October 5, 2012
A look at the upcoming games
DC United (15-10-6, 51 pts) @ Toronto FC (5-19-7, 22 pts), 12:00 pm CT (CSNMA, TSN)
DC United are looking for their fourth straight win at BMO Field when they visit hapless Toronto FC on Saturday. A win will keep DC in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff chase, with enough of a cushion to keep fifth-place Houston and sixth-place Columbus at bay regardless of the rest of the weekend’s games. United have beaten the Reds twice already this season, 2-0 May 5 in Toronto, and 3-1 at home on May 19. DC are coming off a 1-1 tie with Portland last weekend, thanks to a Chris Pontius penalty kick, and are unbeaten in their last four. The Reds are staggering through the waning days of the season under the weight of an 11-game winless streak after taking a 4-1 pounding from the New York Red Bulls last weekend. Ryan Johnson raised the Reds’ hopes briefly, floating a picturebook 30-yarder into the upper left corner to give Toronto a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute. But Markus Holgersson equalized in the 13th and the rest of the game was all Red Bulls. One positive development for Toronto this weekend is that forward Eric Hassli has been upgraded to questionable with an ankle injury, and might see action against DC. But defender Richard Eckersley summed up the Reds’ devastated mindset succinctly after last weekend’s loss. “We’re simply not good enough for the minute and we want the season to end so we can regroup and start again next year, really.”
Chicago Fire (16-10-5, 53 pts) @ NY Red Bulls (15-8-8, 53 pts), 2:30 pm CT (NBC)
The Chicago Fire hit an unexpected bump in their road to the Eastern Conference playoffs with last Wednesday’s 3-1 home loss to the Philadelphia Union. Losing those three points in the standings makes Saturday’s visit to Red Bull Arena even more crucial for the Windy City 11. The Fire and Red Bulls are level on points at 53, five behind conference leaders Kansas City, but the Red Bulls have the advantage in the standings thanks to their conference-best 54 goals scored. Four of those goals came last weekend, in a runaway win over Toronto. Thierry Henry earned Player of the Week honors for his one-goal, three-assist performance, Kenny Cooper scored twice, and Luis Robles did well enough in relief of the injured Bill Gaudette to earn his second start in goal against the Fire. The Red Bulls have lost only once at home this season, and beat the Fire 1-0 at RBA on July 18, with Henry doing the honors. The Fire have dropped two straight, and will be without newly-signed Mexican forward Guillermo Franco, who was red-carded – then assessed an additional one-game suspension – for a violent studs-up tackle on Philly’s Brian Carroll on Wednesday. Defender Gonzalo Segares will return to the lineup, and coach Frank Klopas to the bench, after the two served their own red card suspensions on Wednesday. The one bit of good news from the Fire’s midweek debacle was a 69th-minute goal by Dominic Oduro, who snapped a scoring drought dating to June 23.
New England Revolution (7-16-8, 29 pts) @ Philadelphia Union (9-15-6, 33 pts), 6:00 pm CT (CSNPhi, CSNNE)
The New England Revolution have never won a game at PPL Park, and head into Saturday’s meaningless matchup against the Philadelphia Union with an injury-gutted lineup missing offensive leaders Saer Sene and Lee Nguyen and starting defenders Flo Lechner, Stephen McCarthy and Chris Tierney. Although veteran netminder Matt Reis is healthy, Bobby Shuttleworth was in goal for last weekend’s 2-0 road loss to Houston, and expected to get the nod against the Union. Juan Toja is gradually building up to full game fitness, playing the final 45 minutes against the Dynamo, and should see action on Saturday. Although out of the postseason picture, the Union are coming off a feel-good 3-1 win over conference contenders Chicago Wednesday at Toyota Park. Jack McInerney scored the go-ahead goal in the seventh minute and set up the game-winner by Gabriel Gomez in the 67th. Antoine Hoppenot topped things off with a flashy backheel three minutes from time. The Union have won two of their last three, while the Revolution have taken the full three points just once since mid-July (1-9-4). Philadelphia defender Sheanon Williams will miss the match because of yellow card accumulation.
Montreal Impact (12-15-4, 40 pts) @ Houston Dynamo (13-8-10, 49 pts), 7:30 pm CT (TVA Sports, FSH)
A do-or-die weekend for the Montreal Impact kicks off Saturday against the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium. A tie or loss at the Dynamo’s so-far impregnable fortress eliminates the expansion Impact from the playoff chase. A win – a long shot considering not only Houston’s 23-game home unbeaten streak but the fact that Montreal has only two road wins in their maiden MLS season -- keeps them alive at least until Sunday’s Columbus-Kansas City match. Montreal are winless in three, although they did play conference leaders Kansas City to a scoreless draw in their last outing, and are coming off a bye week. Both prior meetings between the Impact and Dynamo have been high-scoring affairs, with the Impact winning 4-2 on June 23 and the Dynamo romping 3-0 at home on July 21. Montreal rookie Andrew Wenger, who has scored three goals in four starts this season, is finally off the injured list and expected to join DP Marco DiVaio up front against Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall. Houston beat the New England Revolution 2-0 last weekend, leaving Hall second among MLS goalkeepers with 12 shutouts. Dynamo playmaker Brad Davis is questionable for Saturday’s game with a calf strain.
San Jose Earthquakes (18-6-7, 61 pts) @ Colorado Rapids (9-18-4, 31 pts), 8:00 pm CT (CSNCA, Alt)
The San Jose Earthquakes are the first MLS team in a decade to have three double-digit goalscorers (Chris Wondolowski 22, Alan Gordon 13, Steven Lenhart 10), and are all but a shoo-in for the Western Conference regular-season championship. But they have only a three-point hold over Kansas City for the MLS Supporters’ Shield, and are looking for maximum points against the Colorado Rapids Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Although the Rapids were dumped out of the playoff chase on Wednesday, they are tough to beat at home, and last weekend held defending MLS Cup champions LA to a 1-1 draw. Jaime Castrillon scored the equalizer after defender Hunter Freeman forced a turnover. The tie extended Colorado’s home unbeaten streak to four games. The Earthquakes extended their overall unbeaten run to six games in characteristic fashion last weekend, rallying to a 3-3 tie with FC Dallas on Lenhart’s stoppage-time goal. The Quakes have scored a league-record eight stoppage-time game-winners or equalizers this season.
Real Salt Lake (16-11-4, 44 pts) @ LA Galaxy (15-11-5, 50 pts), 8:00 pm CT (NBCSN)
Real Salt Lake return to the Home Depot Center for the second time in six days to face the LA Galaxy on Saturday. Last weekend, Alvaro Saborio became the first MLS player this season to record his second hat trick, and Fabian Espindola recorded three assists, as RSL pounded Chivas USA 4-0. The Galaxy will be a tougher nut to crack. They are unbeaten in seven straight after last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Colorado. However, the match cost them a key starter when defender AJ DeLaGarza went down with a knee injury. RSL have won three straight and have a two-point edge over the Galaxy for second place in the MLS West. The teams have split the season series to date, with RSL taking a 3-1 opening day victory at the HDC on March 10, and blowing a two-goal lead to fall 3-2 at home on June 20.