MLS 2013, Week 1 preview and fixtures: Let's get the party started

George Frey

The MLS offseason is over and finally, we get some real matches to talk about. Take that, allocation.

MLS is back, and so is the brooding disdain for anywhere between 16 and 19 of the teams in the league.

It is a very different league than the one we left in December. Davis Beckham, Fredy Montero, Andy Najar, Brek Shea, Carlos Valdes, Roger Espinoza and Kei Kamara are all gone. So is Landon Donovan, who believes (correctly) that Cambodia is a much nicer place during the MLS preseason than Tucson and if that runs into the season, so be it.

But for all the changes in the league since last season, there are a couple constants: no new teams and no new stadiums. It is the first time since 2005 that there is no expansion teams and the stadium building boom is on hold. Fear not, New York 2 is still in the works (something Don Garber has shared once or twice with a few thousand of his closest friends) and the Quakes will have their stadium in 2014.

Oh, and those zero to three teams that are not abhorrant are just hilarious.

MLS is back!

Philadelphia Union vs. Sporting Kansas City

Saturday, 4 p.m. ET - MLS LIve

A full house will welcome the Union to 2012. Unfortunately for them, Peter Nowak is still looming over PPL Park laughing at his fiery wreckage.

Pick: Kansas City, 2-1.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Toronto FC

Saturday, 6:30 p.m. ET - MLS Live

Congratulations to TFC, who have impersonated a professional soccer club for seven years now.

Pick: Not Toronto, 1-0.

Houston Dynamo vs. D.C. United

Saturday, 8 p.m. ET - NBC Sports Network

Hey, Dominic Kinnear, you made it to your second consecutive MLS Cup so what are you going to do this offseason? Add Omar Cummings, Andrew Driver and Eric Brunner? Hot damn.

Pick: Houston, 2-0.

FC Dallas vs. Colorado Rapids

Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET - MLS Live

These two teams met in MLS Cup three years ago. Seriously.

Pick: Draw, 1-1.

Seattle Sounders vs. Montreal Impact

Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET - MLS Live

Did you know the Sounders get 40,000 fans at each match? Because they get 40,000 fans at each match. 40,000 fans will win on Saturday. 11 players might also make an appearance.

Pick: Seattle, 1-0.

Chivas USA vs. Columbus Crew

Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET - MLS Live

The car crash of MLS that you just can't look away from.

Pick: Columbus, 3-1.

LA Galaxy vs. Chicago Fire

Sunday, 5 p.m. ET - UniMas

If David Beckham was still in LA he would have 14 altercations with the referee and kick out at three Fire players in 90 minutes against Jeff Larentowicz, Austin Berry, Joel Lindpere and Logan Pause. Miss you, Becks?

Pick: Chicago, 1-0.

Portland Timbers vs. New York Red Bulls

Sunday, 7:30 p.m. ET - ESPN2

Important notes about this match: no Rafa Marquez; Caleb Porter's debut; no Rafa Marquez; it's Darlington Nagbe's time to shine; no Rafa Marquez; Thierry Henry on turf; no Rafa Marquez; sup Diego Valeri; no Rafa Marquez; David Horst can't mark everyone; no Rafa Marquez.

Pick: Draw, 2-2.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Real Salt Lake

Sunday, 10 p.m. ET - MLS Live

If anyone can match the Quakes' guts it is Garth Lagerwey, who tore apart one of the best teams in MLS and rebuilt them all in one offseason.

Of note: They didn't make a Goonies 2.

Pick: San Jose, 2-1.

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