July 27, 2012
A look at the upcoming games
Houston Dynamo (9-5-7, 34 pts) @ Toronto FC (5-11-4, 19 pts), 4:30 pm ET (FSH, GolTV-Ca)
Toronto FC and the Houston Dynamo are both on a roll, bringing three-game winning streaks into Saturday’s Eastern Conference showdown at BMO Field. Much of the Dynamo’s recent success has come on the spanking-new turf of BBVA Compass Stadium. They are a more modest 2-5-4 on the road. Last weekend, they blanked Montreal 3-0 behind a two-goal performance by Macoumba Kandji. On June 20, the Reds came as close as any other MLS team to success at the Dynamo’s new home, leading for much of the match before settling for a 3-3 draw. However, after finally finding some offensive rhythm, Toronto FC were thrown back into shakedown mode by a season-ending injury to scoring leader Danny Koevermans and the arrival of new Designated Player Eric Hassli from Vancouver and forwards Andrew Wiedemann from FC Dallas and Quincy Amarikwa, who most recently played for the Colorado Rapids but had been claimed off waivers by New York. Luis Silva had a hand in both goals as TFC rallied to edge Colorado 2-1 last weekend, but Wiedemann was the hero, scoring the game-winner in his first appearance for the team. Amarikwa scored the lone goal in last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with English power Liverpool.
New York Red Bulls (11-5-5, 38 pts)@ Montreal Impact (7-13-3, 24 pts), 7:30 pm ET (MSG, TVA Sports)
The York Red Bulls roared to the top of the MLS East last week with back-to-back victories over the Chicago Fire and Philadelphia Union, and hope to make it three in a row over conference foes when they face the Montreal Impact Saturday at Stade Saputo. The Impact were pounded 3-0 in Houston last weekend, but have posted six of their seven wins at home. Patrice Bernier leads the way with six goals and five assists. Italian World Cup veteran defender Alessandro Nesta made his Impact debut in a midweek friendly against Olympique Lyonnaise, and played 63 minutes in the 1-1 draw. Red Bulls forward and MLS Golden Boot contender Kenny Cooper snapped a 625-minute personal scoring drought with both goals in last Saturday’s 2-0 win over the Union. Rookie Connor Lade set up both goals. Journeyman ‘keeper Bill Gaudette is unbeaten in his three games relieving injured starter Ryan Meara, and has back-to-back shutouts. Two of New York’s 11 wins this season came over Montreal. Thierry Henry had a hat trick in a 5-2 victory on May 31, and the Red Bulls rallied to a 2-1 victory on May 19. Cooper scored in both matches.
LA Galaxy (9-10-3, 30 pts)@ FC Dallas (5-10-7, 22 pts), 8:00 pm ET (NBCSN)
Both the LA Galaxy and FC Dallas got off to wretched starts this season, and both have shown signs of reversing their fortunes and mounting explosive attacks going into Saturday’s match at FC Dallas Stadium. The Hoops have won two of their last three, and routed the Portland Timbers 5-0 last weekend for their biggest win in three years. Dallas forward Brek Shea, plagued of late by ineffective play and flashes of temperament, is not expected to factor into Saturday’s match, but midfield dynamo David Ferreira continues to see minutes as he recovers from foot surgery, and helped set up a pair of goals last weekend. The Galaxy are unbeaten in four of their last five, and took last Saturday’s SuperClasico 3-1 over Chivas USA. Landon Donovan, who scored twice in that victory, will be suspended against FCD after collecting his fifth yellow card, and while star midfielder David Beckham has not been officially ruled out, he will be coming off his second transatlantic journey in a week because of the Olympics. The Galaxy needed a stoppage-time strike by Pat Noonan to salvage a 1-1 draw in the teams’ first match of the season, on April 28.
