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Friday 9 September 2011

Foresight – MLS Round 26 Weekend

Four questions to be answered this weekend in MLS

    With the International break concluded how will teams be affected by the long break in play? Salt Lake had the shortest break – seven days – due to their rescheduled fixture against Philadelphia last Saturday. The match was moved due to Salt Lake’s progression in the CONCACAF Champions League. Most teams had at least two weeks off, while a select few – New York and DC, specifically – have not played in twenty and twenty-one days respectively.

    With the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and the passing of Bobby Rhine – a sombre anniversary and tragic loss will rest squarely in the minds of players and fans around the league - will the off-field emotional atmosphere influence the action on the pitch?

    Matches with important playoff ramifications as second-place meets fourth in each conference. Seattle hosts Salt Lake, while Kansas City welcomes Houston in the Saturday afternoon fixtures. With this year’s post-season structure increasing the importance of finishing in the top three places of each conference – thereby missing out on the preliminary round - will the chasing teams make up ground on those in the automatic places or fall further behind?

    Three matches could see form – good, bad, and ugly - carry over from previous matches. New England and Philadelphia played an intense midweek match that saw the Revolution take a 4-1 lead at PPL Park, only for Philly to claw the result back to a 4-4 draw by full time. Will New England hang their heads as they host Dallas on Saturday night? Will Philadelphia come out on fire taking confidence from how they closed out the match? There has been some bad blood between Kansas City and Houston this year. It began with a bad Roger Espinoza tackle in a feisty pre-season scrimmage; continued as Houston received two red cards in their previous league meeting in Texas for a Colin Clark-lunging challenge and a needless Brian Ching-kick out – both oddly on Aurélien Collin, who was yet to join the team when the scrimmage occurred. Will that heat return as the Dynamo take the field in Kansas City?

Los Angeles v Colorado; Seattle v Salt Lake; Kansas City v Houston; Columbus v Toronto; New York v Vancouver; Philadelphia v Portland; New England v Dallas; San Jose v Chicago; Chivas v DC.

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