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MLS Season Opener Among This Weekend’s Soccer Highlights

What to watch for in soccer this weekend

Friday:

Los Angeles Galaxy – Chicago Fire (MLS Gameweek 1):

The champions LA Galaxy play host to Chicago in the opening game of the MLS season. A deal was made in the last minute about the new collective bargaining agreement and the league will kick off as scheduled. Galaxy are looking to get a positive start to their title defending season, but how will the team do without retired Landon Donovan? Steven Gerrard will join the side in the summer after his season with Liverpool comes to a close, so it’s up to LA to make sure to put itself in a good spot before Gerrard crosses over the Atlantic. Chicago has signed two new forwards to Designated Player contracts in David Accam and Kennedy Igboanaike. Both players are coming over from Sweden where they have had great success. Accam scored 30 goals in 62 appearances for Helsingborgs IF and Igboanaike had 19 goals in 55 games for AIK.

Saturday:

Hamburger SV – Borussia Dortmund (Bundesliga Gameweek 24):

Two teams that have struggled for better part of the season will square off early on Saturday morning at the Imtech Arena in Hamburg. Borussia Dortmund, who many thought were going to be a top side once again and fight Bayern Munich for the title, currently find themselves in 10th place and 30(!) points behind Bayern. Hamburg has been a team in despair for a couple of seasons now, and they are just above the relegation line in 15th, two points ahead of Paderborn. Dortmund’s form has improved dramatically and they come into this game having won four out of the last five. HSV have two wins and one draw in their last five but is on a three-game winless streak. Hamburg won 1-0 when the teams met back in October, so Dortmund will be looking for revenge.

Vancouver Whitecaps – Toronto FC (MLS Gameweek 1):

SOCCER: FEB 28 IMG Suncoast Pro Classic - U23 Costa Rica v Toronto FC

A Canadian derby is a great way to start the season for both these clubs as they look to change the fortunes from last year and make a deep run in the playoffs. Toronto have spent a lot of money brining in Jozy Altidore from the English Premier League and Sebastian Giovinco from Serie A to bolster the offense. Both players were signed to DP contracts in addition to U.S. international Michael Bradley. Anything but the playoffs will be seen as a failure in Toronto this year. Vancouver also have a few interesting names on the roster as signed two South Americans to DP contracts. Striker Octavio Rivero, 23, joined from Chilean Champions O’Higgins where he scored 10 goals in 16 games. Pedro Morales, 29, is a Chilean international that spent last season with Malaga in La Liga.

Sunday:

Liverpool – Blackburn Rovers (FA Cup Quarterfinal):

A David versus Goliath story will take place on Sunday morning as Liverpool play host to Blackburn in the FA Cup Quarterfinal. Liverpool, a top side in the Premier League, will be the huge favorite against a Blackburn team that is in 10th in the Championship (English second tier). However, Rovers have pulled out victories against Premier League opposition in both Round 4 (3-1 win over Swansea City) and Round 5 (4-1 win over Stoke City) so they will probably fancy themselves to pull off another upset as they travel to Anfield. Liverpool needed a replay game against Bolton (2-1 on aggregate) in order to advance to the fifth round where they knocked off Crystal Palace 2-1. Striker Joshua King has three goals in four FA Cup games for Rovers and midfielder Chris Taylor has three goals in three games. Captain Steven Gerrard lead Liverpool with two goals.

Orlando City SC – New York City FC (MLS Gameweek 1):

Two new MLS franchises that have had a lot of hype surrounding them before the start of the season. Orlando with signing former FIFA World Player of the Year in Kaka, and NYCFC being owned by Manchester City and signings like David Villa and Frank Lampard. Lampard is still with Man City but will most likely join the team at the end of the Premier League season. Besides Kaka who is the obvious star in Orlando, they have a bunch of solid MLS players like Brek Shea, Donovan Ricketts and Seb Hines who is on loan from Middlesbrough.  Another exciting player on the roster is DP Striker Bryan Rochez who scored 20 goals (second most) in the Honduran league last season. NYCFC will surely look to David Villa to carry the side until Lampard’s arrival. The Spanish striker was one of the best in La Liga for a long time and has played for clubs like Valencia, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. He also has 59 goals in 97 appearances for the Spanish national team on his resume. Mix Diskerud will be the one serving up the passes and he joined NYCFC from Norwegian powerhouse Rosenberg BK. Discard has represented the U.S. national team on 27 occasions.

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