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Lots in play on busy MLS Wednesday
by Ridge Mahoney, July 29th, 2014 11:15PM

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TAGS:  mls

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[PREVIEW: Week 21] A Wednesday of four MLS matches makes up for the lightened schedule of four games last weekend, featuring five teams in the playoff tiers and two others that will crack the top five by winning. For the eighth team in action, its game has desperation written all over it.

UNITED LOOKS FOR SEPARATION. The only intraconference game matches D.C. United with Toronto FC at RFK Stadium (live at 7 p.m. on MLS Direct Kick), and though a win won’t edge D.C. past first-place Sporting Kansas City, it would open up a nine-point gap on third-place Toronto.

This is the third regular-season meeting. A Jermain Defoe goal decided the first one at BMO Field March 22 in favor of TFC, 1-0, which marked the first time since it joined MLS in 2007 it  had won its first two games of the season. United then went on a 7-3-4 run before running into TFC again at BMO Field July 5, and this time D.C. prevailed, 2-1.

In that game, Nick DeLeon and Perry Kitchen scored before and after a Luke Moore goal had briefly tied the game. Kitchen got his head to a Lewis Neal cross in the 70th minute to nail the winner. TFC finished the match with 10 men after rookie Nick Hagglund was sent off for dragging down Eddie Johnson on a breakaway.

D.C. sat out the league program last week. TFC comes into the match simmering over refereeing decisions in a 2-1 home loss to Sporting Kansas City that prompted some bitter criticisms from Michael Bradley and head coach Ryan Nelsen. There’s also frustration at play here; TFC has won just once in the last seven games.

RED BULLS ON THE BUBBLE. Fortunes in MLS can fluctuate wildly; case in point is San Jose, which won the 2012 Supporters Shield but failed to make the playoffs last year.

So far, the Red Bulls are treading on that same thin ice. The best record in 2013 hasn’t carried over to this season, as New York (5-6-9) is clinging to fifth place in the Eastern Conference and draws a tough road assignment at Real Salt Lake (live at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2).

RSL has seemingly shaken off the dull form that limited it to one victory in eight games from May 24 to July 19. Still, it didn’t put away the feeble Montreal Impact until the last 20 minutes in its 3-1 victory last weekend, and the final two goals by Olmes Garcia ended a personal year-long scoring drought. Though Joao Plata (eight goals) has picked up some of the scoring burden in the injury absence of Costa Rican international Alvaro Saborio, RSL is still searching for consistent production.

New York’s road record of 2-4-5 doesn’t inspire much confidence, but so far in 2014 it has been very much a hit-or-miss team. It holds just a slim one-point lead for the final playoff spot over New England, which has lost eight straight games. Hard to believe, but true.

If the Red Bulls don’t win, the floundering Revs would move into the playoff tier by beating Colorado at Gillette Stadium (live at 7:30 p.m ET on MLS Direct Kick). The Rapids are coming off an emotional 3-0 defeat of Chivas USA before which head coach Pablo Mastroeni was inducted into the team’s Gallery of Honor. A letdown is possible, and New England certainly needs something to reverse its season.

Sixth-place Vancouver has played two more games than the fifth-place Galaxy, so though the ‘Caps have won only two of 10 road games this season, they’d best go for the three points at Chicago (live at 8:30 p.m. on MLS Direct Kick). The Fire players have had a full week to think about the 5-1 lashing San Jose inflicted last week, and they are four points out of the playoff group, so this game has desperation written all over it.

MLS WEEK 21, Results:
Monday, July 28
Seattle 0 LA Galaxy 3.
LA: Gyasi Zardes (Landon Donovan, Marcelo Sarvas) 8
LA: Landon Donovan 18
LA: Stefan Ishizaki (Marcelo Sarvas, Landon Donovan) 36
Att.: 39,304.



MLS WEEK 21: Schedule:
Wednesday, July 30
7 pm ET
D.C. United vs. Toronto FC
7:30 pm ET
New England vs. Colorado
8:30 pm ET
Chicago vs. Vancouver
9 pm ET
Real Salt Lake vs. New York, ESPN2, WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes
Friday, August 1
8 pm ET
Sporting KC vs. Philadelphia, NBCSN
Saturday, August 2
2:30 pm ET
LA Galaxy vs. Portland, NBC
5 pm ET
Montreal vs. Toronto FC
7 pm ET
New York vs. New England
8:30 pm ET
Chicago vs. Columbus
9 pm ET
Colorado vs. Real Salt Lake
10:30 pm ET
San Jose vs. Seattle, NBCSN
Sunday, August 3
8 pm ET
Houston vs. D.C. United, UDN
10 pm ET
Chivas USA vs. FC Dallas

MLS Standings:
EASTERN CONFERENCE
PTS TEAM W-L-T GF/GA
38 Sporting KC 11-5-5 31/19
34 D.C. United 10-5-4 29/20
26 Toronto FC 7-6-5 27/25
26 Columbus 6-7-8 25/27
24 New York 5-6-9 32/31
------------------------------------------------
23 New England 7-11-2 25/33
23 Philadelphia 5-8-8 33/35
20 Chicago 3-5-11 27/33
19 Houston 5-11-4 22/40
14 Montreal 3-12-5 21/37

WESTERN CONFERENCE
PTS TEAM W-L-T GF/GA
38 Seattle 12-5-2 35/27
32 Real Salt Lake 8-4-8 31/26
30 LA Galaxy 8-4-6 29/16
30 Colorado 8-6-6 31/24
30 FC Dallas 8-7-6 34/31
------------------------------------------------
28 Vancouver 6-4-10 31/29
27 Portland 6-6-9 35/35
23 Chivas USA 6-9-5 21/33
20 San Jose 5-8-5 22/20
------------------------------------------------
MLS: Leading Scorers
G PLAYER, TEAM
17 Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York
14 Erick Torres, Chivas USA
14 Dom Dwyer, Sporting KC
11 Jermain Defoe, Toronto FC
10 Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy
9 Clint Dempsey, Seattle
8 Obafemi Martins, Seattle
8 Sebastien Le Toux, Philadelphia
8 Joao Plata, Real Salt Lake

MLS WEEK 22: Schedule:
Wednesday, August 6  
9:30 pm ET
MLS All-Stars vs. Bayern Munich, ESPN2, UniMas
Friday, August 8   
10:30 pm ET
LA Galaxy vs. San Jose, NBCSN
Saturday, August 9
7 pm ET
Philadelphia vs. Montreal
7:30 pm ET
Columbus vs. Toronto FC
9 pm ET
FC Dallas vs. Colorado
10 pm ET
Real Salt Lake vs. D.C. United
10:30 pm ET
Portland vs. Chivas USA
Sunday, August 10
8 pm ET
Chicago vs. New York, UDN
Vancouver vs. Sporting KC
10:30 pm ET
Seattle vs. Houston, ESPN2, WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes

MLS WEEK 23: Schedule:
Friday, August 15
9 pm ET
Houston vs. Philadelphia, NBCSN
Saturday, August 16
2:30 pm ET
Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle, NBCSN
6:30 pm ET
Montreal vs. Chicago
7:30 pm ET
Columbus vs. LA Galaxy
New England vs. Portland
8:30 pm ET
Sporting KC vs. Toronto FC
10:30 pm ET
Chivas USA vs. Vancouver
San Jose vs. FC Dallas
Sunday, August 17
8 pm ET
D.C. United vs. Colorado, UDN


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