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Possible Jones debut and RFK rumble on tap
by Ridge Mahoney, August 29th, 2014 1:38AM
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[MLS: Three Games to Watch] The possible debut of USA midfielder Jermaine Jonesin a New England jersey and an RFK rumble between D.C. United and the Red Bulls highlight the weekend's action. A few more rivalry games and what looks to be a derby mismatch will reshape the postseason picture as MLS enters the final two months of its regular season.

Only Philadelphia, which thumped San Jose, 4-2, on Wednesday, takes a break as eight of nine games involve intraconference foes, which will be the case most of the time until the season ends Oct. 26.

JONESING FOR JERMAINE.The scenario is set up perfectly for a showdown between USA teammates Michael Bradley and Jones when Toronto hosts New England (5 p.m. ET, MLS Live/Direct Kick) but would head coach Jay Heaps risk the franchise’s most expensive signing on just a few days’ training?

Starting with his first training session and media availability Tuesday, Jones has confirmed that his fierce persona is driven by team success, not individual accomplishments.

“They have good players in the side, really young, and we will see what happens,” Jones said. “I’ll try to be one of these leaders, but not only me. We need the team and the team has to be in front.”

Third-place TFC is just three points in front of sixth-place New England, which pulled off a 2-1 victory in its last visit to BMO Field May 3. TFC squandered a 1-0 lead provided when a shot by Jackson bounced into the Revs’ net off the foot of defender A.J. Soares. New England rallied behind a spirited effort from rookie Patrick Mullins, who scored the equalizer and then drew the penalty kick when his shot hit the upraised arm of defender Doniel Henry. Top scorer Lee Nguyen (nine goals) put away the penalty kick.

TFC’s back line has been weakened by a strained quadriceps suffered by Steven Caldwell, who aggravated the injury last weekend in a 2-2 tie with Chicago, and a pulled hamstring that forced Justin Morrow off the field in the same game. Canadian international Ashtone Morgan, who was displaced at left back when Morrow arrived in a trade from San Jose last winter, could reclaim his spot. Morgan hasn’t played a league match since appearing as a substitute in the season opener March 15. Henry and Nick Hagglund are among the candidates to replace Caldwell.

Both teams are 2-3-1 in their last six games and both have conceded 36 goals, figures with which neither head coach, Toronto's Ryan Nelsen nor Heaps, is pleased. Jones can shore up the Revs’ resilience if he gets the opportunity.

SECOND TIME AROUND. D.C. and New York play the second game of their three-game series Sunday (2:30 p.m., NBCSN) at RFK, just 11 days before their head-to-head finale on Sept. 10.

Davy Arnaud’s goal gave United a 1-0 victory in the first game April 12. That defeat dropped the Red Bulls’ record to 0-2-4; since then, they are 7-5-6 and clinging to the fifth and final playoff spot, just one point ahead of the Revs. They beat Salvadoran club FAS, 2-0, on Tuesday, and last weekend obliterated Montreal, 4-2. MLS leading scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips upped his seasonal total to 20 goals and Thierry Henryalso notched a pair. Henry is the team’s assist leader with 11 and in recent weeks has worn the look of someone who senses crunch time has arrived.

United’s lofty status as Eastern Conference leader and Supporters’ Shield contender took a 4-1 beating at the hands of Los Angeles Wednesday at StubHub Center. Chris Rolfe didn’t play; Fabian Espindola and Nick DeLeon came off the bench. Seems like head coach Ben Olsen was stocking up for Sunday.

In its last two home league games, United has outscored Colorado and Toronto FC by combined scores of 7-2. United’s 8-2-3 home record is third-best in MLS.

REELING RAPIDS.Both Seattle and Vancouver play at home Saturday, and before the ‘Caps welcome Portland (10: 30 p.m., MLS Live/Direct Kick) for another dose of Cascadia Cup insanity, Colorado takes its fading postseason prospects to Seattle (4 p.m., MLS Live/Direct Kick).

Losers of five straight, the Rapids have dropped out of the playoff tier and trail the fifth-place Whitecaps by three points. The last two meetings, both of which have also been played at CenturyLink Field, have been won by Seattle, 4-1, and 2-0.

Seattle’s 4-2 dismantling of Portland last weekend moved it atop the Western Conference and the Supporters’ Shield standings, though it was just their second win in the last six games. Joint top scorers Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins (10 goals apiece) stormed through the Timbers’ defense at will.

Colorado hasn’t played since blowing a 3-1 lead and losing to the Galaxy, 4-3, nine days ago to up its total to 15 goals conceded in the five losses. Defender Jared Watts, who had stepped in for injured captain Drew Moor, suffered a strained hamstring in that game and head coach Pablo Mastroeni must once again rejigger his back line. Thrown into his first MLS game, rookie defender Grant Van De Casteele played the last 30 minutes, during which the Galaxy scored its third and fourth goals.

MLS WEEK 25: Schedule:
Wednesday, August 27

LA Galaxy 4 D.C. United 1.
LA: Alan Gordon 2.
LA: Omar Gonzalez (Landon Donovan) 24.
LA: Baggio Husidic (A.J. DeLaGarza, Landon Donovan) 45+1.
D.C.: own goal 58.
LA: Landon Donovan pen. 75.
Att.: 16,044.

MLS WEEK 25: Schedule:
Friday, August 29

8 p.m. ET
Sporting KC vs. Houston, NBCSN
Saturday, August 30
4 p.m. ET
Seattle vs. Colorado
5 p.m. ET
Toronto FC vs. New England
7:30 p.m. ET
Montreal vs. Columbus
8:30 p.m. ET
Chicago vs. FC Dallas
10:30 p.m. ET
San Jose vs. Real Salt Lake
Vancouver vs. Portland
Sunday, August 31
2:30 p.m. ET
D.C. United vs. New York, NBCSN
8 p.m. ET
Chivas USA vs. LA Galaxy, UDN

MLS Standings:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

PTS TEAM W-L-T GF/GA

43 D.C. United 13-8-4 40/30
42 Sporting KC
12-7-6 36/26
33 Toronto FC9-8-6 35/36
33 Columbus
8-8-9 35/32
31 New York 7-7-10 39/36
---------------------------------------
30 New England 9-12-3 31/36
30 Philadelphia7-9-9 40/41
26 Chicago4-6-14 31/37
25 Houston 7-13-4 25/45
17 Montreal4-15-5 25/45

WESTERN CONFERENCE
PTS TEAM W-L-T GF/GA
45 Seattle 14-7-3 43/33
42 FC Dallas 12-7-6 45/33
42 Real Salt Lake
11-5-9 39/30
43 LA Galaxy12-5-7 45/27
33 Vancouver 7-5-12 33/31
-----------------------------------------
30 Colorado8-11-6 37/39
30 Portland 7-8-10 41/43
25 San Jose 6-10-7 28/32
24 Chivas USA 6-12-6 21/37
------------------------------------------------
MLS: Leading Scorers
G PLAYER, TEAM
20Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York
16 Dom Dwyer, Sporting KC
14 Erick Torres, Chivas USA
13 Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy
11 Jermain Defoe, Toronto FC
11 Sebastien Le Toux, Philadelphia
11 Joao Plata, Real Salt Lake
10 Clint Dempsey, Seattle
10 Obafemi Martins, Seattle
10 Gyasi Zardes, LA Galaxy
10 Chris Wondolowski, San Jose



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