Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
The Cascadia Cup takes center stage on Sunday, with millions of eyes turned towards the Pacific Northwest to watch the Seattle Sounders take on the Portland Timbers
Clint Dempsey is expected to make his home debut for the Sounders in front of a sold-out crowd at CenturyLink Field, but the Timbers will do everything they can to place the Sounders in the rear-view mirror as they move up the Western Conference standings.
Across the league this weekend, the struggling Montreal Impact host the recently hot Houston Dynamo; Landon Donovan and the LA Galaxy visit the Vancouver Whitecaps; and the Philadelphia Union travels up I-95 to renew acquaintances with the New England Revolution.
Here is a rundown of the Week 26 slate:
CHICAGO FIRE vs. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (Friday, 8:30pm, NBC Sports Network)
The Fire probably couldn’t have picked a better time to take on Sporting KC at home in front of a national audience. The home side is on form, winners of three in their last five, while Sporting KC have slipped a bit, losing three of their last four games.
Sporting KC will also be without Kei Kamara, but they could return Graham Zusi to the fold for the first time since the MLS All-Star game. The Fire are hopeful that Patrick Nyarko and Chris Rolfe will be available as well.
D.C. UNITED vs. TORONTO FC (Saturday, 7pm, MLS Live/)
D.C. United were given good news on Friday when they found out that head coach Ben Olsen had his automatic one-match suspension rescinded by MLS commissioner Don Garber. The news is the antithesis of what TFC learned this week, losing starting midfielder Matias Laba for at least one month.
Conor Doyle has been a part of the last three D.C. United goals, and has scored twice against Canadian clubs since his loan move to RFK Stadium.
MONTREAL IMPACT vs. HOUSTON DYNAMO (Saturday, 7pm, MLS Live/TSN 2/RDS)
The Impact suffered a mid-week loss in their CONCACAF Champions League trip to Guatemala, and while they left a large amount of their team at home, they’ve struggled against non-bottom feeding teams this summer.
Giles Barnes is in form once more with two goals last Saturday, and Will Bruin added one as well, making this game a scary proposition for the Impact’s aging defensive line.
FC DALLAS vs. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (Saturday, 9pm, MLS Live)
After 11 games without a win, FC Dallas finally overcame their opponents, taking down Chivas USA on Wednesday, 3-1, even when down to ten men. Ramon Nuñez looks to be getting back to the fold, scoring a goal and providing an assist as well.
FC Dallas midfielder Jackson is suspended due to a red card but the Earthquakes will have to be careful as well; both Steven Lenhart and Rafael Baca are on yellow card warning.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS vs. LOS ANGELES GALAXY (Saturday, 9pm, MLS Live/TSN2)
The two teams have traded wins at each others places, but the opening match between the LA Galaxy and Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place was the coming out party of youngster Russell Teibert.
The Galaxy will likely start Jaime Penedo again, who replaced Carlo Cudicini in goal last Saturday and in the mid-week CONCACAF Champions League victory.
REAL SALT LAKE vs. COLUMBUS CREW (Saturday, 9:30pm, MLS Live)
RSL hasn’t won on the road in four matches, but luckily for them, they’re returning to the Rio Tinto Stadium with an inter-conference encounter with the Crew.
Crew forward Federico Higuain has scored two goals in each of the last two matches, but both matches were at home, and now he’ll have to replicate that form on the road.
CHIVAS USA vs. NEW YORK RED BULLS (Sunday, 5pm, UniMas)
Since June, the New York Red Bulls have scored just three goals in road matches, being shut out on four other occasions. However, a healthy Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill could take advantage of the season-long struggling Chivas USA.
Chivas USA will be without Gabe Farfan and Tristan Bowen due to red card suspensions.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION vs. PHILADELPHIA UNION (Sunday, 7:30pm, MLS Live)
Both the Revolution and Union and working towards a playoff place, and with a win, the Revolution could put themselves tied with fifth-placed Houston Dynamo.
The Revolution have a new goalkeeper competition, as Matt Reis has returned and posted a win last Saturday. The Union are looking for forward Jack McInerney to break his eight-game scoreless streak. Saer Sene will miss out for the Revolution.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS vs. PORTLAND TIMBERS (Sunday, 10pm, ESPN2)
Flash bulbs will be popping the minute Clint Dempsey walks on the pitch in front of a sold out crowd on Sunday night. Dempsey is expected to start, as he works towards returning to full match fitness.
The Timbers will be without key midfielder Diego Chara, who is suspended due to yellow card accumulation. Caleb Porter’s side are hopeful that Will Johnson will be full fit for action.