Three Big Storylines:
- The Cascadia Cup takes center stage in MLS this weekend with the Portland Timbers taking their perfect three draws from three matches record up I-5, hopefully avoiding the weekend traffic snarls in Seattle, to Vancouver. The Whitecaps lost their opener at home to Toronto then went on the road and earned wins in Chicago (the Fire are not that good) and Orlando with an impressive stoppage time winner. This should be a real test to see if Portland is truly going to be more pragmatic and play the bunker and counter style or if they are going to attempt to come forward letting Vancouver's speedy attack run at an unsettled Timber's backline. Vancouver's Octavio Rivero is tied with Clint Dempsey and Blas Perez for the league lead in goals scored with three.
- MLS has chosen to play through the FIFA break with a full slate of ten games. This is going to be a talking point in every match as 58 of the possible 560 players are listed on MLS's own website as being out on international duty. Besides MLS games this weekend, there are a multitude of European Championship Qualifiers, early rounds of World Cup qualifying and International friendlies available for viewing this weekend. It's worth pointing out that Week 2, Week 3 and Week 5 all have four MLS teams on bye while this week has no teams on bye and encompasses the FIFA window. The MLS scheduling office has made some curious early season choices, it is definitely going to be a storyline in every game you watch this weekend.
- Real Salt Lake hosts Toronto FC on Sunday on Fox Sports 1. While some international players will be missing, this game is still interesting just for the focus on the internationals that are still in the lineup. Particularly Toronto's Sebastian Giovinco versus RSL's Kyle Beckerman. Giovinco has enjoyed a strong start to his MLS career and will be given free reign to run Toronto's offense with Michael Bradly and Jozy Altidore missing. Giovinco likes to set up shop right in the attacking zone that Kyle Beckerman has occupied for RSL since 2007. This should be a fascinating matchup to watch.
From a Sounders Point of View:
The Sounders would very much like the current Supporter's Shield leaders, FC Dallas, to drop points this weekend. With that match thoroughly covered by this site, the next game to watch is the LA Galaxy travelling to DC United. DC United started the season well with an easy 1-0 home win over Montreal then week 2 saw a bye. Week 3 saw DC United travel to Red Bull Arena and be thoroughly outplayed by the home team in a 2-0 loss. How DC United respond to an LA Galaxy team without Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes leading the attack will be interesting. Sounders fans are hoping that DC United can bounce back and earn all three points.
The other match of note from a Sounders point of view is the Cascadia Cup opener in Vancouver. Two points net is better than three points for one team, Sounders fans are cheering for Portland to earn their fourth draw in a row to open the season.
Lastly, New England host San Jose. Being as these are the only two teams the Sounders have played so far, this match will be worth watching to get some perspective as to how good each of these teams might actually be in the early season.
National TV Games:
Philadelphia Union at Chicago Fire
Sunday, 2 PM Pacific, ESPN2
Toronto FC at Real Salt Lake
Sunday 4 PM Pacific, Fox Sports 1
Fox Sports GO
Portland Timbers at Vancouver Whitecaps
Saturday 5 PM Pacific, Root Sports Northwest (Washington and Oregon only, maybe Idaho and/or Montana.)
Mexico v Ecuador
Los Angeles Coliseum
Saturday, 6:30 PM Pacific, ESPN2