June 29, 2012
A look at the upcoming games
New York Red Bulls (9-4-3, 30 pts) @ Toronto FC (2-10-2, 8 pts)), 6:00 pm CT (MSG, SN1, Galavision)
Earlier this week, Toronto FC confirmed that they are pursuing celebrated Italian defender Alessandro Nesta, but that won’t help them this Saturday, when they face MLS Golden Boot contenders Kenny Cooper and Thierry Henry, and the rest of the New York Red Bulls, at BMO Field. The Reds notched their second victory of the season on Wednesday, blanking the expansion Montreal Impact 3-0 at Stade Saputo. Torsten Frings scored his first MLS goal, and Danny Koevermans scored for the sixth time in his last six games. The premium is likely to be on defense on Saturday, however. The Red Bulls own the all-time series between the two teams, winning four of the last five by a 16-2 cumulative score. Henry and Cooper are the big guns, but last weekend it was Brandon Barklage and Jan Gunnar Solli, neither of whom had ever scored in MLS before, who lifted the Red Bulls to a critical 3-2 win over their rivals at the top of the MLS East, DC United.
Montreal Impact (5-9-3, 18 pts) @ DC United (9-5-3, 30 pts), 6:30 pm CT (TVA Sports, CSNW)
Saturday at RFK Stadium, the Montreal Impact will face a very different DC United team from the one they played to a 1-1 tie on April 18. DC has surged to the top of the Eastern Conference standings, matching the league leaders on offense with 31 goals for. Dwayne De Rosario, the 2011 MLS MVP, started the season in a playmaking role (and still leads the league with nine assists), but has recovered his scoring touch and is within two goals of 100 for his career. Chris Pontius, who scored both DC goals in last Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the New York Red Bulls, is now fifth on the league list with eight. The Impact are fresh off a 3-0 midweek loss to Toronto FC, a disappointing effort in which coach Jesse Marsch said his team was “totally outcompeted everywhere on the field.” New DP Marco Di Vaio made his MLS debut, but could not improve Montreal’s fortunes.
Seattle Sounders FC (7-5-4, 25 pts) @ New England Revolution (5-7-3, 18 pts), 6:30 pm CT (KONG, CSNNE)
The New England Revolution have not lost at Gillette Stadium since April 14, and Saturday’s opponent, Seattle Sounders FC, has not won in a club-record seven games after last weekend’s 2-1 loss to the Portland Timbers. Eddie Johnson’s 58th minute goal saved the Sounders from a shutout, but Seattle’s frustration boiled over at game’s end, with Fredy Montero (4g, 4a) taking himself out of the New England match with a red-card foul on Portland’s David Horst. The Revolution are coming off a 2-2 draw with Toronto FC, where they needed a stoppage-time header by Chris Tierney to snatch a point from the league doormats. German veteran Flo Lechner came off the bench to bolster the Revolution defense, and also contributed the game-winning assist with a clever pass into the penalty area. He is expected to start in back against Seattle, in place of the injured Kevin Alston. Midfield general Shalrie Joseph, who missed the Toronto match with an adductor strain, will be available against the Sounders, but is not expected to start.
Real Salt Lake (10-5-2, 32 pts) @ Columbus Crew (5-5-4, 19 pts), 6:30 pm CT (KUCW, FSO)
Real Salt Lake are due for a change in scenery, after dropping matches to the San Jose Earthquakes and LA Galaxy last week at Rio Tinto Stadium – their first back-to-back losses on their home ground since 2007 – and will get it on Saturday when they face the Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium. Last Saturday’s loss, in which RSL opened up a quick 2-0 lead only to fall 3-2 to the Galaxy, was particularly galling, But n despite the short string of disappointments, Salt Lake has more points (32) at this point in the season than ever before and the second-longest road unbeaten streak in team history at four games. The Crew lost 2-1 to Chicago last Saturday, their first loss in seven games. Tony Tchani scored the lone Columbus goal, off Chris Birchall’s first assist of the season, but the Crew could not manage the equalizer despite having a man advantage for 61 minutes. Costa Rica international striker Jairo Arrieta is expected to make his Crew debut on Saturday.
