Morning Aggregate: MLS Previews and Ambition in Pittsburgh


Major League Soccer kicks off its seventh week of action this weekend although not all teams have played six matches.  FC Dallas and Montreal continue to lead their respective conferences while both face heavy tests today.  For Dallas it is the competition and in Montreal it may be the competition or the weather.  Seattle is looking to build some momentum while Real Salt Lake has a full roster of injuries.  Here is a look at the action across MLS.

Montreal V Columbus

Montreal gets to play a home game at Stade Saputo and the weather is expected to be very wintry.  The impact are coming off a 2-0 loss to Sporting KC and will play a team that is unbeaten in their last three, the Columbus Crew.  The match with KC went exactly opposite of all other matches for Montreal so far this year.  It was a game of firsts as they were shut out, conceded before halftime, and allowed the first goal first.  The Crew sit at fourth place in the Eastern Conference and have won two of their three road games this season.

Philadelphia V Toronto

The Union host Toronto FC at PPL Park on Saturday with both teams coming off a draw.  Philadelphia relinquished a 1-0 lead while Toronto managed to get two goals in the final ten minutes after being stifled for 82 minutes.  These teams are separated by two points in the standings, but Philadelphia has shown a more consistent attack led by Jack McInerny.  Toronto has struggled to mount an attack on the road.

Apr 6, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Philadelphia Union forward Conor Casey (6) goes to control the ball while holding off Columbus Crew defender Glauber (4). The game ended in a 1-1 tie. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowksi-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle V New England

The Sounders were bounced from CONCACAF Champions League play this week but put up a solid effort.  Obafemi Martins is on the roster sheet for the weekend, but is still doubtful to return.  Still the effort against Santos Laguna in Mexico is something to build off ahead of this match up of last place teams.  New England won their first match of the year but lost two of the next three.  They have scored a league low one goal on the season.  The Revolution may have some emotion on their side after hearing of Kevin Alston’s leukemia diagnosis, but Seattle needs to turn it around now to keep in the playoff picture.

Vancouver V Real Salt Lake

These teams are tied with seven points apiece but Vancouver has played one fewer game than Salt Lake.  The Whitecaps have committed the most fouls in the league last year with 481 but now sit as the second-least disciplined team in MLS.  This is Vancouver’s first home game in five weeks and they will probably be without the services of Kenny Miller.  For Real Salt Lake, it is all about the injuries.  They should trot out young strikers and will have to hope that keeper Nick Rimando can keep them in the match.

D.C. United V New York Red Bulls

RFK Stadium plays host to one of the better rivalries in MLS this weekend, but some of the luster is gone as both teams are struggling to find consistency.  The Red Bulls have managed five goals on the road this season, which is tied for second in the league.  They could also have Fabian Espindola available off the bench this weekend a bit ahead of schedule.  D.C. is pulling out the marketing tricks as this is college night, which could make for a raucous crowd.  Both teams need a win desperately  so there could be some intense play in this one.

Dallas V LA

FC Dallas hosts the Galaxy Saturday evening for a match that will be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network.  The Galaxy come off their exit from CONCACAF Champions League play in which Landon Donovan started.  Mike Magee had a sore right leg but was able to play through it as a sub in the second half. Dallas is trying to rebound from letting a 2-0 lead slip away in the waning moments last week and have a chance to prove that they are for real.

Chivas V Colorado

Chivas USA hosts Colorado as they look to keep their four game unbeaten streak alive.  The rapids tasted victory for the first time this season after last week’s win over Real Salt Lake.  The Sunday match at the Home Depot Center gives Colorado the opportunity to win their fourth straight away match between the two clubs.  However, this year Chivas boasts the most potent attack in MLS with 10 goals thus far.  They will have to beat Clint Irwin, who continues to make the most of his opportunities.

Houston V Chicago

Roles were reversed last week as the Dynamo put in a poor effort and Chicago found its first victory.  However, BBVA Compass Stadium is a fortress for Houston as they continue to earn points at home.  They have a +5 goal differential at home on the early season.  The Fire have yet to score a goal on the road but did break out for three last week.

Portland V San Jose

The Sunday late game pits Portland versus San Jose on the NBC Sports Network.  The Timbers have scored four more goals than the Earthquakes thus far, but Chris Wondolowski is getting his injured teammates back slowly.  Six of the Timbers nine goals have come at home.  The crowd at JELD-WEN is sure to be loud with national television coverage with the hope that the home team can get its second win on the year for Caleb Porter.

As MLS teams continue to jockey for position, one team in the USL PRO league is full of ambition.  The Pittsburgh Riverhounds open the brand new Highmark Stadium along the river tonight versus Harrisburg at 8 pm ET.  CEO and midfielder Jason Kutney spoke about how this is much more than an opening of a new stadium.  It is a step in building a “viable home for Major League Soccer.”  The new stadium will offer a FIFA certified field, a dedicated supporter seating section, and a good selection of beers.  Even though a local woman’s football team and concerts are scheduled to share the space, the soccer lines are the permanent fixture on the field.  While most of the expansion talk has centered on New York and Orlando, the folks in Pittsburgh are trying to build a culture around a sound business plan to show that soccer can be embraced.  The match tonight will included pageantry and celebration, but it is the first showcase for the Riverhounds on the way to a larger goal.  It doesn’t hurt that they used “Paradise City” for their hype video for this evening.