MLS West Notes: Pearce eyes recovery, Portland looks for road win and more

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BY ADAM SERRANO

Chivas USA are looking to qualify for the playoffs, but they'll have to be without their star defender Heath Pearce for at least a month.

Pearce pulled his left hamstring in the club's August 27th defeat to Real Salt Lake while running in the open field.  Although Pearce has experienced some trouble with hamstring injuries in the past, the Chivas USA back-line leader is confident that he'll be able to recover quickly and return to action for the Rojiblancos.

“The MRI said four to six [weeks out], but I think it’s going to be on the short side of that,” said a confident Pearce, who is hoping to return to action on Sept. 24 against Toronto FC. “I feel like this is a minor injury and it will be on the short side of the window, if not shorter. … I feel that the news of the level of the strain and the pull that it was, was the best of bad news, the best-case scenario so that’s a positive.”

COLORADO RAPIDS

The Colorado Rapids are prepping for their match against the LA Galaxy and will be dealing a great deal of fixture congestion. With two matches each week for the next two weeks due to CONCACAF Champions League play, the Rapids believe that they have a great deal to learn from the Galaxy, who are going through the same trials. 

“You have seen guys more than good enough to slot in,” Smith said this week. “Bruce has rotated the squad incredibly well there to keep getting results.”

FC DALLAS

The FC Dallas community has spent the week mourning the untimely loss of club legend Bobby Rhine of an apparent heart attack. The former FC Dallas attacker died at the age of 35 scoring 23 goals in 213 appearances for FCD. After his career, Rhine moved in TV booth and became the club's play-by-play man and now as the club looks to move on from his tragic passing, head coach Schellas Hyndman says that he'd like to dedicate a championship to Rhine's memory. 

“[Team president] Doug Quinn and [owner] Dan Hunt both came out to practice at the end and addressed the team and received permission … from the league to wear black armbands – which we will – and to dedicate the rest of the season and hopefully championship to the memory of Bobby Rhine.”

LOS ANGELES GALAXY

The Los Angeles Galaxy control their own destiny as they look ahead to the MLS playoffs and potentially earning the Supporters Shield for the second straight year.

Although the year has gone well for the club with the league's best record, the Galaxy admit that they are looking behind them at the Seattle Sounders, who currently sit four points behind them in the chase for the top record. With seven matches left in the season, the Galaxy can clinch a playoff spot with a victory on Friday against the Colorado Rapids as well as some help. 

“Without sounding like an idiot, I do think we've probably secured a playoff spot," said head coach Bruce Arena. "It might be the 10th spot at this point, but I think that is not an issue with us.” 

PORTLAND TIMBERS

The Portland Timbers have exceeded the expectations of many and currently sit in the thick of the playoff race. 

Five of the last eight games for the Timbers are on the road starting with a match on Saturday at PPL Park against the Philadelphia Union. Portland have had a dismal record on the road this season, having won only one match away from JELD-WEN Field. The task at hand for Portland is clear, to make the playoffs, then they'll need to win on the road. 

"The truth of the matter is for us to make the playoffs, we're going to have to get some (good) results on the road," Portland midfielder Jack Jewsbury said.

REAL SALT LAKE

It has been a long wait, but Cody Arnoux finally got to make an impact on an MLS field.

After being a star for Wake Forest and spending time with the Everton reserves, Arnoux seemed destined to make a huge role for RSL, but a knee injury sidelined the attacker for seven months. It was not always an easy road, but Arnoux finally got on the field going 24 minutes against Philadelphia this weekend. 

“Obviously, it felt great,” Arnoux told reporters after their match. “When you are out of competitive matches for ten months and finally get a chance to get in there it always feels good. It’s been a long time, so I almost forget how it feels to be out there playing.”  

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES

The playoffs appear to be slipping away from the San Jose Earthquakes, but the club is developing ahead of the 2012 season.

One player who appears to be rounding into form is left back Justin Morrow. The Notre Dame product, who was selected in the second round of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft has performed well in the last two matches for the Quakes against the LA Galaxy and Toronto FC. Although the season is not going well, head coach Frank Yallop admits that he is pleased with Morrow's performance. 

“He’s not made mistakes, he’s got himself forward,” Yallop told reporters. “I think with Justin being a young player, I wouldn’t say it’s nerves, it was more maybe feeling he didn’t belong last year when he played a little bit. Now, I think he really feels he belongs, and he’s played really well. I’m very happy with Justin right now.”

SEATTLE SOUNDERS

The Seattle Sounders have ambitious plans for the last few months of the season.

The Sounders will be aiming to advance from CONCACAF Champions League group stage, win the U.S. Open Cup for the third consecutive time and most of all, win the MLS Cup. Seattle admit that that they are gunning for homefield advantage during the playoffs as they prepare for the final two months of the season. Seattle sit just four points behind the LA Galaxy and believe that the top spot in MLS is in their grasp.

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS

The Vancouver Whitecaps have yet to earn a victory away from Empire Field this season, going a dismal 0-10-4. With that poor record, the Whitecaps are starting to study why the team has suffered so much away from Vancouver.

Part of the reason is believed to be the distance that the Caps have traveled this season (26,221 miles), but the Whitecaps believe that as the team acclimates with the league, the results on the road will come.

"One thing won't change as long as we're in Vancouver, and that's travel," Soehn told the Province. "We'll continue to change things until we get results, and we'll see what we can come up with to make sure we can give our guys every chance."