Philadelphia Union (3-8-2, 11 pts) @ Houston Dynamo (5-5-5, 20 pts), 7:30 pm CT (TCN-Phi, FSH)
All bets are off for the Philadelphia Union in the wake of their recent coaching change. In John Hackworth’s short tenure as interim manager, the once-struggling team has won two of three, including this week’s U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal, and scored nine goals. Jack McInerney, relegated to the bench for the early part of the season, scored two minutes into last Saturday’s dominating 4-0 win over Sporting Kansas City, and finished with a brace. Lionard Pajoy added a goal against Sporting, and connected twice in Wednesday’s Open Cup win over the Harrisburg City Islanders. And rookie Antoine Hoppenot has been a revelation off the bench, running at opponents relentlessly, creating multiple scoring chances in a 1-0 loss to DC United, then scoring a goal and drawing the penalty that sent Pajoy to the spot against Sporting. The Union will be without rookie defender Raymon Gaddis (suspended) against the Houston Dynamo Saturday at BBVA Compass Stadium, but have ample reinforcements in back, including newly-acquired Bakary Soumare, formerly of the Chicago Fire and more recently from French club US Boulogne. The Dynamo, who knocked Philadelphia out of the MLS Cup playoffs last year, are coming off a 4-2 loss to the Montreal Impact. Second-year forward Will Bruin has scored nine goals in only 15 games, and is rapidly closing in on the franchise record of 13 goals in a season, set by Brian Ching in 2003.
Portland Timbers (4-6-4, 16 pts) @ Colorado Rapids (6-8-1, 19 pts), 8:00 pm CT (KPDX, Alt)
Buoyed by the steady play of Designated Player Kris Boyd, the Portland Timbers are a confident bunch heading into Saturday’s match against the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park – despite the fact that they have yet to win on the road this season. The Timbers held off favored Seattle 2-1 last Saturday, getting early goals from Boyd and defender David Horst and a five-save performance from goalkeeper Troy Perkins. The Rapids look to have both of their marquee strikers, Omar Cummings and Conor Casey, in the starting lineup for one of the few times this season. Injuries have hindered both since opening day, but a 10-day rest between matches has helped bring both players back to match fitness. They will face a Portland defense weakened by the loss of Lovell Palmer and Hanyer Mosquera, both suspended on Saturday. Goalkeeper Matt Pickens has been busy all season, and has a league-high 63 saves, including two eight-save efforts. But he was the goat of the Rapids’ 2-1 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes on June 20, snagging Quakes forward Alan Gordon in the box in stoppage time to set up Chris Wondolowski’s game-winning pk.
LA Galaxy (6-8-2, 20 pts) @ San Jose Earthquakes (10-3-3, 33 pts), 9:30 pm CT (ESPN)
LA Galaxy captain Landon Donovan is following up an MLS Player of the Week performance with a match against one of his favorite opponents, the San Jose Earthquakes, Saturday at sold-out Stanford Stadium. A member of the original ‘Quakes, Donovan has notched either a goal (6) or an assist (5) in each of the 11 games he has played against his former team. Last week, Donovan had three goals and two assists as the Galaxy strung together wins over Real Salt Lake and Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The Earthquakes lead the MLS West with 33 points and 31 goals scored, and have made specialties of pulling out points in the closing minutes, and coming from behind. More than a third of their total goals (12) have come in the final 15 minutes, and four of those have been stoppage-time game-winners. And San Jose has finished with a win or draw in seven of the nine games in which they have given up the first goal. Chris Wondolowski leads the race for the MLS Golden Boot with 13 goals, and former Galaxy forward Alan Gordon has provided the late spark, with every one of his goals – five this season -- coming in the final half-hour.