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Sounders FC

Daily coverage of Seattle Sounders FC, MLS and world soccer.

March 18, 2011 at 10:41 AM

League preview of the weekend’s nine MLS games

MLS Logo.jpgAnother travel day post. These notes from the league office:

* * *

New York Red Bulls vs. Seattle Sounders FC, 4:30 p.m.

— The Red Bulls open their season while Sounders FC travel cross-country after hosting the league opener just four days prior in Seattle.

— The Red Bulls are unbeaten in their last seven home openers (4-0-3). Their last loss in a home opener was against the Columbus Crew on April 12, 2003.

— The two sides split the 2010 league season series. Each side recorded a 1-0 victory on the road.

— Since Sounders FC joined the league as an expansion club, the Red Bulls have not been able to defeat them at home (1-1 draw in 2009; 1-0 loss in 2010).

— The main lineup question for the Red Bulls revolves around the forward selected to partner Thierry Henry. Teen sensation Juan Agudelo (groin) and newcomer Luke Rodgers (knee) have battled recent injuries; Jamaican speedster Dane Richards has seen time up top in preseason.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Toronto FC, 3:30 p.m.

— It’s the first all-Canadian match in MLS history, with the expansion Whitecaps FC playing their inaugural MLS game.

— Two European head coaches will make their MLS debuts: Dutchman Aron Winter (Toronto FC) and Teitur Thordarson (Vancouver) from Iceland.

— The clubs have faced each other previously in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship, when Vancouver was in the USL First Division. The all-time series is at 1-1-2. Toronto FC did not score a goal in the two matches in Vancouver (0-0 in 2010; a 2-0 loss in 2009).

— Whitecaps winger and Canadian U-20 international Russell Teibert was once a member of Toronto FC’s academy before joining the Vancouver Whitecaps residency program in 2008.

D.C. United vs. Columbus Crew, 4:30 p.m.

— The Crew won both matches against United in 2010. Three days apart at RFK Stadium last September, the Crew won 1-0 in league play and captured a 2-1 win in the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup.

— U.S. international forward Charlie Davies likely will make his MLS debut. He is on loan to United from French club Sochaux and has made a remarkable recovery from a November, 2009 car accident.

— In addition to Davies, Dax McCarty, Josh Wolff and Joseph Ngwenya are some of the top new faces for the four-time MLS Cup champs.

— It’s a new-look Crew to open 2011, with MLS scoring ace Jeff Cunningham (one goal away from tying all-time record), Serbian playmaker Dejan Rusmir and Chilean defender Sebastian Miranda joining Peruvian Andres Mendoza, a late addition in 2010, in the makeover.

New York Red Bulls vs. Seattle Sounders FC, 4:30 p.m.

— The Red Bulls open their season while Sounders FC travel cross-country after hosting the league opener just four days prior in Seattle.

— The Red Bulls are unbeaten in their last seven home openers (4-0-3). Their last loss in a home opener was against the Columbus Crew on April 12, 2003.

— The two sides split the 2010 league season series. Each side recorded a 1-0 victory on the road.

— Since Sounders FC joined the league as an expansion club, the Red Bulls have not been able to defeat them at home (1-1 draw in 2009; 1-0 loss in 2010).

— The main lineup question for the Red Bulls revolves around the forward selected to partner Thierry Henry. Teen sensation Juan Agudelo (groin) and newcomer Luke Rodgers (knee) have battled recent injuries; Jamaican speedster Dane Richards has seen time up top in preseason.

FC Dallas vs. Chicago Fire, 5:30 p.m.

— MLS Cup finalists FC Dallas open the season at home against a Chicago Fire side that missed the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2010 for only the second time in club history.

— FCD won the season series in 2010, earning a 1-1 draw in Chicago before defeating the Fire 3-0 at Pizza Hut Park.

— FCD is led by reigning MLS MVP David Ferreira, who had 10 goals and 16 assists in 2010 (regular season and playoffs combined). Dallas had the third-best defense in MLS in 2010, conceding 28 goals all year.

— The Fire’s roster has been overhauled since last year. A host of new players – hailing from 12 different countries – aim to jell quickly under Coach Carlos De Los Cobos. Seven of the starting 11 players from the 2010 season opener are no longer with the club.

