Photo by USA Today Sports
By RYAN TOLMICH
As the playoff race intensifies, MLS boasts a trio of midweek contests with one of the league’s oldest and fiercest rivalries taking center stage.
With years of history between the two sides, the New York Red Bulls and D.C. United enter the weekend at the opposite ends of the playoff spectrum. The Red Bulls will need a victory to keep pace in their fight for the postseason, while D.C. United enter Wednesday’s clash aiming to continue their resurgence towards Supporters’ Shield contention.
In addition to the action at Red Bull Arena, Western Conference contenders LA Galaxy visit the Montreal Impact, while the Vancouver Whitecaps look to continue their playoff push against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Here is a rundown of the Week 27 midweek slate:
MONTREAL IMPACT vs. LA GALAXY (Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., MLS Direct Kick)
With just eight regular season games remaining, the LA Galaxy find themselves in the thick of a Supporters’ Shield race.
In the midst of a five-game winning streak that has seen the team thump the opposition by a combined scoreline of 19-5, the Galaxy will look to push their streak to six Wednesday in a trip to Stade Saputo to take on the Impact.
Despite sitting in the basement of the Eastern Conference, the Impact have improved in recent weeks, scoring six goals over the past three contests. However, the Impact have emerged from those games with just three points, as the Canadian side will need to step up on the defensive end if it hopes to put together a strong finish to their season.
The Galaxy are sure to test that defensive resolve in their quest for the league’s best record, as Landon Donovan and company sit just two points behind the Seattle Sounders in the standings. With a playoff position all but locked up, the Galaxy will look to continue to ride their wave of scoring by Donovan, Robbie Keane and Gyassi Zardes.
NEW YORK RED BULLS vs. D.C. UNITED ( Wednesday, 8 p.m., ESPN 2)
As one of the league’s most historic rivalries, the New York Red Bulls and D.C. United always enter their meetings with plenty of motivation and fire. Just 10 days after their most recent clash, Wednesday’s meeting is sure to provide something extra, as both sides chase their respective goals.
The Red Bulls enter Wednesday’s clash in virtual must-win territory due to the crowding of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Sitting just two points out of the fifth and final playoff spot with a game in hand, the Red Bulls play each of their next four games against teams currently playoff-bound.
D.C. United won their most recent meeting with the Red Bulls, 2-0, on Aug. 31 behind goals from Luis Silva and Eddie Johnson. Sitting five points ahead of Sporting Kansas City with a game in hand, D.C. United have taken a firm hold of the Eastern Conference and can now turn their gaze towards the league’s top spot as just four points separate D.C. United and the Sounders at the top of the MLS table.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS vs. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (Wednesday, 10 p.m., MLS Direct Kick)
Despite going through a damning stretch of back-to-back losses to close out August, the Vancouver Whitecaps are still very much alive in the Western Conference.
After going six straight games unbeaten, the Whitecaps closed out August by suffering with a pair of backbreaking losses to the LA Galaxy and Portland Timbers, the latter of which has since leapfrogged the Whitecaps for the conference’s final playoff spot. Entering Wednesday a point adrift — but with a game in hand — the Whitecaps will have to continue the recovery that began last week with a hard earned point from D.C. United.
That road continues Wednesday against the San Jose Earthquakes who, on paper, look to be the perfect bounce back opponent. However, having nicked a point off the Timbers last time out, the Earthquakes are no pushover. Chris Wondolowski continues to terrorize every team put in his path, including two goals against the Timbers.
Where do you see the Galaxy finishing the regular season? Are the Red Bulls or Whitecaps a going to make the playoffs? Where do you rank D.C. United amongst the league’s best? How do you see Wednesday’s action unfolding?
Share your thoughts below.