July 7, 2012
A look at the upcoming games
LA Galaxy (6-10-2, 20 pts)@ Chicago Fire (8-5-4, 28 pts), 2:00 pm CT (ESPN)
The heat wave that has plagued the Midwest is expected to break in time for Sunday’s Chicago Fire – LA Galaxy game at Toyota Park, but the heat will still be on for the defending MLS Cup champions, who are coming off two straight losses and will be without playmaker extraordinaire David Beckham after he was suspended last week by the MLS Disciplinary Committee. Even without Beckham, who was also suspended for Wednesday’s 2-1 stoppage-time loss to Philadelphia, and had the extra game tacked on this week for “confrontational and provocative behavior” in a 4-3 loss to San Jose last weekend, the Galaxy threw shot after shot at the Union, but could not manage a win. Coach Bruce Arena has threatened lineup changes if results don’t improve, but that probably won’t include removing captain Landon Donovan, who has four goals and two assists in his last four games, and has a goal or an assist in nine of his last 11 games against the Fire. One bright spot for the Galaxy’s uncharacteristically porous defense is the return of reigning MLS Defender of the Year Omar Gonzalez, who played the first half against Philadelphia but has not regained full match fitness in the wake of a preseason knee injury. The Fire are unbeaten in four straight after a midweek scoreless road draw with Houston. They remain without Designated Player Sebastian Grazzini, who on the heels of having the team confirm that it would pick up his option has taken indefinite leave to deal with a family crisis in his native Argentina and may or may not be back. That means the team is looking for a playmaker. For the last two games, recently-returned Chris Rolfe has filled the role and looked dangerous doing it. Brazilian newcomer Alex might also be an option.
Toronto FC (2-10-4, 10 pts)@ Philadelphia Union (4-9-2, 14 pts), 3:00 pm CT (TSN, WPVI)
The Philadelphia Union will attempt to continue their low-key resurgence under interim manager John Hackworth when they host Toronto FC Sunday at PPL Park. The Reds also have looked better in the wake of a coaching change that left Paul Mariner at the helm. But much of their recent success, including last Wednesday’s 1-1 road draw with FC Dallas, has been due to DP Danny Koevermans and his five-game scoring streak, and his availability and effectiveness for Sunday are in question. He left the FCD match in the 88th minute after apparently injuring his right knee, and might or might not play against the Union. Philadelphia rebounded from last weekend’s disappointing performance against the Houston Dynamo with a gutsy 2-1 win over the LA Galaxy on Wednesday. Goalkeeper Zac MacMath and his defenders turned away shot after shot, Jack McInerney notched the third goal of his last two games, and Michael Farfan had an assist and the stoppage-time game-winner.
New York Red Bulls (9-4-4, 31 pts)@ New England Revolution (5-7-4, 19 pts), 6:00 pm CT (MSG+, CSNNE)
New York (9-4-4, 31 pts) will bring a makeshift backline into the match with starting backs Heath Pearce (hamstring) and Markus Holgersson (ankle) having both been ruled out with injuries. Holding midfielder Rafa Marquez, who has had calf tightness, and M-D Jan Gunnar Solli did not practice on Friday and did not make the trip with the Red Bulls. Neither did Thierry Henry, who scored the only goal of the match when the teams met on April 28 at Red Bull Arena. He will be held out of the lineup to spare his injury-prone legs from the pounding they would take from Gillette Stadium’s artificial surface. The depleted New Yorkers will face a confident New England team that stretched its unbeaten streak to four games with last Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Seattle Sounders FC. It was the second straight result salvaged for the Revs in stoppage time, with youngster Diego Fagundez doing the honors with a header against the Sounders. Earlier in the match, Saer Sene scored his team-leading eighth goal.
Columbus Crew (6-5-4, 22 pts)@ Montreal Impact (5-11-3, 18 pts), 6:30 pm CT (FSO, TVASp)
The Montreal Impact are on a three-game losing streak, and will host the Columbus Crew on Sunday without either captain Davy Arnaud or ironman midfielder Felipe, both suspended after picking up their fifth yellow cards in last Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to Kansas City. Team owner Joey Saputo cut ticket prices last week to help increase attendance at the team’s newly renovated Stade Saputo, and signed Italian World Cup veteran Alessandro Nesta, who is thought to be at least two weeks away from match fitness, to help shore up a feeble defense that has allowed nine goals in its last three games and a league-high 35 through the first half of the season. Designated Player Marco Di Vaio is expected to start as the lone striker for the Impact, and has looked dangerous over his first three MLS games but not yet found the back of the net. The Crew topped Real Salt Lake 2-0 last weekend, their third straight win at home. Tony Tchani is on a two-game goalscoring streak, and Chris Birchall has assists in back-to-back games. They have lost just once since the beginning of May, thanks in large part to solid defensive play. Netminder Andy Gruenebaum is second in the league in saves with 59, and has backstopped the team to three defensive shutouts in their last five games. Two-time MLS Defender of the Year Chad Marshall came off the injured list this week, and might be available against Montreal after recovering from the concussion that has sidelined him since May 4.