September 14, 2012
A look at the upcoming games
Philadelphia Union (7-13-5, 26 pts) @ Toronto FC (5-17-6, 21 pts), 12:00 pm CT (CSN-Phi, TSN)
The Philadelphia Union will try to snap their six-game winless streak against the first team to be eliminated from the MLS postseason chase, Toronto FC, Saturday at BMO Field. The Reds are a team in disarray in the wake of Wednesday night’s 2-1 home loss to Chicago, their eighth match without a win. Even before the game was over, coach Paul Mariner called the team out for its “embarrassing” performance, and recently signed Irish defender Darren O’Dea continued the tirade postgame, saying “it’s the 11 players that step over the white line that aren’t doing the business.” The Reds are now playing for their jobs, and have been told so in no uncertain terms. If there were bright spots for Toronto in the loss, they were forward Eric Hassli, who scored the lone TFC goal and had several dangerous chances, and winger Ashtone Morgan, who came off the bench at halftime to add a spark down the left side. Hassli, however, already was battling a rib injury, and is questionable for Saturday’s match. Ironically enough, the Union gave TFC their first points of the MLS season in the form of a 1-0 loss on May 26, but turned the tables with a 3-0 win at PPL Park on July 8, getting goals from Gabriel Gomez, Freddy Adu and Antoine Hoppenot. Production has fallen significantly since that point, however, to only three goals over the six-game stretch ending with a scoreless draw against New England on September 1. Defensively, however, things have been looking better, with back-to-back shutouts.
Seattle Sounders FC (13-6-8, 47 pts) @ Portland Timbers (7-14-6, 27 pts), 2:30 pm CT (NBC)
Seattle Sounders FC bring the third-most-productive attacking partnership in MLS to Jeld-Wen Field for Saturday’s Cascadia Cup encounter with the struggling Portland Timbers. After half a season of struggling, Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero have found their rhythm, powering the Sounders into second place in the MLS West. Johnson’s two goals in last weekend’s 2-1 win over Chivas USA gave him the new franchise record for most goals scored in a single season at 13. Montero has 11 goals so far this season, just one away from matching his career high. The Timbers surprised the Sounders 2-1 on June 24, but have otherwise had an unimpressive season, and are at the bottom of the MLS West after last Wednesday’s 3-0 loss to Colorado. They have stepped up against their Northwest rivals, however, and can clinch the Cascadia Cup with a win on Saturday.
Columbus Crew (12-9-6, 42 pts)@ NY Red Bulls (13-7-7, 46 pts), 6:00 pm CT (FSO, MSG)
The Columbus Crew that comes to Red Bull Arena on Saturday night is a far cry from the struggling team that took a 4-1 beating from the New York Red Bulls on April 7. Late-season signings Federico Higuain and Jairo Arrieta have transformed the Crew into a strong playoff contender. Columbus had won four straight before a 2-0 stumble to the New England Revolution on September 5, their seventh game in a 21-day span. Higuain has taken particularly well to MLS play, racking up three goals and six assists over his first five games before the streak the Revolution defense shut him down. The Red Bulls have not played since a 2-2 draw with DC United on August 29, and are unbeaten at home this season. New York has two Golden Boot contenders in Thierry Henry (11 goals) and Kenny Cooper (14 goals), with abundant added depth on attack in Sebastien LeToux, Tim Cahill, Joel Lindpere and Lloyd Sam, but it was defender Wilman Conde who came through with the late equalizer against DC in their last outing.
