I think my any definition, today's MLS game of the week is the one in Seattle. Not only does it mark Freddie Ljungberg's return to Qwest Field, but it's an important one just through the pure playoff math implications.
However, it's a pretty busy day across the league, and here's a league-provided look at the other games:
FC Dallas at Columbus Crew, 1 p.m. (TeleFutura)In strange twist of fate, FC Dallas can set the MLS record for longest road unbeaten streak this weekend in Columbus. The Crew hold the record along with FCD, going nine road games without a loss July 10-Oct. 16, 2004.
Brek Shea has scored all five of his goals since May 15. He has broken second-half scoreless ties with the game-winning goal in each of his last three games with a goal (June 5 vs. San Jose; July 17 vs. Real Salt Lake; Aug. 21 vs. Chivas USA).Since taking over as FCD’s starting keeper on May 5, Kevin Hartman has not conceded more than one goal in any league game. The shutout vs. Chivas USA was his sixth in the 15 games since becoming the full-time starter.The Crew’s Steven Lenhart has scored four goals in the last four games – all in a substitute role. The only game in which he did not score in that stretch – Aug. 14 at Real Salt Lake – the Crew lost 2-0.
Real Salt Lake at Toronto FC, 4 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)The game is the first of three meetings in a month’s time between the clubs. They will face each other twice in three weeks – in Group A of the CONCACAF Champions League, Sept. 15 at Rio Tinto Stadium and in MLS play Sept. 28 at BMO Field.Saturday’s loss to New York snapped a 17-game home league unbeaten streak for Toronto FC, the fourth-longest in MLS history. TFC had not lost in 14 games in all competitions at BMO Field this year.Real Salt Lake had last weekend off from MLS competition, but will have played two games in the CONCACAF Champions League since their last league game, a 2-0 home win against Columbus.Javier Morales is coming off his second two-goal game of the season in league play. He scored twice in the season opener, a 3-0 victory at San Jose. Philadelphia Union at New England Revolution, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)At Kansas City, the Revolution changed to a 3-5-2 formation, due in part to the narrow confines of CommunityAmerica Ballpark. The result? A 4-1 loss, the most goals New England had allowed since a 5-0 loss at Real Salt Lake on July 2. In between, the Revs had allowed four goals in nine games overall.In seeing their winless streak extended to six games, Union were shut out for the first time since June 10.The teams are meeting for the second time inside a month. A Marko Perovic late in the second half left the teams in a 1-1 tie, July 28 at PPL Park. San Jose Earthquakes at New York Red Bulls, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)A week after admittedly giving the ball away for the lone goal in a loss to LA, Rafael Marquez scored his first MLS goal – a wickedly swerving blast from all of 30 yards.After Joe Cannon suffered a broken ankle in training during the week, Jon Busch took a freshly shaven head between the posts and recorded a 1-0 shutout vs. Los Angeles. It was Busch’s first shutout since his Earthquakes debut, a scoreless draw June 25 vs. Real Salt Lake.The Earthquakes have been involved in four consecutive 1-0 games. After losing back-to-back 1-0 games, they’ve won each of the last two games by the lone goal – each time coming from Chris Wondolowski. Earlier this year, the Colorado Rapids became the first team in MLS history to play in five consecutive 1-0 games (May 1-June 5).The Quakes’ first Designated Player, Geovanni, made his MLS debut, coming on as a 72nd-minute substitute. He was able to play after walking across the San Ysidro border crossing in southern California from Tijuana back to the United States, after getting his P-1 visa approved. Houston Dynamo at Colorado Rapids, 6:30 p.m. (FSC / FSE)Houston’s Brian Ching scored his first hat trick since April 2, 2006 – the Dynamo’s first game in club history, when he had four goals in a 5-2 win against Colorado.Ching has scored all six of his goals since returning to the Dynamo from the U.S. national team’s pre-World Cup camp.Every season since coming into the league, the Dynamo have had a 4-3 victory at Robertson Stadium. They defeated FC Dallas in 2006, Real Salt Lake in back-to-back seasons (2007, ’08) and D.C. United a year ago before the win against Chicago.The Rapids have won just once in 10 games, since a 1-0 victory against Columbus on June 5. The three goals conceded in the return match against the Crew last weekend were their season-high. Kansas City Wizards at LA Galaxy, 7:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)Birahim Diop, who was last playing for a New York-based amateur team called FDR United, scored two goals in his Kansas City debut in the win against New England.Diop went eight years between MLS appearances; he played four games for the MetroStars in 2002. The all-time MLS leader is the LA Galaxy’s Eddie Lewis, who went nine years between MLS appearances (1999-2008); New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Greg Sutton went seven years between appearances (2000-07) for third on the all-time list.The teams are meeting for the second time this season. They played to a scoreless draw April 24 at CommunityAmerica Ballpark, the only time LA was not victorious in its first eight games this season.