush pitch will likely be no place for the fainthearted on Sunday.
5) Will Saturday's Quakes-Impact match be a shootout, or a grindfest?
Chalk up this afternoon affair at Buck Shaw Stadium (4 pm ET, MLS LIVE) as one of the week's more intriguing tactical duels. As they proved in their 6-0 midweek shellacking of Toronto in Amway Canadian Championship play, Montreal know how to find the net, though coach Marco Schällibaum may again dictate defensive discipline on the road. And if they do, can San Jose's workman-like 4-4-2 system find space without Steven Lenhart?
4) What's next for Seattle?
The Sounders finally earned their first league win of 2013 in their last match, then promptly entered a bye week ahead of Saturday's clash with Philadelphia – a team with several Seattle exes – at PPL Park (4 pm ET, MLS LIVE). That meant a useful bit of downtime for players and coaches but also a break in rhythm. As usual, midfield metronome Osvaldo Alonso should provide a settling influence for the visitors, but can the backline keep track of in-form Union striker Jack McInerney?
3) Who can grab the bull by the horns when TFC visit Colorado?
Dick's Sporting Goods Park will feature two clubs in two different forms of crisis on Saturday night: Toronto are reeling from that ACC beating administered by their Quebecois antagonists in Montreal, while the Rapids remain in triage mode thanks to a shocking injury epidemic that refuses to abate. At least Colorado coach Oscar Pareja can probably get one or two of his impact players back on the field for this game (9 pm ET, MLS LIVE), though it still looks like a decent occasion for TFC to rise from the canvas and make a statement.
2) Is this the week that the Whitecaps get it together away from home?
Congratulations to Vancouver on their progression past FC Edmonton in the Canadian Championship. Now for a less enjoyable message: The 'Caps haven't won an MLS match in almost two months, and remain one of the worst road teams in MLS. Now Martin Rennie's team jets to Utah for a date with Real Salt Lake (9 pm ET, MLS LIVE), who have surely been stewing in the wake of that 2-0 home humbling handed to them by a reserve-laden LA Galaxy side last time around. Oh, and it's Star Wars Day at Rio Tinto. Buckle up for what could be a wild night in the Wasatch.
1) MLS Cup rematch at the Home Depot Center: Who ya got?
The Dynamo may have unpleasant flashbacks when they enter the HDC on Sunday night (11 pm ET, ESPN2), site of their unsuccessful outings in the last two league championship matches. Knowing the battling mindset of coach Dominic Kinnear and his troops, however, they'll seize on the opportunity this game presents: a chance to knock their old antagonists down a peg on home turf, and on national television to boot.