September 13, 2012
A look at the upcoming games
Houston Dynamo (12-7-9, 45 pts)@ Sporting Kansas City (15-7-5, 50 pts), 7:30 pm CT (NBCSN)
The Houston Dynamo have their eyes on second place in the MLS East going into Friday night’s showdown with conference leaders Sporting Kansas City at Livestrong Sporting Park. A win would leave last year’s MLS Cup runners-up with 48 points, two behind Sporting and one ahead of Chicago in the tightly-packed table. The Dynamo lead the season series by virtue of a 2-1 win at BBVA Compass Stadium on July 18. The teams also played to a scoreless draw in Kansas City on July 7. Both are coming off wins, Houston knocking off Real Salt Lake 1-0 on September 6 and Sporting extending their unbeaten string to five games with a 2-1 win over Toronto FC five days earlier. Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall is tied with KC’s Jimmy Nielsen for the league lead in shutouts with 11, and will break Pat Onstad’s Dynamo single-season record with his next clean sheet. Calen Carr, who scored the game-winner against KC on July 18, will miss Friday’s match due to yellow card accumulation. Will Bruin leads the Dynamo with 11 goals, and Brad Davis is fourth in the league in assists with 11, one fewer than Sporting playmaker Graham Zusi. Sporting are looking for not only breathing room in the conference chase, but also for a shot at the MLS Supporters’ Shield, which means picking up at least four points on the San Jose Earthquakes. Sporting have 14 wins going into this weekend, one shy of the team record set in 2000, when they took both the Supporters Shield and the MLS Cup. KC will be near full strength, but starting midfielders Roger Espinoza and Zusi are just back from midweek World Cup Qualifiers, and scoring leader (10 goals) Kei Kamara played 90 minutes for Sierra Leone last Saturday.
Colorado Rapids (9-17-2, 29 pts)@ LA Galaxy (13-11-4, 43 pts), 10:00 pm CT (Alt, KDOC, Univision Deportes)
The LA Galaxy and Colorado Rapids kick off a home-and-home set Friday night at the Home Depot Center. Colorado is coming off a 3-0 home win over Portland, getting goals from Andre Akpan, Tony Cascio and Jaime Castrillon as they snapped a four-game winless streak. Goalkeeper Matt Pickens earned MLS Save of the Week honors for his 45th-minute kick-stop on Franck Songo’o’s 45th-minute volley, a shot complicated by a deflection off defender Drew Moor on its way toward the net. The Galaxy have been idle since a 2-0 win over Vancouver on September 1. The Galaxy’s rotating cast of stars for Saturday is expected to include Ireland international Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan, who is still nursing his healing hamstring but notched a goal and an assist in a Reserve League match against Portland on Tuesday and has indicated that he plans to be ready against the Rapids. In addition, forward Edson Buddle has been deemed fully fit and Swedish newcomer Christian Wilhelmsson has received his P-1 visa and might be available by the weekend. David Beckham is more of a question mark with a sprained ankle. A win on Friday would move the Galaxy into a third-place tie with Real Salt Lake in the MLS West. The Rapids, meanwhile, enter the weekend eight points out of the conference playoff picture with six games left to play, and need every point they can get to keep their postseason hopes alive.