The clash for the Cascadia Cup heats up this weekend.
And with Seattle currently sitting behind both Vancouver and Portland in the race for the highly coveted silverware, manager Sigi Schmid added extra spice to the crucial battle between his Sounders side and the ‘Caps on Saturday (4pm ET, TSN2/RDS in Canada/MLS Live in US): “We need to get these points at home.”
Sounders striker Fredy Montero admits he thrives on the intense atmosphere Cascadia matches generate, with Seattle and Vancouver both locked on 37 points and occupying the final two playoff spots in the West: “That’s the game you always want to play in. You always have to score.”
Moving away from the Pacific Northwest, there was some big news to come out of Columbus yesterday, with the Crew adding DP Federico Higuaín. He's the brother of Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuaín, but also the potential next coming of former Crew great Guillermo Barros Schelotto. (VIDEO)
“Federico does a lot of things Guillermo did in his prime when he was in his late 20s,” says Crew technical director Brian Bliss.
Columbus fans should be excited. Higuaín plans to follow in Schelotto’s footsteps; “I hope to have the same success Guillermo had here.” The Crew’s new marque attacker could feature in Sunday’s clash with Houston. (9 pm ET, MLS Live)
Elsewhere, there are some huge matchups in a bumper weekend of league action.
League-leading San Jose travel cross-country for their first-ever trip to face the in-form Montreal Impact, (7:30 pm ET, MLS Live) and will be hoping to stretch their lead in the race for the Supporters’ Shield.
It’s a huge weekend for D.C. United as they welcome rivals Philadelphia in a nationally televised clash at RFK on Sunday (5 pm ET, NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com). This I-95 matchup has a twist after Thursday's trade that saw the Union’s Lionard Pajoy move to United in exchange for Danny Cruz.
Union head coach John Hackworth knows Cruz well from coaching him at the Under-17 national team level and he raves about the youngster: “Danny Cruz has proven himself in this league, so it’s not like we’re taking a risk on this one.”
Meanwhile two teams at complete opposite ends of the spectrum of late clash at Rio Tinto on Saturday night, (9 pm ET, MLS Live) with surging FC Dallas hoping to keep their winning-streak going against Jason Kreis’ struggling RSL.
Dallas beat Vancouver 2-0 midweek, to make it two wins on the bounce and they're now unbeaten in three. The key to their recent success? David Ferriera has turned on the swag.
RSL have lost three straight in all competitions and they could use some goals from striker Fabián Espíndola to get off the schneid. The Argentine has now gone 10-games without a goal … but he’s not worried: "I don't care. I will just keep working for my team, trying to improve my game and help them.”
It’s also a massive weekend for Chicago, who aim to close the gap in the congested East with a win over a despondent New England outfit (Saturday, 8:30 pm ET, MLS Live). The Fire will be without midfielder Logan Pause through injury, with Michael Videira expected to step in.
While Chicago continue their climb, the Revs are getting that sinking feeling. Five defeats in their last six reaped this honest assessment from first-year manager Jay Heaps: “I want to hold guys accountable, they want to hold me accountable and they want to hold each other accountable.”
Heaps promised plenty of changes to the lineup for Saturday’s clash.
Another team looking to make plenty of changes is Colorado, who have won just once in their last eight outings. They face Chivas USA, (Saturday, 9 pm ET, MLS Live) who are also scrapping for points after their heavy defeat to stadium rivals LA last time out.
Elsewhere, here's an insightful piece from The New York Times that looks at how successful a new MLS side in New York would be with rumors of a potential new stadium in Flushing Meadows, Queens.
On the other side of the Hudson River, the Red Bulls added a speedy winger yesterday by penning a deal for Englishman Lloyd Sam. The former Leeds United and Charlton midfielder now just needs his International Transfer Certificate and P-1 Visa if he's to debut for New York vs. Portland on Sunday (7 pm ET, Galavision).
Across the pond in England, the eagerly anticipated English Premier League season kicks off this weekend.
Robin van Persie looks set to line up in a Manchester United shirt for the first-time on Monday (3 pm ET, ESPN2) against Tim Howard’s Everton, according to Sir Alex Ferguson.
Elsewhere, Manchester City kick off the season as domestic champions for the first time in 44 years against EPL new boys Southampton on Sunday (11 am ET, Fox Soccer), while European champions Chelsea also open up their league campaign on Sunday against perennial slow starters Wigan Athletic (8:30 am ET, Fox Soccer)
Finally, the men’s college season is also fast approaching and College Soccer News released its 2012 preseason top 30. Usual suspects North Carolina, Connecticut and Maryland all adorn the top five, as the next batch of youngsters aiming to make it to MLS start off their quest for this year's College Cup.
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