MLS Week 22: A Look Ahead

CarrLade (Getty)


By THOMAS FLOYD

Nine months after claiming the Eastern Conference crown, the Houston Dynamo are finally on the verge returning to the top of the ladder.

Riding four consecutive wins, the Dynamo will face the New York Red Bulls Friday night with sights on extending the streak and passing their conference foe for first place. With both clubs undefeated at home this season, Houston has the considerable advantage of hosting this one at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Elsewhere around the league, the Rocky Mountain Cup continues when Real Salt Lake travels to take on the Colorado Rapids, and the Seattle Sounders and Los Angeles Galaxy will pick up their Western Conference rivalry at CenturyLink Field.

Here is a rundown of the Week 22 slate:

HOUSTON DYNAMO vs. NEW YORK RED BULLS (Friday, 8 p.m., NBCSN)

The Dynamo have been on fire of late, largely thanks to the exploits of Calen Carr (three goals in as many games), Macoumba Kandji (a brace against Montreal last week) and Brad Davis (five assists in three matches). New York counters with an attack now featuring the newly signed Tim Cahill.

While Ricardo Clark won't be eligible to play for the Dynamo until Geoff Cameron's move to Stoke City is finalized, New York also won't be at full strength in central midfield, as Dax McCarty will be sitting because of yellow card accumulation.

D.C. UNITED vs. COLUMBUS CREW (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Direct Kick/MLS Live)

Two weeks after Columbus dropped a visiting United squad by a 1-0 score, D.C. will try to return the favor when the Crew travel to RFK Stadium. United seem poised to continue with the attack Ben Olsen auditioned last weekend against Paris Saint-Germain, with Long Tan starting up top over Maicon Santos and Hamdi Salihi.

Columbus will be without midfielder Cole Grossman, who is sitting out the contest after receiving a red card last weekend. Also, playmaker Milovan Mirosevic is questionable with an adductor strain.

NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION vs. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Direct Kick/MLS Live)

After two meetings at Livestrong Sporting Park — a 3-0 Kansas City win in March and a scoreless draw two weeks ago — these two will wrap up their season series with a match at Gillette Stadium.

For a New England team that leads the league in header goals conceded with 11, marking up properly on the often-lethal set-piece service of Kansas City's Graham Zusi will be crucial.

MONTREAL IMPACT vs. PHILADELPHIA UNION (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Direct Kick/MLS Live)

For two teams on the fringe of the Eastern Conference playoff hunt, this match presents a prime opportunity to pick up some points while knocking down a fellow contender.

Although Montreal now boasts the services of a fit Alessandro Nesta in the back, Philadelphia may debut Bakary Soumare, a former All-Star centerback who seems like an ideal partner for Carlos Valdes.

CHICAGO FIRE vs. TORONTO FC (Saturday, 8:30 p.m., Direct Kick/MLS Live)

With Chicago's additions of Sherjill MacDonald and Alvaro Fernandez and Toronto's acquisition of Eric Hassli, there could be a lot of new attacking talent on display at Toyota Park come Saturday night.

Scoring the first goal will be particularly key when these two teams get together: Chicago is 6-0-1 when scoring first, while Toronto is 2-12-2 when conceding the opener.

COLORADO RAPIDS vs. REAL SALT LAKE (Saturday, 9 p.m., Direct Kick/MLS Live)

The Rocky Mountain Cup has been quite one-sided in recent years, with Salt Lake unbeaten in eight contests, dating back to May 2009. Just two weeks ago, RSL downed Colorado by a 2-0 score to clinch this year's trophy.

For Colorado's tinkered back line, which has seen Tyson Wahl step in at left back and Drew Moor slide to the right side, the focus will be on stopping Salt Lake striker Alvaro Saborio, who has six goals in his past four games. 

PORTLAND TIMBERS vs. FC DALLAS (Sunday, 7 p.m., NBCSN)

The two worst teams in the Western Conference get a national TV audience on Sunday for their clash at Jeld-Wen Field. Just two weeks ago, Dallas rolled to a 5-0 win over Portland, which has lost five in a row.

Portland will be looking to get on the board any way possible after being shut out in three straight matches. One option for the Timbers could be to insert Danny Mwanga back into the starting lineup in hopes of sparking their lethargic attack. 

SEATTLE SOUNDERS vs. LOS ANGELES GALAXY (Sunday, 9 p.m., ESPN2/ESPN Deportes)

With Seattle at third in the Western Conference and the Galaxy in fifth, these two perennial powerhouses aren't quite where they want to be. But it's doubtful that will take any of the vigor out of this matchup.

Designated Players will surely be the story, with the Galaxy's trio of David Beckham, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan in scorching form and the Sounders potentially set to debut their new DP, German midfielder Christian Tiffert.

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6 Responses to MLS Week 22: A Look Ahead

  1. Kris says:

    HOU v NY. In the words of Bart Scott, “Can’t wait!”

  2. Hopper says:

    Sounders v. Galaxy should be epic. Huge crowd expected at the CLink, but that’s normal.

  3. Kishan Jeter says:

    Everyone knows that Los Angeles and New York have the highest payrolls in MLS. What I didn’t know was that Houston has the extreme lowest. Sad. No wonder Kris Boyd didn’t wanna come here. Well, at least we were at the final dance last year (2011 MLS Cup) and it looks like we’ll be there again this year. Go Dynamo!

  4. Aguinaga says:

    Of course it’s normal. Seattle invented huge crowds and massive attendance, it’s public knowledge, didn’t you know? :)

  5. Dope Solo says:

    did they invent it before the marketing machine? (free scarves, refunds, free tickets)… cuz you guys werent even pulling 1500 people the year before MLS while portland dwarfed you… all noobies with no sense of history… Rule: you cant claim or boast Seattle’s history if you only paid attention in 2009 and onward… got news for you, that is 98% of your “fan”base

  6. Pong says:

    Love the Portland trolls…..put a winning team on the field, we want an actual rivalry.

    It rarely fails to amuse me when Portland fans accuse Seattle of being a corporate machine. The timbers owner is the son of former Goldman Sachs big wig and former secretary of the treasury Hank Paulson.