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Three MLS games to watch
by Ridge Mahoney, July 10th, 2014 10:37PM

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[PREVIEW: Week 18] Eastern Conference leader D.C. United gets another chance to prove it is for real when it plays at San Jose Friday (live at 10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) in the first of two nationally televised games this weekend that concludes Sunday night when Seattle hosts Portland (live at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2). In between, the LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake wind up their season series -- already -- when they meet Saturday at StubHub Center.

WONDO WILL BE WELCOME RETURN. The Quakes (4-7-4, 16 points) are last in the West and have lost three straight, including a 1-0 home loss to Chivas USA a week ago Wednesday.

San Jose head coach Mark Watson kept the same starting XI as that which took the field four days earlier at Stanford Stadium, where a crowd of 50,006 watched the Galaxy prevail, 1-0, and got the same result. Watson did push Khari Stephenson from midfield to forward as a partner for Steven Lenhart, and also brought on striker Alan Gordon as a sub, but the attack lacking Chris Wondolowski couldn’t produce a goal.

Wondo will be back in the lineup Friday and perhaps he can lift San Jose out of its mire; no goals in 315 minutes. The anemic attack explains why a team that has conceded only six goals in the past eight games has lost four of them.

By now D.C. (8-5-4, 28 points) has erased most memories of the dismal doormat it was last year when it won three games, and it heads toward the midpoint of the season in first place. Only Seattle, at 2.05 points per game, is doing better than United at 1.65. With regular playing time, midfielder Luis Silva is flourishing; in a fourth consecutive start last weekend, he earned his first assist of the season in a 2-1 defeat of Toronto FC. He’s also scored a hat trick during the string of starts.

RANCOROUS RENEWAL. The LA Galaxy (5-3-6, 21 pts.) and Real Salt Lake (7-3-7, 28 pts.) wind up their season series at a relatively early juncture Saturday (10:30 p.m., MLS Direct Kick) at StubHub Center and considering they also played twice within four days last November during the playoffs, some testiness wouldn’t be a surprise.

The Galaxy blew a 1-0 lead by surrendering two goals in three minutes to Portland last weekend before rallying to tie, 2-2, with an own goal. RSL got back on track by beating New England, 2-1, but both goals came off penalty kicks and it is still struggling to regain the early-season form that included a 1-1 tie and 1-0 victory against the Galaxy in March. The defeat of the Revs snapped a five-game winless streak and marked the return of Nick Rimando and Kyle Beckerman.

SEA OF GREEN AT C-LINK. Sounders officials are hoping that a viewing party for the World Cup final that precedes a Cascadia Cup clash with Portland Sunday (live at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2) will yield a full-capacity sellout of about 67,000.

The teams have already played this week in the U.S. Open Cup, with the Sounders winning, 3-1, in extra time after Portland’s Darlington Nagbe hit an equalizer in stoppage time to match a strike by Osvaldo Alonso. Timbers midfielder Diego Chara was sent off in the first period of extra time and after the teams changed ends Kenny Cooper and Marco Pappa scored for Seattle, which sent out DeAndre Yedlin to start and play 90 minutes in his first post-World Cup appearance

As in the case of RSL and the Galaxy, these rivals met in last year’s playoffs, though this is their second regular-season meeting. In the first encounter on April 5, the Timbers blew a two-goal during an amazing game that ended, 4-4. Perhaps that portended what was to follow; the Timbers, who played 15 draws last year, have tied one-half of their games this season (4-5-9).

Seattle (11-4-2) lost last weekend, 1-0, to Vancouver yet still the Sounders have won four of the last six games. Injuries, fatigue and suspensions deprived them of five starters against the Whitecaps; they should be at or near full strength against Portland as they attempt to win a regular-season game against a Northwest rival for the first time this year.

MLS WEEK 18, Schedule:
Friday, July 11

11 p.m. ET
San Jose vs. D.C. United, NBCSN
Saturday, July 12
7 p.m. ET
Toronto FC vs. Houston
Philadelphia vs. Colorado
New York vs. Columbus
7:30 p.m. ET
New England vs. Chicago
Montreal vs. Sporting KC
10 p.m. ET
Vancouver vs. Chivas USA
10:30 p.m. ET
LA Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake
Sunday, July 13
10 p.m. ET
Seattle vs. Portland, ESPN2

MLS Standings:
EASTERN CONFERENCE
PTS TEAM W-L-T GF/GA
28 D.C. United 8-5-4 24/18
26 Sporting KC 7-5-5 23/15
23 New England 7-7-2 23/23
21 Toronto FC 6-5-3 19/18
20 New York 4-5-8 26/26
------------------------------------------------
20 Columbus 4-5-8 19/19
18 Houston 5-10-3 18/34
18 Philadelphia 4-8-6 26/30
16 Chicago 2-4-10 24/27
14 Montreal 3-8-5 16/27

WESTERN CONFERENCE
PTS TEAM W-L-T GF/GA
35 Seattle 11-4-2 33/24
28 Real Salt Lake 7-3-7 27/23
26 Colorado 7-5-5 24/19
26 FC Dallas 7-7-5 30/29
25 Vancouver 6-3-7 26/22
------------------------------------------------
21 LA Galaxy 5-3-6 19/13
21 Portland 4-5-9 30/30
20 Chivas USA 5-7-5 17/26
16 San Jose 4-7-4 15/16
------------------------------------------------
MLS: Leading Scorers
G PLAYER, TEAM
14 Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York
12 Erick Torres, Chivas USA
12 Dom Dwyer, Sporting KC
8 Jermain Defoe, Toronto FC
8 Obafemi Martins, Seattle
8 Clint Dempsey, Seattle
7 Joao Plata, Ecuador
7 Jack McInerney, Montreal
7 Fabian Espindola, D.C. United
7 Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy

MLS WEEK 19, Schedule:
Wednesday, July 16
7 p.m. ET
Philadelphia vs. New York, ESPN2
7:30 p.m. ET
Columbus vs. Sporting KC
8 p.m. ET
Toronto FC vs. Vancouver
10:30 p.m. ET
LA Galaxy vs. New England
Friday, July 18
11 p.m. ET
Portland vs. Colorado, NBCSN
Saturday, July 19
6 p.m. ET
Sporting KC vs. LA Galaxy, ESPN2
7 p.m. ET
New York vs. San Jose
7:30 p.m. ET
Columbus vs. Montreal
8:30 p.m. ET
Chicago vs. Philadelphia
9 p.m. ET
FC Dallas vs. New England
Houston vs. Toronto FC
10 p.m. ET
Real Salt Lake vs. Vancouver
Sunday, July 20
8 p.m. ET
D.C. United vs. Chivas USA, UDN


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