Columbus Crew (7-7-4, 25 pts)@ Sporting Kansas City (11-6-4, 37 pts), 8:30 pm ET (FSO, KSMO)
Two weeks ago, Sporting Kansas City beat the Columbus Crew 2-0 at Crew Stadium. Columbus will try to take their revenge Saturday night at Livestrong Sporting Park. KC has suffered a couple of key losses since that initial match. Teal Bunbury, who scored against Columbus on the 14th, is considered doubtful for Saturday after undergoing oral surgery, defender Aurelien Collin is out for at least two weeks with facial fractures after colliding with Chelsea’s Michael Essien during Wednesday’s MLS All-Star Game, defender Chance Myers is out with a groin strain, and midfielder Roger Espinoza is with the Honduran Olympic team. Collin and Myers have played key roles a formidable KC defense that has allowed only five goals in 10 home games this season. The Crew ended DC United’s four-game unbeaten streak 1-0 last Saturday, and edged England’s Stoke City FC 2-1 on Tuesday. Costa Rican newcomer Jairo Arrieta has had a couple more weeks to get comfortable with his new teammates, and is there to add spark to a lackluster offense that has scored only 19 goals this season.
Seattle Sounders FC (8-5-7, 31 pts)@ Colorado Rapids (7-13-1, 22 pts), 9:00 pm ET (KONG, Alt)
Seattle Sounders FC have beaten the Colorado Rapids twice already this season, and will be going for a season sweep on Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids have dropped five straight and seven of their last eight, most recently falling 2-0 to Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium last Saturday. One more loss will tie the team record, set in 1997. The Rapids will get some shoring up at midfield this week when Jeff Larentowicz comes off suspension, but the Rapids are still struggling up top, with both Conor Casey and Omar Cummings battling recurrent injuries. Seattle have not played since a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls on July 15. Alvaro Fernandez, who scored in that match and against the Rapids on July 7, was shipped out to the Chicago Fire on Friday, but Fredy Montero is looking more like his old self, coming off the bench to score the 2-2 equalizer against the Red Bulls. Sounders forward Eddie Johnson played the hero for the MLS All-Stars on Wednesday night, scoring in stoppage time to deliver a 3-2 win over European champions Chelsea.
Chicago Fire (9-7-4, 31 pts) @ San Jose Earthquakes (13-5-4, 43 pts), 10:30 pm ET (NBC5.2, CSNCA)
Major League Soccer’s only interconference match of the weekend kicks off Saturday night at Buck Shaw Stadium, when the league-leading San Jose Earthquakes host the Chicago Fire. Both teams are coming off losses, the Fire 1-0 to New York in a steamy midday matinee on July 18, and the Quakes 2-1 to upstarts Vancouver last weekend. It will be a homecoming of sorts for Chicago defender Jalil Anibaba, who played his college soccer for Santa Clara University at Shaw Stadium. Stephen Lenhart, the San Jose forward with a Harpo Marx hairdo and knack for scoring clutch goals, will be off the injured list just in time for Stephen Lenhart Wig Night, but All-Star defender Stephen Beitashour will sit out the match because of accumulated yellow cards. Chris Wondolowski leads the team and the league with 17 goals, and gets solid support up front from Alan Gordon, who scored San Jose’s only goal against Vancouver last weekend. Wondolowski, who put the MLS All-Stars on the board against Chelsea on Wednesday night, is mired in what amounts to a slump for him – two league games without a goal. He has not gone more than two games without scoring since August 2011. Goals have been a problem for Chicago recently. The loss to New York was the third time in four games they had been shut out. They have tried to remedy that situation by signing Dutch striker Sherjill McDonald and attacking midfielder Alvaro Fernandez from Seattle.
Chivas USA (6-8-5, 23 pts)@ Portland Timbers (5-11-4, 19 pts), 11:00 pm ET (Prime Ticket, ROOT)
The Portland Timbers have been in a tailspin since the forced departure of coach John Spencer, hitting bottom (they hope) with last Saturday’s 5-0 loss to equally woeful FC Dallas. After three straight losses under interim coach Gavin Wilkinson and a mind-numbing 11 goals against over that span, they will continue the search for a win Saturday at home against Chivas USA. Things have been on the upswing for Chivas USA, but they suffered a setback last weekend when they dropped the second game of this season’s SuperClasico series to the LA Galaxy 3-1 at the Home Depot Center. The loss snapped a four-game unbeaten streak. Chivas have beaten Portland twice this season, 2-1 on April 7 and 1-0 on July 18, but their most potent weapon of that series, playmaking midfielder Ryan Smith, is nursing a sore hamstring and might not play on Saturday.