MLS Game Previews August 23-25
Chicago Fire V Sporting Kansas City – August 23
The Fire will be looking to bounce back to wining ways after their 2-0 reversal last time out. The loss now leaves them five points off Houston in the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. Both Chris Rolfe and Patrick Nyarko returned to training Tuesday and it is hoped they could play a part in Fridays match. Not going to be participating on the field is Bakary Soumare who was red carded at the end of the New England game and has being handed a one game suspension. Also in the fall out Head Coach Frank Klopas, who was asked to leave the sidelines in an unrelated earlier incident and his assistant Leo Percovich for his part in the post game fracas have both being banned for one game.
Sporting also suffered a setback last time out as they lost as usual in San Jose, by a single goal. Although they still top the Eastern Conference that has being trimmed to just goal difference as New York joined them on 39 points. They do have the knowledge though that when the two last met in this stadium it was the visitors who left with the spoils after a 2-1 success. Kei Kamara is still expected to be missing with an ankle injury sustained against New England, prompting manager Peter Vermes to through a thought out there, that if a player is injured from an incident that results in a dismissal then the player red carded should have to sit out the same amount of time as the player is out injured. Interesting observation but as FIFA still makes a player who receives treatment leave the field, while unless dismissed, allows the perpetrator to say on I can’t see that happening anytime soon. Better news on the injury front was that Graham Zusi who has not seen the field since going off in the All-star game with a right quad strain trained fully on Tuesday.
Montreal Impact V Houston Dynamo – August 24
The hosts will be going for back-to-back wins after last weeks 2-1 victory over DC United. Sitting third above Philadelphia on more wins they know any slip-ups will let the chasing pack real-road them in the ultra tight Eastern Conference. Confidence should be high as when the two teams squared off here in June it was the hosts who came out on top by a 2-0 margin. Having traveled to Guatemala to face a physically tough CD Heredia in CCL action midweek coach Marco Schällibaum may have to rotate things around for this match.
Houston found the winning feeling again in their last outing as they overcame a rampant Seattle side 3-1. There is a further problem to deal with in preparation for this encounter and that involves a trip to Trinidad & Tobago to face W Connection in CCL action in what is expected to be searing heat.
DC United V Toronto FC
United have lost their last two and four of their last five in MLS as the bottom two teams in the Eastern Conference start to plan for next season. On Tuesday Coach Ben Olsen gave a frank and honest assessment of the season so far and stayed upbeat and optimistic about what the futures holds. Only time will tell however if the future includes Olsen as the teams coach.
The visitors have also being on the wrong end of the score line in their last two games both games finishing 2-0. When the two squads convened here back in June it was Toronto that left the happier after overcoming DC 2-1. This game also sees the end of the loan deal for striker Jeremy Brockie, who admitted if the opportunity arose again he was more than willing to return to the Canadian team in the future.
FC Dallas V San Jose Earthquakes
Depending what happens in their midweek game at Chivas USA Dallas will either be celebration their first victory in twelve games or trying not to make it thirteen in this match. Assuming they don’t win they will have to go back to May 25 for them to have left the pitch with three points in the bag. The good thing for the hosts is that day trudging off to the away dressing room was the very same San Jose side. The also are set to play them in their final game which for them is only nine games away, anything for small mercies. The only real positive is that they will still be no more than three points off the playoffs places regardless of whatever happens on Wednesday night.
The visitors are coming off a fantastic victory over Sporting Kansas City to keep their playoff hopes alive. Their only problem is their road form as they have won only once on their travels this term at Colorado back in June. The goal that Chris Wondolowski netted at the weekend against Sporting was his 31st game winning goal and ties him fourth all-time in league history with Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis. Of the eight goals he has scored this season five have being game winners, which makes him one of those rare players that does not only score goals but important game changing ones.
Vancouver Whitecaps V LA Galaxy
The hosts will be hoping that last weeks loss at Colorado was just a blip as any significant loss of form will more than likely see them fall out off the playoff spots. Home advantage seems to equal three points when these two squads hook-up this campaign and the Whitecaps will take a repeat of the 3-1 scoreline when the sides played here in May. Former Caps midfielder Terry Dunfield is training with then as he rehabs from a knee injury and also on trial is young Canadian midfielder/striker Brett Levis who may get a run-out in a reserve game against Seattle as his ability is assessed.
LA seem to be scoring for fun at the moment as they has recorded seven in their last two outings to climb back into the playoff places they fell out of after their idle weekend. Having defeated their opponents 2-1 in California last month they will need to end the trend of the home side gaining the spoils as they look to keep pace with the teams around them. Robbie Keane’s hat-trick against Real Salt Lake this past week earned him MLS Player of the week honors as he and fellow Designated player Landon Donovan are in a rich vain of form that LA fans hope will continue to the end of the season.
Real Salt Lake V Columbus Crew
Regardless of what happens in their midweek encounter at Portland RSL will still be heading the Western Conference after MLS decided that total wins would be the first tie-breaker if teams are tied on points. With the closeness of competition with only eight points separating eight of the nine sides a win is the only way to guarantee you do not slid in the wrong direction. Captain Kyle Beckerman is available again after he serves a one match ban against the Timbers for totting up to many yellow cards.
The Crew get set to meet RSL for the first time this season in good form as they hunt for win number three on the spin as they push for a late run at the playoff. Currently sitting in seventh and seven points off Houston they know it will take something special to achieve their goal. Their victory on Saturday against Toronto was coach Robert Warzycha 70th and ties him with Tom Fitzgerald, who coached the team from 1996-2001 on the clubs all-time list. The former Polish international also joins some of the League greats as only fourteen MLS coaches have reached this milestone and he is one of only five still active, the others are, Sigi Schmid, Bruce Arena, Dominic Kinnear and Jason Kreis.
Chivas USA V New York Red Bulls – August 25
Win lose or draw in their midweek game with FC Dallas Chivas will enter this game already looking at next year as they meet New York for the first time this season. They announced Tuesday that they had signed forward Bryan de la Fuente from their academy squad who was a key component as the U-23’s were crowned State Champions in an undefeated campaign. Also back in the ranks this week is Carlos Bocanegra, who was serving a one-game suspension after seeing a straight red in the team’s visit to San Jose.
New York missed a chance to jump to the head of the Eastern Conference as they were held to a scoreless draw at home by the Philadelphia Union in their last outing. Form wise they come into this game in what can only be described as steady as they have struggled to find any real consistency, but most of the teams in the league could say that. After Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill got back to action on Saturday the news came through this week that Jamison Olave faces a spell on the sideline after an MRI indicated a mild tear in his quad suffered near the end of the same game.
New England Revolution V Philadelphia Union
The Revs returned to winning ways with a 2-0 victory against Chicago. When the two sides last met in New England in April it was the hosts who prevailed 2-0.
After spurning the chance to claim top top last week the Union will be hoping to gain what would be their second win in three outings when the final outcome is decided here. They have already recorded a win over the opponents this campaign when they were victorious by a single goal back in March, but that game was in Philly.
Seattle Sounders V Portland Timbers
After all the euphoria of the Clint Dempsey signing and the fact the team were in the midst of the five game unbeaten run it was a but of a surprise, not that they lost to Houston, but the fact that at 3-1 it was quite conclusive. That result as well as bursting their bubble also knocked them back out of the playoff places in the Western Conference.
Depending what happens in the visitors midweek game against RSL they could be tied at the top of the Conference with their opponents and going into this game looking to extended their unbeaten run to four games. In their previous encounter with the Sounders which was also in Seattle back in March neither side could find that decisive goal as it ended in a 1-1 draw.