Call-ups and crowded schedule increase stress on everyone

[MLS SCHEDULE: Week 19] The brief respite, that short lag separating the Hexagonal qualifiers and Gold Cup, is over. MLS teams jump back into busy mode this week. Five matches Wednesday, three on Thursday, three on Saturday and five again Sunday add up to a frantic, draining run of competition, recovery, travel and more competition. Plopped right in the middle is a Friday friendly between the USA and Guatemala in San Diego, and then the Gold Cup kicks off on Sunday at the Rose Bowl. Here’s a look at the eight midweek encounters ...

TORONTO FC (2-8-6) vs. MONTREAL (9-4-2), Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET, MLS Direct Kick.
Stung 4-3 by Colorado last Saturday in its first home defeat, the Impact faces a TFC weakened by four international absences, all Canadian: Kyle Bekker, Doneil Henry, Ashtone Morgan and Jonathan Osorio. Montreal won the season’s first meeting at home, 2-1, and also prevailed in the Canadian Championship, 6-2, on aggregate. But since it joined MLS, Montreal hasn’t won at BMO Field: the teams tied, 1-1, in league play at BMO last year.

CHICAGO (5-7-3) vs. SAN JOSE (5-7-6), Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. ET, MLS Direct Kick.
Could the Quakes’ resurgence under interim head coach Mark Watson be the real deal? A spectacular 3-2 comeback victory over the Galaxy last Saturday raised his record to 2-1-0, and he started off with a 2-1 win in Colorado, so there’s some reason for road optimism. (San Jose also plays at New England Saturday.) But several starters, including Chris Wondolowski, are with their national teams, and defender Victor Bernardez is suspended. The Fire took last weekend off after downing Columbus, 2-1, on June 22. The victory featured Mike Magee scoring in his seventh straight game (including U.S. Open Cup) since being traded by the Galaxy. Chicago is also unbeaten in its last five games.

SPORTING KANSAS CITY (7-5-5) vs. VANCOUVER (7-5-4), Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET, Univision Deportes.
Teams with nearly identical records enter this game on positive notes. SKC beat Columbus, 3-2, last weekend to end a four-game winless streak, and Vancouver is seeking a third straight victory after beating D.C. United, 1-0. SKC has conceded two goals in each of its last three league games, so head coach Peter Vermes is looking for tighter play as he starts the second half of the season.

SEATTLE (6-5-3) vs. D.C. UNITED (2-12-3), Wednesday, 10 p.m. ET, MLS Direct Kick.
No team has played fewer games than the Sounders, so if rusty they could be pressed by United, which put up a good fight while losing, 1-0, to the ‘Caps on a hotly disputed penalty kick. Seattle struggled in its last game, a 2-0 loss at Real Salt Lake, and could be without right back DeAndre Yedlin. He suffered a separated shoulder playing for the USA at the U-20 World Cup.

REAL SALT LAKE (10-5-3) vs. PHILADELPHIA (7-5-5), Wednesday, 10 p.m. ET, MLS Direct Kick.
Four starters will be missing when RSL, which has won four straight, hosts Philadelphia at Rio Tinto Stadium. Captain Kyle Beckerman, keeper Nick Rimando, right back Tony Beltran and striker Alvaro Saborio have been called by their national teams, which puts RSL’s  four game winning streak in some jeopardy. With two wins and two ties in the last four games, Philly is in good form, though top scorer Jack McInerney (10 goals) is also on international duty. Both goals conceded to FC Dallas last weekend in a 2-2 tie came on set plays; the Union has allowed six in such situations. Only D.C. United, with eight, has given up more.

DALLAS (8-3-6) vs. CHIVAS USA (3-10-3), Thursday, 9 p.m. ET, MLS Direct Kick.
The game at FC Dallas Stadium marks the one-year anniversary of FCD attacker David Ferreira’s return to the lineup after an injury layoff of more than 14 months. He has logged 15 assists (second only to Landon Donovan’s 16) since returning, yet Chivas USA will also have to monitor centerback Walker Zimmerman, who scored for the second straight week in a 2-2 tie with Philadelphia. After tying 1-1 with New England, Chivas USA released four players, including goalscorer Laurent Courtois. It signed U.S. defender Carlos Bocanegra this week; he has reported to the team and will be eligible to play next week when the domestic registration period begins.

COLORADO (6-7-5) vs. NEW YORK (8-6-4), Thursday, 9:30 p.m. ET, MLS Direct Kick.
Rapids centerback Shane O’Neill has returned from the U-20 World Cup, at which he scored the Americans’ only goal in their final group game, a 4-1 loss to Ghana. He’s one of several young players to earn plaudits for their efforts for Colorado during a decimating run of injuries. Four different players, including youngsters Dillon Powers and Deshorn Brown, scored as the Rapids stunned Montreal, 4-3, last weekend. New York is just a point behind the Eastern Conference leader after beating Houston, 2-0, on goals by Fabian Espindola and Johnny Steele sparked by an excellent performance by midfielder Dax McCarty.

