MLS: Three games to watch

[PREVIEW: Week 20] A pair of important Eastern Conference games and the first showdown of the season between Western rivals Seattle and Los Angeles highlight a spread-out series of games. The schedule is lighter and spread out this week as six MLS clubs are playing international friendlies this weekend.

TOUGH TEST FOR TFC. Four points in two games against Houston have edged Toronto FC into third place in the Eastern Conference, and it is nine points behind leader Sporting Kansas City heading into their meeting Saturday at BMO Field (live 7 p.m. ET on MLS Live).

Veteran Dominic Oduro gave another display to prove he was a solid midseason pickup for TFC by assisting on Gilberto’s goal and scoring the equalizer himself in the 2-2 tie with the Dynamo last weekend. He has two goals and two assists in 404 minutes of action that includes four starts. TFC rallied twice from one-goal deficits to get the point.

SKC is in its best form of the season, winner of its last three and five of the last six. Benny Feilhaber earned Player of the Week honors by notching a goal and an assist in a 2-1 defeat of Columbus and connecting with the superb free kick as SKC downed the Galaxy by the same score. Dom Dwyer was blanked in those games but still leads SKC in goals with 14.

Toronto has won just one of the last five league matches between the teams. It beat SKC, 2-1, in the 2013 home opener at BMO Field. In their meeting this year on May 23 at Sporting Park, TFC went down to 10 men but rallied for a 2-2 tie in stoppage time when Nick Hagglund chipped a ball pass into the penalty area that Bradley Orr headed home.

Midfielder Warren Creavalle moved to Toronto FC this week in the deal by which Houston acquired U.S. international DaMarcus Beasley as a Designated Player. The teams flipped places in the allocation order -- TFC held the top spot -- and the Dynamo also acquired allocation money in the deal.

Both Toronto FC and Sporting KC fielded most reserve players for friendlies at home Wednesday and were beaten. Toronto rallied from a 2-0 deficit to pull even with Tottenham, which then again scored to win, 3-2. In a meeting of MLS and Premier League champions, Manchester City downed SKC, 4-1.

LONG WAIT FOR WESTERN FOES. Vancouver and FC Dallas have played more than one-half of their schedules without starting their three-game series, but they will get underway Sunday at B.C. Place (live at 5 p.m. ET on MLS Live) separated by four places in the standings but only two points apart. FCD is second at 8-7-5 (29 points); Vancouver is sixth at 6-4-9 (27 points).

The Whitecaps can leapfrog FCD by winning, which it has only been able to do once in the last six games, but last week it posted 1-1 ties at Toronto FC and Real Salt Lake. Darren Mattocks got the goals in both games and is tied with Erik Hurtado for second on the team with four goals. Pedro Morales is on top with six.

FCD posted its second straight win and third shutout of the season last week by beating New England, 2-0, with goals by Andres Escobar and rookie Tesho Akindele. Aston Villa beat FCD, 2-0, in a friendly on Wednesday.

MONDAY NIGHT MEETING. SKC is the league’s hottest team, yet Seattle and the Galaxy are in good form heading into the game Monday at CenturyLink Field (10 p.m., ESPN2).

Seattle has won its last six games at CenturyLink and hasn’t been scored upon in the last 344 minutes. In its last league game, it beat Portland, 2-0, in a Cascadia Cup match on July 13. Last weekend it played a wildly entertaining 3-3 tie with Tottenham Hotspur. The game against the Galaxy starts a busy run of nine matches in 38 days.

The Galaxy’s 2-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City Saturday ended L.A.’s eight-game unbeaten streak and on Wednesday a team of backups took a 7-0 thrashing by Manchester United. Robbie Keane scored his team-high 10th goal of the season against SKC and his partnership up top with Gyasi Zardes looks like it will be preferred pairing with Landon Donovan taking up a spot in midfield. Donovan played the full 90 minutes against SKC without registering a shot.

MLS WEEK 20: Results:
Thursday, July 24
Real Salt Lake 3 Montreal 1.
RSL Luke Mulholland (Chris Schuler) 3
MTL: Hassoun Camara (Calum Mallace) 31
RSL: Olmes Garcia (Javier Morales, Joao Plata) 70
RSL: Olmes Garcia (Javier Morales) 90+3
Red Card: MTL – Issey Nakajima-Farran 65.
Att.: 20,398.

Wednesday, July 23
San Jose 4 Chicago 1.
SJ: Shea Salinas (Yannick Djalo) 45
SJ: Atiba Harris 52
SJ: Chris Wondolowski (Yannick Djalo) 62
CHI: Grant Ward (Matt Watson) 75
SJ: Yannick Djalo (Cordell Cato) 79
SJ: Cordell Cato (Chris Wondolowski, Yannick Djalo) 8

MLS WEEK 20: Schedule:
Friday, July 25
9:30 pm ET
Colorado vs. Chivas USA
Saturday, July 26
7 pm ET
Toronto FC vs. Sporting KC
7:30 pm ET
New England vs. Columbus
Sunday, July 27
5 pm ET
Vancouver vs. FC Dallas
8 pm ET
Montreal vs. Portland, UDN

MLS Standings:
35 Sporting KC 10-5-5 29/18
34 D.C. United 10-5-4 29/20
26 Toronto FC 7-5-5 26/23
24 New York 5-6-9 32/31
23 New England 7-10-2 24/31
23 Philadelphia 5-8-8 33/35
23 Columbus 5-7-8 23/26
20 Chicago 3-5-11 27/33
19 Houston 5-11-4 22/40
14 Montreal 3-11-5 19/34

38 Seattle 12-4-2 35/24
32 Real Salt Lake 8-4-8 31/26
29 FC Dallas
8-7-5 32/29
27 LA Galaxy 7-4-6 26/16
27 Colorado 7-6-6 28/24
27 Vancouver 6-4-9 29/27
24 Portland 5-6-9 32/33
23 Chivas USA 6-8-5 21/30
20 San Jose 5-8-5 22/20
MLS: Leading Scorers
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 21: Schedule:
Monday, July 28
10 pm ET
Seattle vs. LA Galaxy, ESPN2, WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes
Wednesday, July 30
7 pm ET
D.C. United vs. Toronto FC, MLS LIVE
7:30 pm ET
New England vs. Colorado, MLS LIVE
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 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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