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Saturday 17 March 2012

Foresight – MLS Round 2 Weekend Preview

    Four questions to be answered in this the second weekend of MLS action.

Coming off impressive performances in their home openers, how will the two sophomore clubs – who struggled in their journeys last season - fair when they hit the road for the first time in 2012?

    Vancouver – who travel down the coast to take on the struggling Chivas USA in Los Angeles - were an abysmal 0-12-5 on the road in their inaugural campaign, while Portland – who must fly inland to Texas where they will meet FC Dallas - were a woeful 2-9-6.

    Each side is coming off an important two-goal victory at home, over Montreal and Philadelphia respectively, claiming full points in their only meetings with an eastern cousin. But if either is to stand a chance to make the playoffs, as their fan base’s desire, then they must grab points against in-conference rivals, particularly on the road. This is a great chance to make a statement of intent for the rest of the season.

With upwards of 60 000 expected in Montreal (including yours truly) will any of the other home-openers this weekend compare with the gala affair in the venerable old elephant that is the Stade Olympique?

    Slightly overshadowed by Montreal, Salt Lake, Kansas City, Seattle, and Philadelphia all have their home-openers this weekend. Four of the better atmosphere in the league will go tete-a-tete with the grand opening of MLS’ nineteenth club.

    Salt Lake’s new anthem; KC’s second year with the Blue Hell; Seattle’s Rave Green hordes desperate to put Wednesday night behind them; Philly’s SOBs eager for Nowak to be prove right (or not) in his offseason tinkering .

    Will the Montreal fans be sent home happy, clamouring for more?  What can the others do to steal the spotlight away?

It was an emotional and trying week in the CONCACAF Champions League for MLS. What will this weekend bring for the three participants, experiencing very different emotions – pride, embarrassment, and astonishment?

    Toronto and Seattle must now put the highs and lows of Wednesday night behind them and focus on the long race that is the MLS season. Can Toronto continue to build on the good form that saw them advance and take the full points against a Seattle side still reeling from their demolition?

    And what of LA - beaten at the hands of Salt Lake on the weekend and by those of Toronto midweek. Can the defending champs jumpstart their season against DC or will the tumble continue?

A personal concern for this last one… What will tomorrow bring?

    Up at 5 am; bus leaves at 6:30; arrive at 12:15 pm; kickoff at 2; a couple hours to kill on St. Paddy’s Day before busing back out at 9 pm and returning to Toronto at 3 am. Will I stay awake? Will I get lost? What does 55 000 people sound like? Will I be able to watch the TFC match, streaming from my phone on the bus? How long does a battery last anyways?

    Enjoy the second round of matches, should be a memorable one.

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

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