Major League Soccer, Week 5: Burning questions and reasons to watch

Bob Levey

It's Cascadia Week. And Texas Derby week. And the two teams who might be the league's two best are playing each other. MLS is awesome.

Fans of two teams and neutrals will be all about the Cascadia Derby this weekend. Fans of every other team will be mad about the Cascadia Derby this weekend. We have fans, too! And then we tune in to the Texas Derby and there will be about 15,000 in the seats. Womp womp.

Burning questions

Will Jack Mac be reborn in Montreal?

He might not start his first game with the Montreal Impact, but since he has directly replaced Andrew Wenger, it'll be surprising if Jack McInerney doesn't make the 18-man squad and come off the bench for the Impact against New York. He has looked like a future USMNT lock at times during his career, but his finishing has sadly left him recently. Maybe he just needs a new set of teammates and a new environment.

Who's more for real: Columbus or Toronto?

The Columbus Crew are carrying an unblemished record into this weekend, but they've looked a bit shaky in their last couple of performances. Toronto FC, meanwhile, got knocked down a peg by Real Salt Lake last week. As is customary for this point in the season, everyone's wondering exactly how good these two teams are. They might go a long way towards answering that question by playing each other.

Are D.C. United improving?

D.C. United's winter signings haven't turned them all the way around and made them into an instant contender, but they at least appeared to make some progress last week, turning in a decent showing in a draw against the Chicago Fire. They have another very winnable home game on Saturday when they host the New England Revolution, and their fans will be hoping they can break their long winless streak. It'll be nice to take some momentum into the rivalry game against New York next week.

Is the Super Clásico on its way to becoming a real rivalry?

Chivas USA aren't exactly looking like an MLS Cup contender or putting lots of butts in seats yet, but the league takeover appears to have them heading in the right direction. They're off to a solid start this season, and given the LA Galaxy's tendency to start a bit slow, they probably like their chances to pull off an upset in Sunday's game. It has been a completely contrived and pointless rivalry since about the time Sacha Kljestan left Chivas, but the Galaxy's little brothers are working on rising from the dead.

Who's the league's top team right now?

It's probably one of Sporting Kansas City or Real Salt Lake. If either can come away with their game with all three points, they should probably be declared as your way way way too early favorites.

Reasons to watch

Because Sounders-Timbers is the best rivalry in MLS, no matter what the other 17 fanbases tell you

I'm sick of hearing about how great Sounders-Timbers is. You're sick of hearing about how great Sounders-Timbers is. But we've been beaten over the head with it because it really is the best rivalry in the league with the most passion between the two fanbases, the most intense play on the pitch and the highest TV ratings. It's an awesome spectacle. Don't hate it because their fans and the national MLS media oversell it a bit.

To see if the Union change (or improve) post-trade

Yes, Jack Mac is in horrible form, but Andrew Wenger? He's been disappointing since he's stepped into MLS. He's never looked like a top-two pick. He isn't some obvious systemic fit that McInerney isn't for the Union. If the Union don't look instantly better against the Chicago Fire, it will be totally okay to jump to harsh conclusions about the trade. It seemed crazy when it happened and it's going to look more crazy if it doesn't lead to some sort of sensible change in system from John Hackworth.

Because Vancouver might throw up a heat check

The Vancouver Whitecaps have started the season strongly with two home wins and two away draws. They're back at home again on Saturday and against a playoff rival, the Colorado Rapids. They're probably pretty confident at the moment and they have a slew of talented forwards who like to try cool things. Expect some shots from 30 yards, some backheels, lots of stepovers and an entertaining performance, even if they don't win.

Because train wrecks are tough to ignore

The Texas Derby is very similar to the Portland-Seattle Cascadia Derby, in that the fans seem to be more focused on belittling each other than the opposing team. Watch as a bunch of people from The Woodlands, Texas make fun of Dallas fans for playing in a stadium that's out in the middle of nowhere, then berate a bunch of people who drove four hours to come to the game for being plastic fans. Dallas fans will respond by singing about how they don't get suspended from away trips for throwing smoke bombs and starting fights, which is totally fair.

Schedule (all times ET)

Timbers vs. Sounders - 3 p.m.
Impact vs. Red Bulls - 4 p.m.
Fire vs. Union - 5 p.m.
Crew vs. Toronto FC - 6 p.m.
Whitecaps vs. Rapids - 6:30 p.m.
D.C. United vs. Revolution - 7 p.m.
Dynamo vs. FC Dallas - 8 p.m.
Sporting KC vs. RSL - 8:30 p.m.

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