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Important games on tap for Montreal and Portland
by Ridge Mahoney, June 18th, 2013 5:28PM
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[MLS SCHEDULE: Week 17] The surprise teams of the season so far face tough tests Wednesday as MLS kicks off a busy week with four league matches.

Eastern Conference leader Montreal (8-3-2) hosts Houston (6-4-4), which has represented the East in the last two MLS Cup championship games, and surging Portland (6-1-8) -- unbeaten in 13 matches -- takes on the two-time defending champion Galaxy (6-6-2) at the renamed StubHub Center (formerly Home Depot Center).

With the season approaching the halfway mark, and head coaches juggling lineups because of international callups as well as injuries and suspensions, these are statement games for those teams looking to unseat the traditional powers. The Timbers were strengthened last weekend by the return from international duty of Jamaican internationals Donovan Ricketts and Ryan Johnson, who both played in their 1-0 defeat of Western Conference leader FC Dallas.

Houston is locked in a three-way tie for third place and is four points back of the Impact; Los Angeles has lost two in a row but is 4-1-1 at home as it readies for the Timbers, which have yet to lose on the road this season (2-0-6).

Dynamo midfielder Oscar Boniek Garcia is in Utah to play for Honduras in its Hexagonal match against the USA, though his status is affected by minor injuries he’s carrying. The Galaxy could field former U.S. international midfielder Pablo Mastroeni, who trained with the team Monday after arriving in a trade from Colorado.

In other games, Vancouver (5-5-4) hosts Chivas USA (3-8-2) and Colorado (5-5-5) plays at Chicago (3-7-3). The Rapids are tied with the Galaxy for fifth place. Both teams have 20 points, and Vancouver is just a point behind them in seventh.

A statement game by Designated Player Kenny Miller propelled the Whitecaps to a 4-3 triumph over New England. Miller’s time earned him Player of the Week honors for a pair of spectacular goals and a penalty kick won. After going seven games without a victory, the ‘Caps have won three of their last five and will be heavy favorites to prevail against a floundering foe.

The Rapids played most of their 2-1 loss to San Jose Saturday down to 10 men following the dismissal of Atiba Harris for a crude foul, but despite going down by two goals pushed the Quakes hard in the second half. Nathan Sturgis, whose strong midfield play helped pave the way for Mastroeni’s departure, scored with a header and an attack revived by two players recovering from injuries, Martin Rivero and Jaime Castrillon, nearly notched an equalizer.

Former Rapid midfielder Jeff Larentowicz faces his former team for the first time since being traded to the Fire for the No. 11 SuperDraft pick last January and allocation money. Colorado used the pick on midfielder Dillon Powers, who has scored two goals and registered one assist in his 14 appearances (13 starts).
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MLS STANDINGS:
Eastern Conference:
PTS TEAM W-L-T +/-

26 Montreal 8-3-2 22/17
25 New York 7-5-4 23/19
22 Houston 6-3-4 19/14
22 Philadelphia 6-5-4 22/24
20 New England 5-5-5 18/13
-----------------------------
20 Columbus 5-5-5 18/16
19 Sporting KC 5-5-4 18/13
12 Chicago 3-7-3 11/19
11 Toronto FC 2-7-5 13/20
6 D.C. United 1-11-3 7/26

Western Conference:
PTS TEAM W-L-T +/-

28 FC Dallas 8-3-4 23/18
27 Real Salt Lake 8-5-3 24/16
26 Portland 6-1-8 25/16
21 Seattle 6-4-3 19/15
20 LA Galaxy 6-6-2 22/18
-------------------------------
20 Colorado 5-5-5 16/14
19 Vancouver 5-5-4  22/23
18 San Jose 4-6-6 15/24
11 Chivas USA 3-8-2 13/26
------------------------------------------------------------
MLS LEADING SCORERS:
G PLAYER (TEAM)
10 Jack McInerney (Philadelphia)
9 Marco Di Vaio (Montreal)
8 Mike Magee (Los Angeles/Chicago)
7 Dominic Oduro (Columbus)
7 Claudio Bieler (Sporting KC)
6 Robert Earnshaw (Toronto FC)
6 Camilo (Vancouver)
6 Thierry Henry (New York)
5 Kenny Miller (Vancouver)
5 Darlington Nagbe (Portland)
5 Diego Fagundez (New England)
5 Will Johnson (Portland)
5 Robbie Keane (Los Angeles)
5 Blas Perez (FC Dallas)
5 Chris Wondolowski (San Jose)

MLS SCHEDULE, Week 17:
Wednesday, June 19
8 pm ET
Montreal vs. Houston
8:30 pm ET
Chicago vs. Colorado
10 pm ET
Vancouver vs. Chivas USA
10:30 pm ET
LA Galaxy vs. Portland

Saturday, June 22
7 pm ET
D.C. United vs. San Jose
8 pm ET
Columbus vs. Chicago
8:30 pm ET
FC Dallas vs. Sporting KC
9 pm ET
Houston vs. Toronto FC
9:30 pm ET
Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle

Sunday, June 23
5 pm ET
Philadelphia vs. New York, ESPN
7 pm ET
Portland vs. Colorado, NBCSN
11 pm ET
Chivas USA vs. LA Galaxy, UniMas

MLS SCHEDULE, Week 18:
Saturday, June 29
1 pm ET
Toronto FC vs. Real Salt Lake
5:30 pm ET
Philadelphia vs. FC Dallas, NBCSN
7 pm ET
Montreal vs. Colorado, Univision Dep.
D.C. United vs. Vancouver
8:30 pm ET
Sporting KC vs. Columbus
10:30 pm ET
San Jose vs. LA Galaxy (at Stanford Stadium)
Chivas USA vs. New England

Sunday, June 30
2 pm ET
New York vs. Houston, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPN Deportes


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