August 18, 2012
A look at the upcoming games
Philadelphia Union (7-12-2, 23 pts) @ DC United (11-8-3, 36 pts), 4:00 pm CT (NBCSN)
The Philadelphia Union and DC United warmed up for this weekend’s match at RFK Stadium with a midweek player swap, the Union sending forward Lionard Pajoy – who was tied for the team scoring lead with five goals – for young midfielder Danny Cruz, who battled injury early in the season and has a goal and three assists in 16 appearances for United. United have not lost on their home field since March 10, outscoring their opponents 24-9 overall at home. United also notched one of their three road wins at Philadelphia’s PPL Park, with Chris Pontius netting the only goal on June 16. DC has flirted with the Eastern Conference lead several times this season, but have been unable to hold it, and are currently clinging to the fifth and final playoff-eligible spot after last weekend’s 2-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City. Injuries took their toll on DC, with 2011 MLS MVP Dwayne DeRosario missing his first match of the season with a shoulder injury, forward Maicon Santos injured and fellow striker Hamdi Salihi ill, and sturdy defender Daniel Woolard sidelined with a concussion. Of the four, only Salihi is considered likely to log time against the Union. After an encouraging start under interim manager John Hackworth, the Union have settled back into a pattern of underachievement that threatens their already slim postseason hopes. They have dropped three of their last four. Jack McInerney, who has shouldered much of the scoring load since Hackworth took over, missed the match because of a suspension, giving rookie Chandler Hoffman a rare start and, for a time, his first MLS goal, until the 34th minute header was re-credited, first to Philadelphia’s Freddy Adu, and eventually as an own goal to Chicago defender Jalil Anibaba.
Portland Timbers FC (5-12-6, 21 pts) @ New York Red Bulls (12-7-5, 41 pts), 6:00 pm CT (KPTV, MSG+, Galavision)
The odds don’t look good for the Portland Timbers against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday night. The Red Bulls have yet to lose at home this season (8-0-3), while Portland have not won on the road (0-8-3). The Timbers did, however, take a point from Wednesday’s 2-2 tie with Toronto FC at BMO Field, their second straight draw against an Eastern Conference opponent. And the Red Bulls, 2-0 winners over the Houston Dynamo last weekend, have shown a tendency to stumble against lower-ranked teams. New York got a boost last weekend from new DP Tim Cahill, who played a role in both goals against the Dynamo. And Jan Gunnar Solli scored for the third time in nine games. Sal Zizzo’s 21st-minute goal against Toronto snapped the Timbers’ league-record 717-minute road scoreless streak. Darlington Nagbe salvaged the draw with his first goal since March 31.
Columbus Crew (8-8-5, 29 pts) @ Houston Dynamo (11-6-7, 40 pts), 8:00 pm CT (FSO, FSH)
The Houston Dynamo are looking for a new start after ending their five-game winning streak and eight-game unbeaten string with last weekend’s 2-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls. The Dynamo have yet to lose at BBVA Compass Stadium (8-0-3), and have not dropped a home game since June 18, 2011. Houston have recorded six shutouts in their last eight games, leaving netminder Tally Hall one shy of Pat Onstad’s franchise-record of 11 clean sheets in a single season. The Crew played the LA Galaxy to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday night at a Crew Stadium festooned with memorials to rookie Kirk Urso, who died unexpectedly two weeks ago. Jairo Arrieta scored for the third time in his last three games. Columbus just signed a new Designated Player, Federico Higuain, whose brother Gonzalo plays for Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid, and he might be available against the Dynamo. The teams played to a 2-2 tie on April 21.