MLS Week 18: A Look Ahead

MLS Week 18: A Look Ahead

Major League Soccer

MLS Week 18: A Look Ahead

Clint Dempsey

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By DAN KARELL

Both Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin are expected to make their return in front of nearly 70,000 screaming fans as Major League Soccer’s best rivalry match commences.

The Sounders host the Timbers for the second time in a week, just four days after Sigi Schmid’s squad defeated the Timbers, 3-1, in extra time to advance in the U.S. Open Cup. Now with Dempsey and Yedlin set to return, the odds are not in the Timbers favor, but that hasn’t stopped Caleb Porter in the past from pulling off huge upsets on the road.

Elsewhere in MLS this weekend, the LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake square off for the third time this season, Sporting KC look to sweep the Montreal Impact at Stade Saputo, and the struggling Columbus Crew hit the road again to face Bradley Wright-Phillips and the New York Red Bulls.

Here’s a look at this week’s MLS slate:

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES vs. D.C. UNITED (Friday, 11 p.m., NBC Sports Network)

Eastern Conference-leading D.C. United hit the road on Friday, looking to win their third straight road match when they visit the San Jose Earthquakes.

Ben Olsen’s side has so far managed to overcome the injury to Fabian Espindola, with Eddie Johnson proving a workhorse and Nick DeLeon and Luis Silva chipping in with solid performances. Shea Salinas, the Earthquakes’ leading assist man, is questionable for the match with an abdominal strain. If he’s unable to go it could be the difference for the hosts in this match.

NEW YORK RED BULLS vs. COLUMBUS CREW (Saturday, 7 p.m., MLS Live)

Bradley Wright-Phillips attempts to add to his league leading 14 goals when the New York Red Bulls host the Columbus Crew.

The Crew have been mired in a poor run of form for most of the season, winning just once in their last 14 games as they’ve slipped down the table. Designated Player Federico Higuain is questionable for the match and while Ben Speas has filled in admirably, the Crew need their Argentine star on the field. The Red Bulls meanwhile have a full squad available and could even have Dax McCarty back in the lineup this Saturday.

TORONTO FC vs. HOUSTON DYNAMO (Saturday, 7 p.m., MLS Live)

Toronto FC suffered a tough loss last week but with a healthier Michael Bradley ready to go all 90 minutes, TFC will hope to turn their fortunes around.

The Dynamo showed tremendous fight last week to come back from 2-1 down to the Red Bulls but their forward duo of Giles Barnes and Will Bruin need to score more on a consistent basis. In addition, the team’s defense has to improve. The Dynamo have uncharacteristically conceded 34 times already this season, a number that could grow with Jermain Defoe and Dwayne De Rosario playing for TFC. Defender Nick Hagglund is suspended for the match.

PHILADELPHIA UNION vs. COLORADO RAPIDS (Saturday, 7 p.m., MLS Live)

The Rapids are hoping to remain in the Western Conference playoff picture when they visit the Union on Saturday.

Pablo Mastroeni has done a tremendous job leading this young squad to third place in the conference and nearly defeated the Crew last weekend at home. The Union are coming off a difficult match against the Revolution on Wednesday and will be without Maurice Edu due to a red card suspension.

MONTREAL IMPACT vs. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., MLS Live/TSN2)

Sporting Kansas City have absolutely owned the Impact early this season and they will try and continue to move forward when they visit Montreal.

Sporting KC have defeated the Impact, 4-0, and 3-0, so far this season and both Matt Besler and Graham Zusi could return to the starting XI for the first time since leaving to join the U.S. squad for the World Cup. Adrian Lopez, Eric Miller, and Sanna Nyassi are all out for the Impact while Erik Kronberg was added to the injury list with a broken finger. Andy Gruenebaum is set to move between the sticks for the match in Montreal.

NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION vs. CHICAGO FIRE (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., MLS Live)

The Revolution will be without their top player when they host the Fire on Saturday evening.

Lee Nguyen, with five goals and an assist this season, was suspended by MLS for a dangerous play during the Revs defeat to RSL last week, but the Fire come into the match playing their third game in seven days. Mike Magee could be fresh though after being sent off in the mid-week U.S. Open Cup match. Both Benji Joya and Patrick Nyarko are questionable for the match as well.

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS vs. CHIVAS USA (Saturday, 10 p.m., MLS Live/TSN2)

Erick Torres takes his goal scoring show on the road to face the young and exciting Whitecaps on Saturday evening.

The Mexican forward has scored 12 goals in 17 matches, including four goals in his last four games, leading Chivas USA to an incredible three-match winning streak. The Whitecaps have been solid if not spectacular, losing just once in their last nine games but winning only once in their last four. The speed of the Whitecaps will be key against the inexperienced Chivas USA defense to unlock them along the wings.

LA GALAXY vs. REAL SALT LAKE (Saturday, 10:30 p.m., MLS Live)

One of the games of the weekend sees Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, and the LA Galaxy take on Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando, and Real Salt Lake.

Omar Gonzalez is expected to make his return as the two talented teams meet up for the third time this season. The Galaxy have fared better since their internationals left, going unbeaten in their last six with only six goals conceded, while RSL struggled prior to last week, going winless for five matches in a row.

SEATTLE SOUNDERS vs. PORTLAND TIMBERS (Sunday, 10 p.m., ESPN 2)

Clint Dempsey makes his return to MLS from the World Cup in front of an expected crowd of nearly 70,000 people as the Sounders host the Timbers in yet another edition of the Cascadia Cup.

The Sounders topped the Timbers, 3-1, in extra time in U.S. Open Cup action on Wednesday and the Timbers will be without both Diego Chara (suspension) and new signing Liam Ridgewell, who is unfit. Still, Diego Valeri, Fanendo Adi, and Sebastian Fernandez are set to go against Osvaldo Alonso, DeAndre Yedlin, and Dempsey. Obafemi Martins remains questionable with a hamstring injury.

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