July 3, 2012
A look at the upcoming games
Sporting Kansas City (9-5-2, 29 pts)@ Montreal Impact (5-10-3, 18 pts), 6:00 pm CT (KSMO, TSN)
Two teams trying to claw their way out of spirals meet on Wednesday when Sporting Kansas City hosts the expansion Montreal Impact. Sporting are fresh off their second straight loss, 1-0 to the Chicago Fire. Coupled with the prior week’s blowout loss to Philadelphia, Sporting’s formerly formidable defense has surrendered five goals in their last two games. The Impact are no better off, surrendering six in their last two games, most recently in a 3-0 loss to DC United. The Impact already have beaten Sporting once this season, by a 2-0 margin on May 5. But such lopsided losses have been the exception for KC for most of this season – even after hemorrhaging goals for the past two games, Sporting still leads the league with a 1.00 team goals-against average, and ‘keeper Jimmy Nielsen sports a league-high nine wins and six shutouts. Despite their newbie status, the Impact are third in the East in goals scored (24), and are on pace for the most goals per game by an expansion team since the league’s initial expansion in 1998. New Montreal DP Marco Di Vaio made an unimpressive debut against DC, but will be looking for a better performance against Sporting.
Toronto FC (2-10-3, 9 pts)@ FC Dallas (3-9-5, 14 pts), 7:00 pm CT (TSN, FSSW+)
If FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman takes the field as expected on Wednesday night against Toronto FC, he will become the first MLS player to play 400 games. He will be facing one of the hottest scorers in MLS in Toronto DP Danny Koevermans, who has connected six times in as many games, including the equalizer in last weekend’s 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls, and was voted MLS Player of the Week last week. The Hoops have been idle since a scoreless draw with Chivas USA on June 23 that extended their club-record winless slide to 11 games. It was their first defensive shutout since April 5. Their last win was April 14. Toronto are unbeaten in four games, but have never won in Dallas.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC (7-4-5, 26 pts)@ Colorado Rapids (7-8-1, 22 pts), 8:30 pm CT (Alt)
The Vancouver Whitecaps and Colorado Rapids meet for the second time in just over two weeks on Wednesday night. The Whitecaps won the last encounter, 1-0 on June 16 . Sebastien Le Toux scored the game’s only goal. Vancouver is bringing new DP Barry Robson with them to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, where he is expected to see his first MLS action. For the first time in more than a year, the Rapids were able to take the field last Saturday with both Conor Casey and Omar Cummings in the starting lineup. Casey and Jamie Smith, another recent returnee from the long-term injured list, both scored their first goal of the season in a 3-0 win over Portland. But one of Colorado’s biggest offensive surprises of late has been right back Hunter Freeman, who has assists in back-to-back games.
Seattle Sounders FC (7-5-5, 26 pts)@ Real Salt Lake (10-6-2, 32 pts), 9:00 pm CT (KING, KUCW-30)
A 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake on May 12 started Seattle Sounders FC on the road to their current eight-game winless streak, and an Independence Day win at Rio Tinto Stadium could end it on Wednesday night. RSL have problems of their own, in the form of a three-game losing streak that includes their first back-to-back home losses since October 2007, capped by a 2-0 setback to the Columbus Crew last weekend at Crew Stadium that left them four points behind the San Jose Earthquakes at the top of the MLS West. Many of RSL’s problems can be traced to an injury-wracked backline missing injured starters Chris Schuler and Jamison Olave. A problem that might be at least partially rectified with Olave’s projected return on Wednesday, as well as midfielder Kyle Beckerman’s return from suspension. Eddie Johnson has been the bright spot for Seattle of late. He scored twice in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at New England, giving him four goals in his last four games. Seattle held the lead for much of the match, but conceded the equalizer in stoppage time.
Philadelphia Union (3-9-2, 11 pts)@ LA Galaxy (6-9-2, 20 pts), 9:30 pm CT (CSNPhi, KDOC)
Both the Philadelphia Union and LA Galaxy have appeared to be finding their form in June – the Union under new, if still interim, Manager John Hackworth, and the Galaxy after the return of Landon Donovan from National Team duty—but closed out the month with losses. The Union were largely outplayed by Houston on their way to a 2-1 loss at BBVA Compass Stadium last Saturday, and the Galaxy blew a two-goal lead to fall 4-3 to the fired-up San Jose Earthquakes last Saturday, ending a three-game winning streak. On Wednesday, the Galaxy will be without midfield impresario David Beckham, who argued his way to his fifth yellow card at the end of last Saturday’s loss and will be suspended, but could regain the services of 2011 MLS Defender of the Year Omar Gonzalez for the first time this season after he came off the disabled list on Tuesday. Gonzalez restores size, savvy and an attacking sensibility to an LA backline that has sorely missed those qualities this season. Though he is eligible to play, he is still listed as doubtful on the team's injury report. The Galaxy have scored nine goals over their past three games, and are sure to test the sturdy Philadelphia defense, which is second in the league with only 17 goals against. But defense won’t be enough to lift the Union, who have reshuffled their offensive array since the departure of coach Peter Nowak. Two players in particular have stepped up, and will need strong performances against LA: Jack McInerney, who scored twice in the team’s recent 4-0 win over Sporting Kansas City, and rookie Antoine Hoppenot, who has scored one goal and created two others as a late substitute, and more importantly has demonstrated the ability to create a little chaos within opposing defenses, opening up other attacking opportunities for the likes of Lionard Pajoy and Freddy Adu.