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MLS Week 15: A Look Ahead



 Photo by Don Feria/ 



An old-school California derby renews itself this weekend when Los Angeles and San Jose get together at Buck Shaw Stadium.

Although the Superclasico between the Galaxy and Chivas USA has gotten most of the state's rivalry headlines in recent years, the Los Angeles-San Jose feud has more history on its side. In 2001, the Western Conference rivals met in the MLS Cup, where goals from Landon Donovan and Dwayne De Rosario led the Earthquakes to victory.

Those two clubs meet Saturday in the first half of FSC's doubleheader that will conclude with the Gold Cup final between the United States and Mexico. Elsewhere in MLS action this weekend, FC Dallas and Portland will meet again after the Timbers pulled out a hectic 3-2 win over the Texas side in April, and Columbus and Colorado will clash in a rematch of the teams' 2010 playoff series.

Here is a rundown of the full week 15 slate:

D.C. UNITED vs. HOUSTON DYNAMO (Saturday, 6 p.m., Telefutura)

United players and coaches often point to the team's 4-1 loss at Houston in late April as a turning point in the season. After that result, coach Ben Olsen shook up his lineup a bit and re-focused his team's work ethic and defensive discipline. Since then, United has been a steady, if unspectacular, 2-1-4.

With the Dynamo coming to town, United will want to turn in a complete performance and pick up the full three points against a Houston side one point above it in the Eastern Conference standings. Marking striker Will Bruin, who notched a hat trick against United in April, will obviously be key. To Houston, the loss of midfielder Lovel Palmer to a red card suspension is a tough blow.


The Galaxy further entrenched its status at the team to beat in MLS this season by picking up a 3-1 win at Colorado last week, despite missing goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and midfielders David Beckham and Landon Donovan.

Although Donovan is still out on Gold Cup duty and Beckham could miss the match with back spasms, Ricketts will be back. While San Jose will still be missing Donovan's U.S. teammate, Chris Wondolowski, the return of Ryan Johnson (who was playing with Ricketts for Jamaica) will be a welcome boost.

PHILADELPHIA UNION vs. CHIVAS USA (Saturday, 8 p.m., Direct Kick)

After coming back from a horrific start to the season and putting together a string of nice results, Chivas has now lost two in a row and is again grasping for air in the Western Conference playoff race.

With a trip to Philadelphia, things won't get any easier. The Union dominated Kansas City on Wednesday but failed to unlock the visitors' defense and settled for a scoreless draw. With that result still fresh in their minds, the Union players will surely be looking to break through and find the net early and often against the Goats.

FC DALLAS vs. PORTLAND TIMBERS (Saturday, 8:30 p.m., Direct Kick)

These teams' first meeting saw Portland take a 3-0 lead before two late goals from Dallas made it a race to the finish. But the final whistle blew  before Dallas could draw even, and the Timbers walked away with a 3-2 win.

Since that match, Dallas has been playing some of the best soccer in MLS. Brek Shea's dynamic play on the left flank has been a major factor in Dallas' fine form, which means Portland right back Jeremy Hall will need to turn in a standout performance Saturday.

SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (Saturday, 8:30 p.m., Direct Kick)

The two clubs find themselves at the bottom of their respective conference standings, but if recent results are any indication, they'll both be moving up the table sooner rather than later. Kansas City is 2-0-4 in its last six and plays 12 of its next 14 at home, while Vancouver has put together an encouraging 1-1-4 stretch.

With midfielder Graham Zusi questionable with an ankle sprain, Kansas City could again be without one of its hottest players. But the home-field advantage provided by Livestrong Sporting Park should help tilt the odds in its favor.

REAL SALT LAKE vs. TORONTO FC (Saturday, 9 p.m., Direct Kick)

The return of Alvaro Saborio from Gold Cup obligations and Jean Alexandre from suspension will be a welcome development for Salt Lake, which is coming off a 0-0 midweek draw with Chicago and has scored just two goals in its past three games.

Of course, having a home fixture against Toronto, a team that is winless in eight and has allowed a league-leading 26 goals, shouldn't hurt matters for Salt Lake. One storyline to follow going into the match is Toronto's health in central midfield, as Julian De Guzman, Tony Tchani and Nathan Sturgis are all listed as questionable.


After Greg Sutton's error-plagued performance in goal during New York's 4-2 loss at Seattle on Thursday, one has to think Red Bulls coach Hans Backe will turn back to Bouna Coundoul between the posts.

Although Thierry Henry is set to return from suspension for New York, the Red Bulls will still have to play Chicago without centerbacks Tim Ream and Rafael Marquez and forward Juan Agudelo, who will all be at the Rose Bowl on Saturday for the Gold Cup final.


New York may have been woefully shorthanded during its 4-2 loss to Seattle on Thursday, but the Sounders certainly did their part to earn to the win. With one loss in its past eight and a five-game unbeaten run, Seattle now has the second-highest point total in the league.

The Sounders will have a grand opportunity to add another three points Sunday when a struggling New England side comes to town. The probable return of midfielder Benny Feilhaber from an ankle sprain, however, could present problems for an inconsistent Sounders defense.

COLUMBUS CREW vs. COLORADO RAPIDS (Sunday, 8 p.m., Direct Kick)

The weekend schedule wraps up with a rematch of last fall's Eastern Conference playoff series that ended with a penalty kicks triumph for the Rapids. Although Colorado's Caleb Folan will be serving a red card suspension, the Rapids should be all right up top now that Conor Casey and Omar Cummings are both finally healthy.

Robbie Rogers' absence while on U.S. national team duty, along with injuries to Dilly Duka and Leandre Griffit, means rookie Bernardo Anor should get his second start for Columbus after impressing in his debut last week.


  1. LA’s the best team in the league right now, but I’m not sold on NY. They started hot, but they’ve been on the long road to the middle for awhile now.

    Miller and Ream are still young, but Taino, Henry, Marquez, Dero, Solli and Taino are all on the wrong side of 30 with Lindpere and Rodgers about to turn. That’s going to become more apparent on the business end of the season.

    There’s powerful forces that want NY to be a top team, but color me skeptical.

  2. Buut who is going to stop Camilo and Chumiento…Vancouver has an underrated squad. If they pick up a DP, they can be fantastic. SKC needs to scrap the 4-3-3…they don’t have the midfielders to run it.

  3. KC’s Collin served his YC suspension Wed vs. Philly. YO–WAKE UP! Collin vs. Hassli ought to be good. Collin held Lenhart scoreless after a hat trick the week before. Advantage: Collin.

  4. Don’t worry ZT, he’s just grumpy because his team can’t win on the road, and has recently forgotten how to win at home. When the wins stop, the tight-legged hipster jeans cause discomfort and create an irritable personality.

    But jokes aside, NY was clearly missing some big pieces. I’ll be interested to see how LA does this weekend without Donovan or Beckham.

  5. Typical Sounders fan.

    Henry/Agudelo/Ream/Marquez are light years better than Evans/Zakuani/White/Hurtado.

    Typical Sounders fan.

  6. Everyone seems to forget that the Sounders were missing 4 starters as well(Brad Evans, Steve Zakuani, O’Brien White, & JK Hurtado)in their match last night against NY Red Bulls. Sounders = Best Depth in MLS.


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