Giant Juicy Previews Major League Soccer

RPL and MLS - The Big Football Weekend Preview

9:36 PMGoalChatter

Giant Juicy Previews

by Aleks V | @aleksvee

With the second day of the 20th MLS season and the return of the 2014/15 RPL, GoalChatter takes a look at this weekend's action-packed football schedule. All times are in EST.

Saturday March 7

8:00am - RPL - Terek Grozny vs CSKA Moscow
The reigning champions of the Russian Premier League kick off the first RPL match of 2015 on Saturday morning with an away game against 9th placed Terek. Although the team from Grozny poses no threat to overtake the leader board and will probably finish the season mid-table, Leonid Slutskiy's men should be wary of the hosts' defense; Terek have thus far conceded the least number of goals at home in the Premier League. They've also signed defenders and forwards during the transfer window, including former Lokomotiv centre-back Rodolfo. Being away from their usual residence at Akhmat Arena, however, may tinker with their home field advantage. With 11 goals allowed in 7 away games, CSKA will need to focus on getting more clean sheets on the road. Goal difference may play a crucial role in the title race. The Army Men's main weakness, however, is the lack of an experienced player up front after Seydou Doumbia's departure to AS Roma. Will their newly-signed young strikers be up to the challenge?

11:00am - RPL - Zenit St Petersburg vs Ural
Zenit manager Andre Villas-Boas. Photo: Getty Images.
Andre Villas-Boas said he wanted to do for Zenit what Peter the Great did for St. Petersburg, and so far, he's been true to his word. With a 13-2-2 record and a spot in the Europa League Round of 16, Zenit are an unstoppable machine. A home game against relegation-bound Ural is likely to see them pass go and collect 3 points. Neither team has made any key signings, although Artem Dzyuba will be joining Zenit in the summer. Ural's veteran centre-back Solvi Ottesen left for Chinese club Jiangsu Sainty in February. For the visitors, it'll be one of many opportunities to attempt to salvage a spot in the Premier League.

10:30pm - MLS - Portland Timbers vs Real Salt Lake
Both teams are at a turning point. Portland start the season with injuries and a new keeper in goal after the departure of Donovan Ricketts to Orlando City SC. RSL's squad is a mix of young and experienced players in all positions. Both sides have shown some good football last season, but failed to meet expectations. What will happen this time around?

Sunday March 8

5:30am - RPL - Spartak Moscow vs Krasnodar
Otkritie Arena.
An epic battle between two teams in the race for a European spot. Krasnodar will attempt to break Spartak's unbeaten home record at Otkritie Arena. Adding drama to this fixture is Spartak midfielder Roman Shirokov's loan to the visitors. Although the Red-and-Whites have parted with a slew of key players, including Artem Dzyuba, and failed to replace them, the club has expressed their desire to shift focus on their homegrown players. Krasnodar, meanwhile, have loaned out defender Nikolay Markov and winger Nikita Burmistrov. Right-back Artur Jedrzejczyk is out injured and expected to return in late May. Refereeing may play a vital role - referee Sergey Ivanov is known for giving out bookings and has awarded 6 penalties in 11 games this season.

8:00am - RPL - Dynamo Moscow vs Ufa
Dynamo aim to keep expanding their 17-game unbeaten streak in all competitions. With just two points separating them from 2nd place CSKA, the Blue-and-Whites also have a shot at the silver medals and a Champions League spot. One of the tests for any successful side is whether or not they underestimate a seemingly lesser opponent. Another challenge for Dynamo will be solving their ongoing lack of a clear, consistent centre-forward. Ufa have strengthened their midfield and line of attack during the winter transfer window, and are looking to attain mid-table stability while avoiding the relegation zone.

10:30am - RPL - Rostov vs Lokomotiv Moscow
Bottom-of-the-table Rostov will attempt to regain their form with a new manager in Kurban Berdyev, and a slew of players on loan from bigger sides, including Artem Dzyuba and Sardar Azmoun. Berdyev will be tasked with the club's revival, and his coaching record shows he is up to the job. He made 30 appearances and scored 5 goals for Rostov as a player, and saw a successful 12-year coaching stint at Rubin Kazan that resulted in two Premier League titles, a Cup and two Super Cups. Rostov have been doing considerably better at home than away, so the support of their fans may help boost morale. Lokomotiv have one of the best defenses in the league and are just four points shy of 2nd place. They're always an ambitious side, so Rostov need to be careful to not allow goals.

4:00pm - MLS - Orlando City SC vs New York City FC
Orlando City supporters. Photo:
Two new MLS teams face off in their inaugural season. The Big Apple has its first local football club since the New York Cosmos of the 70's and 80's, with a roster featuring a slew of familiar MLS players as well as Spanish forward David Villa. There's also a familiar coach in Jason Kreis, who led Real Salt Lake to their first MLS Cup. For Orlando, the game marks Florida's return to MLS after the Miami Fusion and Tampa Bay Mutiny were disbanded in 2001. Expectations are high for both sides.

6:00pm - MLS - Sporting Kansas City vs New York Red Bulls
The teams head into the new season with some big changes. For SKC, that includes the defense and the departure of Aurelien Collin and C.J. Sapong. For the Red Bulls, a new head coach after Mike Petke's successful run, and the absence of Thierry Henry. There's only one word to describe this fixture: uncertainty.

8:30pm - MLS - Seattle Sounders vs New England Revolution
Changes in defense for the Sounders with the departure of DeAndre Yedlin and Djimi Traore may shake things up in this fixture. They've signed veteran right- and centre-back Tyrone Mears, who played for English clubs like Bolton, Preston and Burnley, and 21-year-old left-back Andres Correa, who shone in the 2013 U-20 South American Championships. One of the main questions in this match-up will be Juan Agudelo's return to the Revs. Will he be able to return to the top of his game that he wowed us with in his early appearances for the USMNT?

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