1. MLS Cup rivals meet again in Carson: In the world of unbalanced schedules, the combatants of the past two finals meet only once during the regular season. The twice-defeated Dynamo would certainly prefer this particular engagement involved a different venue (BBVA Compass Stadium) and a full squad (including the suspended Brad Davis). Los Angeles has a few quibbles at the moment as well with Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane still working their way back to full fitness, but the Galaxy will hope to repeat the success enjoyed at the Home Depot Center during the last two MLS Cups.
2. Petke faces selection dilemma as New York travels to Columbus: Juninho Pernambucano returns from his two-match ban for this trip to Crew Stadium. The question ahead of the Red Bulls boss: should he restore the veteran Brazilian midfielder to the side? He may have no choice with Dax McCarty (right quadriceps strain) still on the shelf, but he will also wonder whether his players will retain the balance struck over the past two weeks with the former Lyon man restored to central midfield.
3. Another Bash Brother steps forward in San Jose: Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop will turn to Adam Jahn to fill the void up front after Steven Lenhart earned a thoroughly warranted two-match suspension from the Disciplinary Committee in midweek. The rookie striker has contributed when called upon so far this season, but he must shoulder a greater burden now with both of the club's target men -- Lenhart and Alan Gordon -- suspended for the next two matches. If he does not, then Chris Wondolowski will find his space unduly restricted when Montréal visits on Saturday afternoon.
4. Life without Álvaro Saborío (and goals?) continues in Salt Lake City: The productive and vital target man will miss several weeks with a quadriceps injury, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. His absence leaves RSL grappling for a solution to its goalscoring concerns. Saborío operates as both a poacher in front of goal and a touchstone in the buildup. No one player on this roster can provide a direct replacement for those qualities, but Jason Kreis will hope some combination of Robbie Findley (hindered by injury), Olmes Garcia (questionable with a groin complaint), Joao Plata and Devon Sandoval can replicate that production with their collective efforts.
5. Rising from the depths to issue a response: Colorado isn't the sort of place any side wants to go after shipping six goals in midweek, but Toronto FC must head there anyways as it attempts to atone for the Canadian championship nightmare at Stade Saputo. TFC boss Ryan Nelsen faces genuine lineup concerns (fullback is a particular trouble spot at the moment) in his bid to slide his side back on the right track. Most Reds fans will probably settle for a dogged and resolute effort at the moment after watching their players succumb all too easily on Wednesday.
Last week: 2/9 (22%)
This season: 26/76 (34%)
Columbus – New York (4 p.m., NBC Sports Network) – Goal.com preview
Overview: The home side prides itself on disrupting the rhythm of its opposition. The visitors may perform a portion of the task for them on this particular afternoon.
Prediction: Columbus win.
San Jose – Montréal (4 p.m., TVA Sports) – Goal.com preview
Overview: This matchup does not suit the Earthquakes well. Montreal's ability to pack numbers inside its own half and squeeze the life out of the game could limit Chris Wondolowski's influence, and the best secondary options are currently serving suspensions. What does it mean for San Jose? The onus falls on the defense to ensure the Impact does not nick a goal on the break and compound the misery.
Philadelphia – Seattle (4 p.m.) – Goal.com preview
Overview: Consider this match a chance for Philly to respond to an unexpected defeat and for Seattle to continue its revival efforts. Expect the latter to overcome the former.
Prediction: Seattle win.
Colorado – Toronto FC (9 p.m., MLSsoccer.com) – Goal.com preview
Overview: Will Ryan Nelsen throw Matias Laba into the deep end? It might appeal at first, but the Argentine midfielder deserves a more gradual introduction. And, truth be told, this project isn't a quick fix anyways.
Prediction: Colorado win.
Overview: Both sides need to find that clinical touch in front of goal. Will one of them do so at Rio Tinto Stadium?
Prediction: Real Salt Lake win.
Overview: The lessons learned in the engaging home defeat to Portland last weekend will serve Sporting well when the Red-and-White visits Sporting Park.
Prediction: Sporting Kansas City win.
Los Angeles – Houston (11 p.m., ESPN2) – Goal.com preview
Overview: We've seen this story before. Will it have the same ending?
Prediction: Los Angeles win.
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