With the international break nearly here, MLS teams are cramming in games before World Cup qualifiers begin, and the result is a numerous mid-week matches.
Four MLS games and a friendly accompany the Canadian championship on the docket Wednesday night, highlighted by the New York Red Bulls' five-game winning streak being put to the test by recent trade partner Chivas USA and the Los Angeles Galaxy looking to end their struggles against the San Jose Earthquakes in the California Clasico.
Here's a closer look at the Wednesday MLS slate:
NEW YORK RED BULLS VS. CHIVAS USA (7:30 p.m., MLS Live/Direct Kick)
Just days after making a trade that sent Juan Agudelo from New York to Chivas for Heath Pearce, the two clubs do battle at Red Bull Arena, where the Red Bulls will look to make it six wins in a row.
Agudelo won't partake in the match, as he is on international duty, but Pearce will be lined up in front of standout rookie goalkeeper Ryan Meara. With Agudelo out, Chivas could turn to Juan Pablo Angel, who will make his return to RBA.
Thierry Henry, Rafa Marquez and Wilman Conde are all fit enough to make their returns, giving Hans Backe much more flexibility than usual when filling out his lineup card.
CHICAGO FIRE VS. FC DALLAS (8:30 p.m., MLS Live/Direct Kick)
The Fire return home after a lackluster performance in Portland, but they welcome a beaten up FC Dallas side that is still without the suspended Brek Shea.
The Fire are still likely to be without Chris Rolfe, who has been dealing with an ankle injury and has yet to make his first appearance since being reacquired by the Fire. The onus will be on the speedy Ghanian duo of Patrick Nyarko and Dominic Oduro to attack a defense that is without Ugo Ihemelu, who is still dealing with post-concussion symptoms, and Hernan Pertuz, who suffered a leg injury last week.
Dallas can't be counted out at Toyota Park, where it has a 5-0-1 record since 2006. Blas Perez will test the young centerback pairing of Jalil Anibaba and Austin Berry in this Brimstone Cup affair.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS VS. COLUMBUS CREW (10 p.m., MLS Live/Direct Kick)
The Sounders attacking quartet of Fredy Montero, Mauro Rosales, Eddie Johnson and Alvaro Fernandez is set for its second match together this season, which could spell trouble for the Crew and their Chad Marshall-less back line. Andy Gruenebaum has been immense in goal recently, and he'll likely need to come up with another top-notch performance to stifle Seattle at CenturyLink Field.
Second-year forward Justin Meram has hit his stride for the Crew since being inserted into the lineup, scoring highlight-reel goals in each of his last two games, and he'll look to spearhead the effort of coach Sigi Schmid's former team against his current one.
LOS ANGELES GALAXY VS. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (10:30 p.m., MLS Live/Direct Kick)
The reeling Galaxy will have to get contributions from their non-Designated Player attackers, as Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane are off on international duty. When these teams met last year at Buck Shaw Stadium, Mike Magee was pressed into emergency goalkeeping duty and pitched an improbable shutout. The Galaxy could use some offensive contributions from the veteran this time around considering their absences.
San Jose is shorthanded as well, as Chris Wondolowski is with Donovan at U.S. national team camp. Alan Gordon has been a late-game hero for the Earthquakes the last two weeks. Can he do it again against another one of his former teams?
PORTLAND TIMBERS VS. VALENCIA (10:30 p.m.)
OK, so it's not a league game, but the Timbers welcome the UEFA Champions League-bound Spanish side to Jeld-Wen Field for an international friendly.
The Timbers are coming off a confidence-building victory over the Fire, and more good news may be on the way, as injured players David Horst and Kalif Alhassan should be worked into the fray at some point during the night's festivities.
How do you see Wednesday's matches playing out?
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