Photo by Stephen Brashear/ISIphotos.com
There won't be any silverware on the line this time around, but this weekend's clash between the Seattle Sounders and Chicago Fire is sure to be a tense affair all the same.
After the Sounders claimed their third straight U.S. Open Cup title over the self-proclaimed "Kings of the Cup" from Chicago in October, the Fire will look to exact some revenge Saturday when Seattle travels to Toyota Park. It should be a tough test for the Sounders, who are only playing their second road game this season.
Elsewhere, D.C. United will look to make it two wins in a row for the first time in nearly three years with a triumph over the defending Eastern Conference champion Houston Dynamo. And the past two Western Conference champions will meet when the Los Angeles Galaxy host FC Dallas.
Here is a rundown of the full Week 8 slate:
MONTREAL IMPACT vs. PORTLAND TIMBERS (Saturday, 2 p.m., Direct Kick)
Although the Impact boast a less-than-stellar 1-5-2 record, Montreal actually has a win and a draw in its only two home games thus far. The club returns to Olympic Stadium for this one, hoping to enjoy some home cooking against another recent expansion side.
The Timbers, meanwhile, ended their four-game losing streak with a triumph last weekend over previously perfect Sporting Kansas City. With Portland's Kris Boyd and Montreal's Bernardo Corradi, this fixture will feature two poachers who are new to the league but have already made their mark.
NEW YORK RED BULLS vs. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., NBC Sports)
A week after New York's embattled back line was carved to pieces by D.C. United, the Red Bulls should be without two more key defenders: Stephen Keel (back) and Jan Gunnar Solli (toe).
With Wilman Conde, Roy Miller and Rafa Marquez already out, that means New York could start a back line of Connor Lade, Tyler Ruthven, Markus Holgersson and Brandon Barklage. It goes without saying that New England strikers Jose Moreno and Saer Sene are licking their chops.
PHILADELPHIA UNION vs. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (Saturday, 7 p.m., Direct Kick)
The first-place Earthquakes could have their hands full this weekend when they travel to PPL Park to take on a surging Union squad that is unbeaten in three since opening the season with three straight losses.
Philadelphia, however, will be short-handed, with Gabriel Farfan and Keon Daniel serving red card suspensions, and coach Peter Nowak banned from the touch line for his role in the fracas that followed Farfan's ejection last week against Chivas USA.
D.C. UNITED vs. HOUSTON DYNAMO (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Direct Kick)
For the second week in a row, D.C. United will have an opportunity at home to make it two wins in a row for the first time since the summer of 2009. But the Dynamo present a tough challenge, especially considering their set-piece proficiency and United's past struggles defending such opportunities.
In that regard, the return of Brad Davis and his lethal left foot from injury should make the Dynamo all the more imposing. But Houston will still be without suspended right winger Colin Clark.
COLUMBUS CREW vs. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Direct Kick)
Winless in three, the Crew could sure use three points at home against the Whitecaps, who were mired in a four-game winless stretch of their own before defeating FC Dallas last weekend.
After Vancouver coach Martin Rennie experimented with a three-man front line of Omar Salgado, Camilo and Sebastien Le Toux against Dallas, it'll be interesting to see what lineup he goes with Saturday.
CHICAGO FIRE vs. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (Saturday, 8:30 p.m., Direct Kick)
Seattle is slowly but surely returning to health, with Eddie Johnson near full fitness and Mauro Rosales poised to make his return this weekend from a knee sprain. That could mean a spot on the bench for David Estrada.
Chicago, on the other hand, could debut the recently re-acquired Chris Rolfe after the midfielder-forward missed last weekend's win over Toronto with an ankle injury suffered in training.
REAL SALT LAKE vs. TORONTO FC (Saturday, 9 p.m., Direct Kick)
After going 0-2-1 on an imposing road trip comprised of visits to Kansas City, San Jose and Dallas, Salt Lake will return to the comforts of Rio Tinto Stadium for a clash against the league's worst team, 0-6 Toronto.
Although Salt Lake did play a midweek match against Dallas, suspensions served by centerback Jamison Olave and forward Fabian Espindola mean those players, at least, should be fresh for this weekend.
COLORADO RAPIDS vs. CHIVAS USA (Saturday, 9 p.m., Direct Kick)
After dropping their fourth-consecutive 1-0 game at home, Chivas again take to the road, where they remarkably are 3-0 this season. And the likely return of striker Juan Pablo Angel to the starting lineup presents even more reason for optimism.
Although new Brazilian forward Edu hasn't officially been added to the roster yet, the Rapids will get striker Conor Casey back from a long-term Achilles injury in this one, though he likely will be limited to a cameo appearance.
LOS ANGELES GALAXY vs. FC DALLAS (Saturday, 10:30 p.m., Direct Kick)
A rematch of the 2010 Western Conference final, won 3-0 by Dallas the Home Depot Center, this contest features a Galaxy side that has won two in a row against a Dallas team coming off a midweek tie against Salt Lake.
Los Angeles' win over Colorado last weekend marked the debut of the A.J. DeLaGarza-David Junior Lopes centerback pairing for the Galaxy, and that duo should get another chance to gel against Dallas.