MLS WEEK 4: What does the rematch mean?

April 15, 2010, 10:39 AM

By: Scott French

The Galaxy takes its first shot at Real Salt Lake since falling to the Utahns in last year's MLS Cup final, and that means something to some of the boys in blue and gold, sort of.

"I think when you lose in the final, you want to play that team again," said striker Edson Buddle, who has scored all five goals as the Galaxy has started off the Major League Soccer season with a 3-0-0 record. "They got what they wanted. We just want to show that we are the better team."

The Galaxy is MLS's best team after shutout victories over Colorado, Chivas USA and Houston. Opponents are finding it difficult, sometimes impossible, to creating scoring chances, and Buddle has been on fire, scoring five goals  all of them high-quality strikes  and heading into Saturday night's clash at Home Depot Center with back-to-back two-goal performances.

Real Salt Lake is part of a four-team scrum five points behind L.A., with a 1-1-1 record after rallying to tie Seattle last weekend in Sandy, Utah. Alvaro Saborio's stoppage-time goal capped a festive evening that began with RSL's players receiving championship rings earned with last November's shootout victory over the Galaxy following a 1-1 draw in Seattle.

Much is being made of the rematch, but not everybody is buying into the hype.

"It's the fourth game of our season, it's a home game, and we want to take advantage of every home game we have," veteran midfielder Chris Klein said. "It's more meaningful because we think that Salt Lake's one of the better teams in the league."

"It's no bigger," head coach Bruce Arena said, "than any of the previous games we've played. We haven't discussed (last year) at all. I think it's the next team up, and we want to win."

Said Klein: "If we win this game, we're not going to get a ring or the trophy or anything like that."

The Week 4 slate (all times PDT):

Thursday, April 16

Philadelphia (1-1-0, 3 points) at Toronto FC (0-2-0, 0), BMO Field (Toronto),
4 p.m., ESPN2/ESPN Deportes

• Sebastian Le Toux's hat trick made for a fine home debut for MLS's newest club, and so what if it was against lowly D.C. United. The Union might not be destined for the playoffs, but they could go to 2-1-0 in Toronto, which hasn't shown much under former Chivas coach Preki. TFC was without Julian de Guzman last week, but he's recovered, more or less, from the flu, and the addition of defenders Adrian Cann, a Canadian international, and Russian Maxim Usanov won't hurt. This, like every game at BMO, will be a sellout, and they've finally replaced that nasty artificial turf with real grass, so there's more reason to celebrate.

Saturday, April 17

Kansas City (2-0-0, 6) at Seattle (1-1-1, 4), Qwest Field (Seattle),
noon, MLS Direct Kick

• The Sounders ought to be 3-0-0. They manhandled Philadelphia in the league opener, outplayed New York in a 1-0 loss, then watched a 2-1 lead disappear in a draw with Real Salt Lake. The big news for K.C., the top team in the east, is that the first steel beam in its new stadium was laid this week. And that forward Sunil Chhetvi, a "star" for India's national team  India having absolutely no profile in the international game  made his debut in Tuesday's U.S. Open Cup loss to Colorado. Lawndale's Kei Kamara has scored in both Wizards wins.

Chivas USA (1-2-0, 3) at Houston (1-1-1, 4), Robertson Stadium (Houston),
1 p.m., TeleFutura (KFTR/Channel 46)/Fox Sports Net Prime Ticket

• Chivas' dormant attack came alive when Jesus Padilla came off the bench late in the first half of last weekend's win over New York, and it looks like he'll be in the starting XI this week. The Goats think they can overrun the Dynamo's midfield with a five-midfielder alignment, although they struggled the first two weeks outside the 4-4-2 formation so many of the players know and love. As many as four starters could be missing for Chivas, but Houston's in the same straits, with two ailing forwards (Brian Ching and Cam Weaver) and another serving a red-card suspension (Luis Angel Landin). Joseph Ngwenya has returned after two and a half years in Austria and Turkey, but no word yet that he'll be eligible for this one.

Chicago (0-2-1, 1) at D.C. United (0-3-0, 0), RFK Stadium (Washington),
4:30 p.m., MLS Direct Kick

• This is the Lousy Game of the Week, for sure. Chicago goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra  thrown into the Fire, so to speak, after 2008 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Jon Busch was released five days before the season opener  is taking the heat after giving up five goals in the first three games, but throw some of the blame to his defenders, especially Tim Ward after that back pass against San Jose. D.C. United is just hoping its nightmare will end.

FC Dallas (0-0-2, 2) at New York (2-1-0, 6), Red Bull Arena (Harrison, N.J.),
4:30 p.m., MLS Direct Kick

• The Western Conference is loaded, with four legitimate title contenders: the Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, Seattle and Houston. Need a sleeper? Look no further than FC Dallas. The Hoops continue to make strides under former SMU boss Schellas Hyndman, and they've won points against the Dynamo and Columbus, the best team in the East. The Red Bulls didn't show a whole lot against Chivas last week, but rookie center back Tim Ream sure impressed. The second-round draft choice from Saint Louis University "has a chance to be a national team player," New York coach Hans Backe insists. He might be right.

New England (2-1-0, 6) at San Jose (1-1-0, 3), Buck Shaw Stadium (Santa Clara, Calif.),
7 p.m., MLS Direct Kick

• Shalrie Joseph is back for the Revolution, and that means so much with Steve Ralston gone and Taylor Twellman and Matt Reis still sidelined. Rookie Zach Schilawski's hat trick against Toronto last week was huge, too,

  • but New England's wins are against two of worst, maybe the two worst, teams in the league. San Jose bounced back nicely from its opening-night loss to RSL, and signing forward Scott Sealy  he left the Quakes after the 2008 season to play in Israel  is a smart move. They've also brought in 17-year-old Gambian midfielder Omar Jasseh, who played in Chelsea's youth academy, among others.

    Real Salt Lake (1-1-1, 4) at Galaxy (3-0-0, 6), Home Depot Center (Carson),
    7:30 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel/Fox Sports en Espaņol

    • Edson Buddle is the man of the moment, after matching his total from last season with five goals in the first three games  if he keeps that pace going, he'll score 50 this year!  but the Galaxy is winning because it has been so solid defensively all over the field. L.A. is the third team in league history to start with three shutouts, and it's surrendered just three shots on goal in those three games. Houston didn't get one shot on target last week. Javier Morales scored three goals in the first two games for RSL, which started only three regulars in its U.S. Open Cup triumph Wednesday night over San Jose.

    Sunday, April 18

    Toronto FC (0-2-0, 0) at Colorado (1-1-1, 4), DSG Park (Commerce City, Colo.),
    2 p.m., MLS Direct Kick

    • If TFC doesn't beat Philly on Thursday  or, worse yet, fails to claim a point  then Preki might be in trouble following this one. The Rapids seem to be making real progress under Englishman Gary Smith, and Conor Casey/Omar Cummings  in the conversation about the league's best forward tandem  are all the better if Mehdi Ballouchy is really, finally starting to find his place in this team, this league.


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