LOS ANGELES (7-7-3) vs. COLUMBUS (5-7-5), Thursday, 10:30 p.m. ET, MLS Direct Kick.
The gut-punched Galaxy, which fell to the Quakes after leading 2-1 and playing 11-against-10, get a pair of home games (also FC Dallas on Sunday) to reboot its season. Squandered chances wasted some mesmerizing attacking play and a stoppage-time defensive collapse left Coach Bruce Arena furious. Landon Donovan is with the U.S. team. The Crew put in a good shift at Kansas City but fell short in a 3-2 defeat. It has lost three of the last four and despite fielding a constant menace in striker Dominic Oduro, isn’t taking care of business in the defensive third. Costa Rica has called up forward Jairo Arrieta, so both teams will be shorthanded offensively.

Wednesday, July 3
7 pm ET
Toronto FC vs. Montreal
8:30 pm ET
Chicago vs. San Jose
9 pm ET
Sporting KC vs. Vancouver, Univision Dep.
10 pm ET
Seattle vs. D.C. United
10 pm ET
Real Salt Lake vs. Philadelphia

Thursday, July 4
9 pm ET
FC Dallas vs. Chivas USA
9:30 pm ET
Colorado vs. New York
10:30 pm ET
LA Galaxy vs. Columbus

Saturday, July 6
7:30 pm ET
New England vs. San Jose
9 pm ET
Houston vs. Philadelphia
11 pm ET
Vancouver vs. Seattle, NBCSN

Sunday, July 7
3 pm ET
Chicago vs. Sporting KC, ESPN
5 pm ET
Columbus vs. Portland
7 pm ET
Montreal vs. Chivas USA
9:30 pm ET
Colorado vs. D.C. United
10:30 pm ET
LA Galaxy vs. FC Dallas
Eastern Conference:

29 Montreal 9-4-2 27/21
28 New York 8-6-4 25/22
26 Philadelphia 7-5-5 27/26
26 Sporting KC 7-5-5 23/17
23 Houston 6-6-5 19/18
21 New England 5-5-6 19/14
20 Columbus 5-7-5 21/21
18 Chicago 5-7-3 15/21
12 Toronto FC 2-8-6 13/21
9 D.C. United 2-12-3 8/27

Western Conference:

33 Real Salt Lake 10-5-3 27/16
30 FC Dallas 8-3-6 27/22
30 Portland 7-1-9 28/16
25 Vancouver 7-5-4  26/24
24 LA Galaxy 7-7-3 25/21
23 Colorado 6-7-5 21/22
21 Seattle 6-5-3 19/17
21 San Jose 5-7-6 18/27
12 Chivas USA 3-10-3 15/31
10 Mike Magee (Los Angeles/Chicago)
10 Marco Di Vaio (Montreal)
10 Jack McInerney (Philadelphia)
9 Camilo (Vancouver)
8 Dominic Oduro (Columbus)
8 Claudio Bieler (Sporting KC)
6 Blas Perez (FC Dallas)
6 Will Johnson (Portland)
6 Robert Earnshaw (Toronto FC)
6 Thierry Henry (New York)

Friday, July 12
7:30 pm ET
Philadelphia vs. Chivas USA

Saturday, July 13
7 pm ET
New York vs. Montreal
7:30 pm ET
New England vs. Houston
8:30 pm ET
Sporting KC vs. Toronto FC
9 pm ET
FC Dallas vs. Real Salt Lake
10:30 pm ET
San Jose vs. Seattle
11 pm ET
Portland vs. LA Galaxy, NBCSN

Sunday, July 14
7 pm ET
Vancouver vs. Chicago

Wednesday, July 17
9 pm ET
Colorado vs. New England
10:30 pm ET
Chivas USA vs. Toronto FC

Saturday, July 20
4 pm ET
Seattle vs. Colorado
Toronto FC vs. New York
7 pm ET
Montreal vs. FC Dallas
7:30 pm ET
Columbus vs. New England
Philadelphia vs. Portland
8:30 pm ET
Chicago vs. D.C. United
10 pm ET
Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting KC
10:30 pm ET
LA Galaxy vs. Vancouver

Saturday, July 27
2 pm ET
Toronto FC vs. Columbus
7 pm ET
D.C. United vs. New England
Montreal vs. Sporting KC
New York vs. Real Salt Lake
Vancouver vs. Philadelphia, Univision Dep.
8 pm ET
Houston vs. Chicago, NBCSN
9 pm ET
Colorado vs. LA Galaxy
10:30 pm ET
San Jose vs. Portland

Sunday, July 28

11 pm ET
Seattle vs. Chivas USA, Univision Dep.
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