Our weekly dose of Major League Soccer quick takes, plotlines to watch and Power Rankings.
Four players -- Frankie Hedjuk (Columbus), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Brian Ching (Houston) and Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado) -- missed their team's games last weekend while playing for the U.S. national team against El Salvador. (Landon Donovan also made the trip, but his Los Angeles Galaxy were idle.) Impressively, the four squads went 2-1-1. It speaks to the growing depth of the league that key elements from multiple teams can miss matches for international duty and the respective clubs still can hold serve.
The Seattle Sounders, who faced a stiffer opponent last weekend against Real Salt Lake, still walked away with a 2-0 victory. Nate Jaqua opened his 2009 account and Fredy Montero scored a brilliant strike to ice the game in the 77th minute. The defense held Clint Mathis and crew in check for most of the match. Now it's time to see how Sigi Schmid's squad travels as it heads to Toronto this weekend for a match in one of the league's toughest venues. By Monday morning, we'll know much more about the expansion team.
In the span of four days, Columbus plays at RSL and Chivas USA in possibly the toughest stretch any team will face all year. The Crew, one of the league's deeper teams, will need all that talent to succeed in both matches. RobbieRogers was held out of last weekend's draw with Toronto, and Hedjuk likely will be unavailable on Thursday after starting for the U.S. on Wednesday against Trinidad and Tobago. This is trial by fire time for the team's reserves.