Houston Dynamo vs. Philadelphia Union, 5:30 p.m.

— Union earned the first road win in club history against Houston, one of just two away wins in their expansion season. Danny Mwanga’s 90th-minute goal was the difference in the 3-2 victory on May 29.

— Since the club’s founding in 2006, the Dynamo have won their home opener only once – a 5-2 thumping of Colorado in the first game in Houston.

— Goalkeeper Tally Hall, who has played just five matches in MLS, is set to replace longtime No. 1 Pat Onstad, who recently signed a short-term contract after first moving to D.C. United as goalkeeper coach.

— An important addition to the Union attack is Carlos Ruiz, who returns to MLS after two years abroad. The Guatemalan striker has 82 goals in seven MLS seasons with the LA Galaxy, FC Dallas and Toronto FC.

Colorado Rapids vs. Portland Timbers, 6 p.m. (FSC)

— The Portland Timbers make their first appearance in MLS with a trip to face the reigning MLS Cup champions in the Rapids.

— The last expansion team to win their inaugural match was Seattle Sounders FC, when they defeated the New York Red Bulls in 2009, the first expansion team since the Chicago Fire in 1998 to win their opener. Philadelphia Union dropped a 3-0 decision in Seattle in their first game last year.

— Colorado’s attack is led by one of the league’s most-feared strike partnerships. MLS Cup MVP Conor Casey (15 goals) and Omar Cummings (14 goals) were the only teammates to reach double digits in goals in 2010.

— Portland’s Kenny Cooper has scored in three of his last four MLS season openers, all with FC Dallas. Cooper’s career total of 40 MLS goals is more than the rest of his Timbers teammates combined.

Chivas USA vs. Sporting Kansas City, 7:30 p.m.

— The match is the first for Sporting Kansas City since the club rebranded from the Kansas City Wizards, which it became in 1997. The last MLS team to rebrand, the New York Red Bulls, played to a 2-2 draw with D.C. United in the first game under its new name in 2006.

— The match is also the head coaching debut for Chivas USA’s Robin Fraser. He is the third rookie head coach to debut with Chivas USA, joining Preki (2007) and Martin Vasquez (2010).

— Chivas USA were shut out on First Kick 2010 (a 1-0 loss to Colorado), their first opening day shutout since their inaugural game in their 2005 expansion season.

— The leading scorers for both teams in 2010 return this season. Kei Kamara led KC with 10 goals last year, while Chivas USA’s Justin Braun, who has spent the preseason recovering from an Achilles tendon injury, scored nine goals.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m.

— Real enters this match on three days’ rest after its crucial Tuesday night clash with Saprissa in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal, and with the road leg looming on April 5.

— The teams are meeting in First Kick for the second consecutive season. RSL defeated San Jose 3-0 behind two goals from Javier Morales in last year’s opener.

— Since returning to the league in 2008, the Earthquakes have yet to score a goal in their season opener, outscored 6-0 total in the three games. The 270-minute goal drought marks the longest First Kick streak in the league.

— San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski won the Budweiser Golden Boot with 18 goals in 2010. No one else on the Earthquakes had more than three.

Sunday, March 20

LA Galaxy vs. New England Revolution, 5 p.m. (Galavision)

— Juan Pablo Angel, the League’s most prolific scorer since his arrival in 2007, joins the Galaxy’s attack as the club’s third Designated Player. Just two of his 58 goals have come against New England.

— This is the 15th time in 16 seasons the Revolution will begin the season on the road. They also opened the 2010 season against the Galaxy in California, LA winning 1-0 on a goal by Edson Buddle.

— The Revolution conceded the most goals in MLS last season (50) – but added defenders Didier Domi, Ryan Cochrane, Franco Coria and A.J. Soares and midfield ball winner Ousmane Dabo in the offseason.

— LA’s Landon Donovan scored two goals in the club’s 2009 opener, a 2-2 draw with D.C. United – the only First Kick goals he’s scored in Galaxy colors. The Galaxy will have already opened their campaign when the Revolution visit, after their Tuesday kickoff in Seattle.

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