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Three MLS games to watch
by Ridge Mahoney, July 18th, 2014 12:38AM

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[PREVIEW: Week 19] The lone matchup this season of the last two MLS Cup champions highlights a full slate of games during which only Supporters’ Shield leader Seattle won’t play. (The Sounders are hosting English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur Saturday.) Sporting Kansas City hosts the Galaxy Saturday, a day after a nationally televised Friday nighter between Portland and Colorado. Two teams just barely in the playoff tiers also square off Saturday when FC Dallas hosts New England.

RAPID REVERSAL.
Last season, Colorado finished fifth in the Western Conference to sneak into the playoffs, yet it amassed just six fewer points than first-place Portland. Heading into their meeting Friday (live at 11 p.m. ET on NBCSN) at Providence Park, they are again six points apart, but it’s the Timbers looking up at the Rapids.

Colorado is locked in a four-way jam behind the runaway Sounders, just a point behind second-place Real Salt Lake but also just a point in front of fifth-place FC Dallas. With only one win in its last six games, the eighth-place Timbers need results such as the 1-0 and 3-0 scorelines by which it beat the Rapids at home last year.

The Rapids will be missing Vicente Sanchez, Nick LaBrocca and Shane O’Neill because of suspension but are facing a Timbers team that is conceding an average of two goals per home game, and has just win in 10 matches at Providence Park. Sanchez and Deshorn Brown scored the goals when Colorado beat Portland, 2-0, March 22 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Timbers are winless in their last four after losing to archrival Seattle, 2-0, Sunday night. 

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE. Two teams in excellent form and playing stingy defense face off Saturday (live on 6 p.m. ET on ESPN2) when the Galaxy plays SKC at Sporting Park. Los Angeles is 5-0-3 in its last eight games; the host is 4-0-1 in the last five. Both teams are conceding an average of less than a goal per game and are the league’s only teams bearing that distinction.

Gyasi Zardes scored twice Wednesday in a 5-1 pummeling of the Revs but he had to take second chair behind Robbie Keane. The Irishman scored two goals and assisted on two others to increase his seasonal total to nine and six, respectively. He leads the 2011 and 2012 league champions in both categories and against the Revs made up for the recent tepid form of Landon Donovan, who came on at halftime.

“We certainly have the confidence in the team now with the players that can go on and win games,” Keane told the Galaxy’s Web site. “I think you’ve seen the old Galaxy team -- passing, dribbling the ball, creating chances for people -- and that’s the way we like to play.”

C.J. Sapong and Benny Feilhaber scored the goals in SKC’s last game, a 2-1 win at Columbus that was its fourth straight road win. Feilhaber served up the corner kick by which Sapong scored his first goal of the season before smashing a shot off the underside of the crossbar in the 93rd minute, the ninth goal SKC has scored this season in or after the 76th minute.

SKC played a man down from the 55th minute following a red card issued to defender Aurelien Collin, who will be suspended for the Galaxy game unless the club’s appeal is upheld. Collin challenged for a high ball with Adam Bedell and accidentally struck the Crew midfielder in the face with his arm.

REELING REVS. Having straightened out a few of its problems, FC Dallas hosts a team in desperate need of solutions when it plays New England Saturday (live at 9 p.m. ET on MLS Live). A balanced attack seems to be working. Three players – Blas Perez, Michel, and Fabian Castillo – are tied for the team lead with five goals, and impressive rookie Tesho Akindele scored his second goal of the season two weeks ago in a 2-1 defeat of Philadelphia.

FCD is tied for fifth place in the Western Conference with Vancouver; New England and New York are the fourth-place teams in the East. Losers of six straight, the Revs have also lost midfielder Andy Dorman to a strained MCL suffered last weekend against Chicago. He’s probably out until the start of October.

In the last four league games, FC Dallas has won two and tied two, so its roller-coaster season is in a relatively stable period. It hasn’t played a league match beating Philly on the Fourth of July, though it romped over Carolina, 5-2, in the Open Cup five days later. The latter victory extended its winning streak in all competitions to seven games.

MLS WEEK 19, Schedule:
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

MLS WEEK 19, Results:
Wednesday, July 16
LA Galaxy 5 New England 1.
LA: Robbie Keane (Baggio Husidic) 10
LA: Gyasi Zardes (Robbie Keane, Stefan Ishizaki) 18
NE: Lee Nguyen pen. 38
LA: Gyasi Zardes (Robbie Keane) 48
LA: Stefan Ishizaki 75
LA: Robbie Keane 78
Red Cards: LA -- Dan Gargan 36; NE -- A.J. Soares 29.
Att.: 17,717.
 
Philadelphia 3 New York 1
PHL: Conor Casey (Andrew Wenger) 9.
PHL: Fred (Conor Casey, Sheanon Williams) 51.
NY: Bradley Wright-Phillips (Thierry Henry, Ambroise Oyongo) 60.
PHL: Sebastien Le Toux pen. 69.
Att.: 18,541.



Columbus 1 Sporting KC 2

SKC: C.J. Sapong (Benny Feilhaber) 42.
CLB: Igor Juliao (own goal) 69.
SKC: Benny Feilhaber (Jacob Peterson, Igor Juliao) 90+3.
Red Cards: SKC -- Aurelien Collin 59; CLB -- Wil Trapp 89.
Att.: 13,643.

Toronto FC 1 Vancouver 1
VAN: Darren Mattocks (Russell Teibert, Pedro Morales) 50.
TFC: Jermain Defoe pen. 64.
Att.: 22,591.

MLS Standings:
EASTERN CONFERENCE
PTS TEAM W-L-T GF/GA
32 Sporting KC 9-5-5 27/17
31 D.C. United 9-5-4 26/19
25 Toronto FC 7-5-4 24/21
23 New England 7-9-2 24/249
23 New York 5-6-8 31/30
------------------------------------------------
22 Philadelphia 5-8-7 32/34
20 Columbus 4-7-8 21/25
19 Chicago 3-4-10 25/27
18 Houston 5-11-3 20/38
14 Montreal 3-9-5 17/29

WESTERN CONFERENCE
PTS TEAM W-L-T GF/GA
38 Seattle 12-4-2 35/24
28 Real Salt Lake 7-4-7 27/24
27 LA Galaxy 7-3-6 25/14
27 Colorado 7-5-6 27/22
26 FC Dallas 7-7-5 30/29
------------------------------------------------
26 Vancouver 6-4-8 28/26
23 Chivas USA 6-7-5 20/27
21 Portland 4-6-9 30/302
16 San Jose 4-8-4 16/18
------------------------------------------------
MLS: Leading Scorers
G PLAYER, TEAM
16+1 Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York
14 Dom Dwyer, Sporting KC
13 Erick Torres, Chivas USA
11+1 Jermain Defoe, Toronto FC
9+2 Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy
9 Clint Dempsey, Seattle
8 Obafemi Martins, Seattle
7+1 Sebastien Le Toux, Philadelphia
7 Joao Plata, Real Salt Lake
7 Jack McInerney, Montreal
7 Fabian Espindola, D.C. United


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