 

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20 Responses to MLS West Notes: Pearce eyes recovery, Portland looks for road win and more

  1. ciscokid says:

    When you consider that 4 of the 5 top teams in the west all have CCL games, it makes for a fascinating final 2 months as we watch Seattle, LA, Rapids and Dallas all juggle their rosters for what is essentially 2 games a week for the rest of the season, with some long travel thrown in.

    And IF RSL beats my Sounders this weekend, then it’s a 5 team scrum that may be the best Supporter’s Shield race in the history of MLS.

    Can hardly wait.

  2. ciscokid says:

    And slightly off topic: how ridiculous is it that it’s virtually guaranteed that only 1 of the top 3 seeds overall can make the MLS Cup final. If it’s LA and they win SS, then the best available match up will be 1 v 4 (in single table terms).

    You shouldn’t have the overall 2 and 3 seed knocking each other out in the first round. Just dumb.

  3. Matt says:

    Well, only one of the 2nd and 3rd seeds will get knocked out in the first round, but the winner will almost certainly have to play the 1st seed in the next round, so your point is still good.

  4. RB says:

    The really ridiculous thing is how what you point out combines with the silly division into conferences. As things stand currently, at least 2 but most likely 3 of the 4 best teams in the league will necessarily be eliminated even without falling in any early upsets, while weaker teams from the East remain.

  5. Missoula says:

    This is even more strange considering that each MLS team play each other an equal number of times (I think). This format makes sense in the NFL where you play your divisional opponents twice a year while not playing most other teams. However, when all teams are playing each an equal number of times, there is no justification for the conference distinction.

  6. Jason B says:

    My MLS playoff plan:

    1) Top seven teams make the playoffs regardless of conference.

    2) Supporter’s Shield winner advances to semifinal round automatically.

    3) Quarterfinal matchups are seeds 4 v 5, 3 v 6, 2 v 7

    4) Quarterfinals and semifinals are 2 legged series, home and away, with away goals rule

    5) MLS Cup Final is a one off game played at a neutral site.

  7. RB says:

    So explicitly single table, then? (You don’t keep conferences even for appearance’ sake?)

  8. Jason B says:

    I should have added that. Yep, single table. Next year it could still be feasible to have a balanced schedule with 19 teams. I also think that MLS should start a few weeks earlier to take advantage of the lull between the end of football and the beginning of baseball and basketball/hockey playoffs. Why not start in early March?

  9. sammysounder says:

    Of course, I’m pulling for SSFC, but from a neutral perspective, both LA and Sounders losing would make this a fantastic run in. Both win and it’s a two horse race.

  10. sammysounder says:

    My dream . . . (and the best format EVER!!!)
    Single table, top 8 make playoffs

    Two groups of four:
    Group A; 1,2,7,8
    Group B: 3,4,5,6
    Three game round robin, familiar World-Cup format. 1,2,3 and 4 get two home games. 5,6,7,8 get 1.

    Two advance from each group.

    Home and Home series 1A v 2b 1b v 2a

    Winners advance to MLS Cup

  11. Edwin in LA says:

    It does keep it interesting tho….

    I mean the last 2 MLS Cup winners have been Wild Card, and New York made it before that?

    But I do hope play improves, NY was suppose to be about 14 points better, which would put them right there with Seattle and Dallas.

    Lets hope IF Garber keeps his divisions like we all know he wants to, that the East comes up stronger. I think Philly, Columbus, SKC and DC will be good for a while, NY should be good but need to get back to last year’s form or the 1st 3 months of this year

  12. Edwin in LA says:

    I like that idea, especially considering that right now we finish pretty much even with the end of playoffs/start of World Series, could move season back 2 weeks and end it 1 week into November, when World Series is usually over.

    That way MLS Cup is played RIGHT before the NCAA Football Conference Championship games and the big games to decide national championship stakes in NCAAF.

    But I think the biggest thing is the weather, we would need to see a heavy schedule in places like LA, SJ, Houston, Dallas, Kansas City, Vancouver and depending on the weather maybe Portland & Seattle… could play in Utah & Colorado too but they tend to have cold March weather so maybe…

    I think NY will be fine to do to partly covered stadium and state of the art grass heating system. But I do think with 2 more games and then 2 more when the 20th team comes to MLS, we should start in early March, right before March Madness begins lol

  13. Jason B says:

    That would be cool too.

  14. Charles says:

    I don’t have that much to live for.

    Sounder please win the quintuple,

    CCL, World Champions, SS, MLS Cup and USOC

  15. A wise man once says:

    DC will be GREAT in 2-3 years. New York, notsomuch.

  16. Rob Hak says:

    That’s one point of view.

    The other is reality.

  17. ciscokid says:

    Soccer is so damn interesting in the way there are multiple competitions to root for and you have to decide which are a priority.

    If someone said to me that the Sounders would win the USOC and 1 other competition only, which one would I want it to be?

    I’d be torn between MLS Cup and CCL, but probably a solid lean to CCL because of the international ramifications.

    Supporters Shield without a Cup isn’t worth it as long as there are playoffs.

  18. PetedeLA says:

    Pearce needs his 70′s porno star look back.

  19. Charles says:

    I am torn too.

    CCL would get them into the World Championship playoffs…which would be awesome.

    MLS Cup would insure 50k+ fans at every game….which would be awesome. But also a hassle, season ticket prices go up, parking is a million times tougher than the USL Sounders already….etc.

    What a great Friday conversation in dreamland.