MLS Week 20: A Look Ahead

MLS Week 20: A Look Ahead

Major League Soccer

MLS Week 20: A Look Ahead

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By TRAVIS CLARK

The midway point of August is here, and the pressure continues to mount on those teams on the fringes of playoff contention.

One team that hasn't won much for the past two months is the San Jose Earthquakes, winners of just one games since the end of May. Since then, injuries have decimated the club's back line, leaving Frank Yallop with few options to choose from heading into a clash with the Kansas City Wizards.

Two teams who aren't quite as worried about playoff positioning are the Los Angeles Galaxy and New York Red Bulls, who square off in the weekend's marquee match-up. The health of Thierry Henry will be under the spotlight, not to mention the fitness of several internationals who were in action this week.

Here is a closer look at this weekend's MLS matchups:

COLORADO RAPIDS (7-5-6) vs. PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-10-4) Saturday 4:00 p.m., Telefutura

The young Philadelphia Union continue to struggle to produce results, putting in another strong performance against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday, but only netting a single point against the defending champions.

A visit from the Colorado Rapids is an opportunity to give the Sons of Ben something to cheer about, as Colorado is once again in the middle of a mid-season swoon. They showed signs of life in a win over San Jose, but only got on the board thanks to Jon Busch's calamitous error. Omar Cummings needs to get clicking again in attack, though look out for the Union's Sebastian Le Toux to continue carrying his young team. Philadelphia 2, Colorado 1.

LOS ANGELES GALAXY (12-3-4) vs. NEW YORK RED BULLS (9-6-4) Saturday 6:00 p.m., FSC/FSE

The weekend's marquee match pits the second-best team in the East against the league's first place squad. It's been something of a struggle for Los Angeles of late, looking off the astounding pace they set at the start of the season.

Thierry Henry's health is big here — with a healthy Henry, the attack is exponentially more dangerous, although the team has achieved good results without him. A sellout crowd is expected, and they'll get a tight, evenly matched game that New York wins — even if the French striker can't go 90 minutes. New York 1, Los Angeles 0.

FC DALLAS (7-2-9) vs. D.C. UNITED (3-13-3) Saturday 8:00 p.m., Direct Kick

Pretty much every disastrous scenario out there has struck D.C. United at some point in 2010. Curt Onalfo is gone, Ben Olsen in his place. The new coach was unable to change anything results-wise against New England last weekend. The only good news is that FC Dallas has consistently failed to succeed at past visits to RFK.

That, of course, has little bearing, as Dallas is one of the best teams in MLS. A solid defense has been boosted by timely scoring, and Schellas Hyndman just might manage a win in the nation's capital this time around. FC Dallas 2, D.C. United 0.

HOUSTON DYNAMO (5-9-5) vs. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (5-9-3) Saturday 8:00 p.m., Direct Kick

Both sides need to win, and win now or see their already dim hopes for postseason grow even less likely. The return of an injured Geoff Cameron to the lineup for Houston is a big boost, but one that might not be enough to help the team recover in time for the playoffs. Brian Ching has looked a bit off the scoring pace as well.

New recruits will lineup for New England, and if Steve Nicol has brought in the right players, as Nicol indicated he would give the newly signed Ilija Stolica a shot in the starting lineup. The likely return of Marko Perovic also bodes well for the Revolution. New England 2, Houston 1.

COLUMBUS CREW (11-4-4)  vs. REAL SALT LAKE (10-4-6) Saturday 9:00 p.m., Direct Kick

An intriguing re-match of last year's playoff pairing sees the Crew take a trip to Real Salt Lake's fortress. Columbus is battered with injuries at the moment, and will be missing Eddie Gaven (concussion) and Robbie Rogers (leg).

Both sides are looking ahead towards the start of CONCACAF Champions League group play this week, but Salt Lake should be well rested after giving a number of regulars a night off, and will close the gap on Los Angeles if results go their way. Real Salt Lake 3, Columbus 1.

KANSAS CITY WIZARDS (5-8-5) vs. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (6-6-5) 10:00 p.m., Direct Kick

Kansas City has started to show signs of life this year, but needs to start winning with a higher frequency to validate playoff aspirations. Goal-scoring has proven troublesome thus far, and a lot of Kansas City's success will be determined by rookie Teal Bunbury, who has been steadily improving all season. If the former Akron Zip catches fire and starts hitting the net with some consistency, the Wizards will be in better shape.

The Earthquakes sit at the opposite end of the spectrum. Impaired by injuries to their defense, San Jose has watched themselves tumble down the ladder, struggling to win much of anything of late. There's still time for a recovery, but it won't come against the Wizards. San Jose 1, Kansas City 1.

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (8-8-4) vs. CHIVAS USA (5-10-3) 11:00 p.m., Direct Kick

The Fredy Montero show takes to the road, visiting Chivas USA and the Home Depot Center. Seattle has jumped back into playoff contention, thanks mostly to the dominating performances put in by the young Colombian.

Chivas will do their best to try and slow him down, as the Rojiblancos look for another impressive win at home. Justin Braun is one of a few bright spots this season, and look for Montero to bring road success to the Sounders this weekend. Seattle 3, Chivas 1.

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Which match-up do you consider the most intriguing? Think the Crew can get a point or three at Rio Tinto? See the Red Bulls continuing the Galaxy's recent slide?

Share your thoughts below.

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