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Three MLS games to watch
by Ridge Mahoney, May 22nd, 2014 11:29PM

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[PREVIEW: Week 12] Normally, even though Sporting Kansas City and Toronto FC are deprived of their national team players, a matchup of these Eastern Conference teams would be intriguing to kick off the 12th weekend of league play.

The news of Landon Donovan’s exclusion from the USA World Cup roster will dominate the soccer news for the next few days, during which nine league matches are scheduled. The list of absentees for this Friday night affair is not of the same magnitude, but significant: Graham Zusi, Matt Besler and Lawrence Olum are missing for SKC; Toronto FC is without Michael Bradley and Julio Cesar.

SKC has won the last five meetings between the teams and has never lost to TFC at Sporting Park, but has dropped its last two league matches and without Besler and Olum is woefully short of centerbacks . Teenager Erik Palmer-Brown was sent off in his debut Wednesday, a 2-1 loss to Chicago, a game that Aurelien Collin sat out with a strained hamstring.

Coach Peter Vermes went with a three-man back line against the Fire and might have to ask for volunteers to man the back against Toronto, which didn’t play in midweek and is coming off a 2-0 defeat of New York that snapped a three-game league losing streak.

Bradley Orr took over for Bradley in central midfield and set up Jermain Defoe for the first TFC goal with a midfield steal and precise diagonal pass. Defoe’s goal, his fourth of the season, ended a personal drought that extended back to March 22. Joe Bendik took over for Julio Cesar got the shutout in goal.

Though SKC has lost its last two, Dom Dwyer scored in both games and leads the team in goals with eight.

WILL HE OR WON’T HE? Donovan’s departure from the USA camp opens up the possibility he will play for the Galaxy at home against Philadelphia Sunday night, which adds to another long list of woes for the Union.

Philly took a 5-3 cuffing from New England last weekend at PPL Park, and needed to score the last two goals to cut down an embarrassing scoreline. It is scrambling for results  -- one win and only seven points in the last 11 games -- and concerns it is already slipping too far out of the playoff tier.

The Galaxy put forth perhaps its best overall effort of the season Wednesday while beating FC Dallas, 2-1, with Gyasi Zardes leading the way by setting up Robbie Keane for the first goal and heading home the second himself from a Juninho cross. But it did concede a goal midway through the second half and keeper Jamie Penedo weathered a few shaky moments while also pulling off a couple of good saves. Midfielder Kenney Walker was strong in the first half but his second-half giveaway led to the FCD goal.

CASCADIA CLASH. Can it really be seven weeks since the last regular-season Northwest showdown?

That 4-4 tie in Portland instantly took its place among the best Timbers-Sounders games in league history, and Seattle travels to Vancouver this weekend without Clint Dempsey but sitting atop the Western Conference as well as the overall standings. Since that tie in Portland, they have won six of their last seven and aside from a 5-0 thumping administered by New England a week and a half ago have been the most impressive team in MLS.

The Whitecaps are in fourth place and could be a little rusty; they sat out league play last weekend after being nudged out of the Amway Canadian Championship by TFC May 14. They are unbeaten in their last four league games and also have a Cascadia Cup match (at Portland) next weekend. Darren Mattocks has been hobbled by a strained hamstring since early May and is unlikely to make the game-day roster.

MLS WEEK 12, Results:
Wednesday, May 21
D.C. United 2 Houston 0.
DC: Chris Rolfe (Fabian Espindola) 28
DC: Fabian Espindola (Chris Rolfe) 63
Att.: 8,224.



LA Galaxy 2 FC Dallas 1.
LA: Robbie Keane (Gyasi Zardes) 24
LA: Gyasi Zardes (Juninho) 44
DAL: Tesho Akindele (Jair Benitez) 65

MLS WEEK 12, Schedule:
Friday, May 23
8:30 pm ET
Sporting KC vs. Toronto FC, MLS LIVE, UDN
Saturday, May 24
7 pm ET
Vancouver vs. Seattle, MLS LIVE
New York vs. Portland, MLS LIVE
7:30 pm ET
Columbus vs. Chicago, MLS LIVE
New England vs. D.C. United, MLS LIVE
9 pm ET
Colorado vs. Montreal, MLS LIVE
9:30 pm ET
Real Salt Lake vs. FC Dallas, MLS LIVE
Sunday, May 25
8 pm ET
LA Galaxy vs. Philadelphia, UDN
10:30 pm ET
San Jose vs. Houston

MLS Standings:
EASTERN CONFERENCE
PTS TEAM W-L-T GF/GA
20 New England 6-3-2 19/13
18 D.C. United 5-3-3 16/12
17 Sporting KC 5-4-2 16/10
17 Houston 5-6-2 18/21
14 New York 3-4-5 18/19
------------------------------------------------
13 Columbus 3-4-4 13/14
12 Toronto FC 4-4-0 9/9
12 Chicago 2-2-6 19/17
11 Philadelphia 2-6-5 15/20
7 Montreal 1-5-4 8/18

WESTERN CONFERENCE
PTS TEAM W-L-T GF/GA
25 Seattle 8-3-1 23/19
23 Real Salt Lake 6-0-5 23/13
17 FC Dallas 5-6-2 22/22
16 Vancouver 4-2-4 16/12
15 Colorado 4-4-3 12/14
------------------------------------------------
12 LA Galaxy 3-3-3 10/8
10 San Jose 2-4-4 10/12
10 Chivas USA 2-5-4 13/20
10 Portland 1-3-7 16/19
------------------------------------------------
MLS: Leading Scorers
G PLAYER, TEAM
9 Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York
8 Dom Dwyer, Sporting KC
8 Erick Torres, Chivas USA
8 Clint Dempsey, Seattle
6+1 Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy
6 Federico Higuain, Columbus
6 Joao Plata
, Real Salt Lake
6 Will Bruin, Houston
6 Alvaro Saborio, Real Salt Lake

MLS WEEK 13, Schedule:
Tuesday, May 27
8 pm ET
Sporting KC vs. New York, ESPN2, WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes
Wednesday, May 28
10:30 pm ET
Chivas USA vs. Portland, MLS LIVE
Saturday, May 31
4 pm ET
Seattle vs. Real Salt Lake, MLS LIVE
5 pm ET
Toronto FC vs. Columbus, MLS LIVE
7 pm ET
Montreal vs. New England, MLS LIVE
D.C. United vs. Sporting KC, MLS LIVE
8:30 pm ET
FC Dallas vs. San Jose, MLS LIVE, UDN
10:30 pm ET
Chivas USA vs. Philadelphia, MLS LIVE



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