New England Revolution (7-14-7, 28 pts) @ DC United (12-10-5, 41 pts), 6:30 pm CT (CSN-NE)
Only a win over DC United Saturday night at RFK Stadium will guarantee that the New England Revolution’s flickering playoff hopes will stay alive for another week. A draw leaves their fate in the hands of Columbus, and a loss extends the team’s postseason drought for another season. DC United are very much in contention for a playoff spot, but took a body blow at midweek with the news that 2011 MLS MVP Dwayne De Rosario suffered a season-ending knee injury in World Cup qualifying for Canada. The Revolution snapped a 10-game winless streak with last weekend’s 2-0 win over Columbus at Gillette Stadium. Saturday will be their second visit of the season to Washington, where they fell 3-2 on May 26 after rallying to tie the game twice in the second half. In the absence of injured scoring leader Saer Sene, the Revs will pin their attacking hopes on Honduran international Jerry Bengtson, newcomer Dimitry Imbongo and youngster Diego Fagundez. United are winless in their last three, following a weather-delayed 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake on September 1, but are a formidable 9-1-4 at home, while New England has won only one road match all season. Brazilian forward Maicon Santos, who scored in both of DC’s prior matches against New England this season, came off the bench against RSL after a five-game injury layoff and is working his way back to match fitness. Former Philadelphia Union forward Lionard Pajoy also might be able to help United compensate for the loss of De Rosario. He has been a regular in the starting lineup lately and played the full 90 minutes each of the team’s last three games. And Chris Pontius has surged into the team scoring lead with 10 goals and two assists.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC (10-11-7, 37 pts) @ FC Dallas (8-12-9, 33 pts), 7:30 pm CT (SN-Pac, TXA21)
Vancouver Whitecaps FC have lost four straight heading into Saturday night’s match against FC Dallas at FC Dallas Stadium, leaving them with only a four-point hold on playoff-eligible fifth place in the MLS West over the surging Hoops. Two linchpins of the ‘Caps attack, scoring leader Darren Mattocks and winger Dane Richards, are back from grueling World Cup qualifying matches with Jamaica, while Scottish newcomer Kenny Miller is just returned from a two-games-in-four-days stint with his national team. The Whitecaps, who have managed just one goal in their last four games, need all three of them back in form, and quickly, if they are to stay in the Western Conference playoff picture. The Vancouver defense , led by goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, will also need to be on its toes, since the Dallas offense will be at full strength for the first time this season. Brek Shea, Fabian Castillo, David Ferreira and Blas Perez all are fit and available for the match, for the first time this season, as is dynamic Brazilian midfielder Jackson. Castillo already has two goals against Vancouver this season, getting the brace in a 2-0 win on August 15.
Montreal Impact (12-14-3, 39 pts)@ Chicago Fire (14-8-5, 47 pts), 7:30 pm CT (TVA Sports, CSN-Chi)
The Chicago Fire have not seen the Montreal Impact since a 1-1 draw in both teams’ season opener on March 17. Both teams are very much in the Eastern Conference playoff chase, with the Fire taking over second place in the conference with Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Toronto, and the Impact sitting seventh in the tightly-packed table, only three points out of fifth place. The Impact won five straight in August before being tripped up 2-1 by Columbus on September 1. But they have fewer games remaining (5) than any other team in the conference, and are looking at every one as a must-win. Marco Di Vaio is on a three-game goalscoring streak. The Fire have lost only once in their last seven games, and have won eight of their last nine home games, including their last four in a row. Alvaro Fernandez scored his first goal for the Fire on Wednesday, and Chris Rolfe netted the game-winner.
San Jose Earthquakes (16-605, 53 pts)@ Chivas USA (7-12-7, 28 pts), 9:30 pm CT (CSNCA+, FSW)
The San Jose Earthquakes manhandled Chivas USA 4-0 September 2 at Buck Shaw Stadium, and hope to pick up where they left off Saturday at the Home Depot Center. Chivas are winless in their last six after a 2-1 loss to Seattle last Saturday, a defeat that also benefitted the Quakes by making them the first team to qualify for the MLS Cup playoffs. Nick LaBrocca got the Goats off to an encouraging start with an eighth-minute goal, but the lead lasted only 20 minutes. The Quakes have scored eight goals in their last two games, and have already set a new club record with 56 goals this season. Veteran defender Ramiro Corrales has played a pivotal role in the team’s last two victories, notching three assists in a 4-1 win over Colorado, then scoring his first two goals of the season in the win over Chivas USA. Simon Dawkins also has stepped up while Golden Boot leader Chris Wondolowski remains in a scoring slump, scoring three goals in his last two games, and four in his last four.